Data protection

How Unstructured Data Makes Your Company Vulnerable To Attacks

While your company is focusing on keeping cybercriminals out of your critical systems through the obvious gateways, ...

While your company is focusing on keeping cybercriminals out of your critical systems through the obvious gateways, they could be sifting through the volumes of unstructured data your organization produces — some of which you might not even realize you have.

A recent analysis by the IDC shows unstructured data makes up more than three-quarters of all enterprise data.

This growing IT burden takes the form of millions of documents, reports, contracts, emails and files created around the clock.

Despite its massive proliferation, most unstructured data is still largely invisible. And with the broad-scale shift to work-from-anywhere engagement, file-sharing applications (while providing convenience) have introduced additional enterprise security concerns.

As unstructured data becomes more integral to business operations in digitally-enabled business models, the associated management, governance, and protection challenges will increase in parallel.

Here are three reasons to elevate your organization’s focus upon unstructured data:

Unstructured data comes in many forms

Unstructured data comes in many formats, making it particularly difficult to organize and govern.

Despite containing a wealth of information, it cannot be organized using most data tools and methods, which are designed to analyze structured data. As a result, most companies don’t have an established process for managing unstructured data.

Even more concerning, a Ponemon Institute study noted 76% couldn’t even determine who has access to unstructured data.

"A lot of this data may never be used — it's like clutter in a house -— so [an organization] needs to decide how to handle this type of data and decide what it really needs," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute, in a Bank Info Security report. “Most people polled in the survey generally acknowledge that this is a problem in their organization. "It's not the smoking gun or proof positive, but now that we asked about it, it shows they haven't thought about it before, and there's a lot of uncertainty about it.”

It often contains sensitive data

The unstructured data your organization creates each day may not appear to be a valuable target for attackers, but in reality, it may contain more sensitive information than you realize. 

Certain functional groups within your organization produce large volumes of information and have access to highly sensitive data. Consider all the documents your CEO and CFO create and review in a typical week, including product roadmaps, business strategy presentations and budgets. 

Additionally, many companies in the financial services, legal, and life sciences industries are especially vulnerable to ransomware attacks because of the volume of unstructured data they produce contains personally identifiable information or proprietary formulas.

Unstructured data is more prone to mismanagement

While a small portion is machine-generated, most unstructured data results from human activity. How it is duplicated, organized, and secured relies on user behavior at the point of vulnerability.

These unprotected data files provide an easy path for hackers to gain entry through employee credentials rather than an existing enterprise security solution. The problem is further compounded by a lack of file classification, making data hard to find later and easier for malicious actors to access now. Most employees create, share, and store thousands of documents in a given year, almost none of them properly classified or stored.

A growing percentage of unstructured data is considered business-critical, with large portions visible to those without access both internally and externally.

Think legal documents on an employee computer that were then transferred to that user’s personal laptop, creating a data-breach risk that could expose blueprints, spreadsheets, multimedia files, and much more.

How to protect your unstructured data 

As structured data protection solutions grow stronger, hackers are spending more time targeting vulnerable unstructured attack vectors. And forward-thinking security and IT leaders are taking action.

A research report by the Ponemon Institute found 84% of respondents believe controlling unstructured data access will remain important or become important within their organization in the next two years.

Traditional enterprise data security solutions focus on perimeter protection but fail to protect unstructured data across storage platforms. When a cybercriminal or a bad actor within your organization breaches the perimeter, they find a trove of data to exploit. These solutions also make it difficult to recover from an attack.

WEBINAR- The Practitioner's Guide To Eliminating Infrastructure and Data Security Silos

Fortunately, security and IT leaders can empower employees to safeguard unstructured data by employing a simple and transparent interface to elevate information protection.

Myota combines data encryption, data sharding, data dispersion and restoration into a single platform to render valuable unstructured data unusable to attackers. It also allows for fast recovery in the event of an attack. This technology complements your existing data loss prevention and cloud security profile, for end-to-end protection and immunity from data loss due to ransomware and brute force attacks. 

Easy to deploy and built to scale, Myota is designed to change the rules for enterprise data protection. Watch a recording of our latest webinar to learn more about how it works.