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What CIOs need to understand about managing, protecting and extracting value from their organization’s unstructured and semi structured data
Varonis is the leader in unstructured and semi-structured data governance software. Based on patented technology and a highly accurate analytics engine, Varonis solutions give organizations total visibility and control over their data, ensuring that only the right users have access to the right data at all times from all devices, all use is monitored, and abuse is flagged. Varonis makes digital collaboration secure, effortless and efficient so that people can create and share content easily with whom they must, and organizations can be confident their content is protected and managed efficiently. Varonis has more than 4,500 installations worldwide and is headquartered in New York, with regional offices in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Rake Narang: What do CIOs need to understand about managing and protecting their organization’s unstructured and semi structured data?

Yaki Faitelson: You might not realize that 80% of organizational data is unstructured – the human-generated content on your file servers, intranets, NAS devices and email systems. Every year, IDC releases its Digital Universe study, and every year the numbers surprise us. In 2013, they predict that by 2020 the number of servers in data centers will grow by a factor of 10 and that data volume will grow by a factor of 14. We are now expected to create 40 zettabytes (40,000 exabytes) in 2020, up from 32 in last year’s study.

We've conducted numerous surveys and the results indicate that most organizations know they need to do a better job securing their data. Nevertheless, they lack the fundamental controls necessary to ensure safe digital collaboration.

While the majority of organizations store data that belongs to customers, clients, vendors, or business partners, only 30% of those organizations describe themselves as very confident that the data stored in their organization is protected. Further, only 34% of organizations described themselves as very confident that they even know where all data containing information that belongs to customers, vendors, and other business partners is stored.

Furthermore, this critical information may no longer be stored in a protected data center safe within the company walls. In our survey about cloud collaboration in the enterprise, 67% of IT workers say that senior management either doesn’t know or isn’t sure where all company data resides.

Your organization likely stores data that others trust you to protect. You should know where it’s stored, who is responsible for it, and who can access it. You should know what it contains and who uses it, and eventually you will need to know what you can delete and when. These will become core competencies in our digital society—organizations will need to prove that they are able to protect their digital assets and collaborate securely in order to do business.

Rake Narang: What are companies doing (or not doing) to secure their important data assets and what do we need to do to cultivate a culture of safety?

Yaki Faitelson: From our research, it turns out that only 19% of organizations report that they monitor all access activity across common data stores, and 27% audit no access activity.

An audit trail of activity is the equivalent of a security camera recording what is happening on your data stores – without one, it is very difficult to determine if data has been abused, and if so, what happened.

How about controlling who has access in the first place? The results were not much better - only 37% of organizations regularly revoke access to data. That means that once you have access to something, you almost never lose it - access rights only grow as you move around the organization—they are rarely revoked when you no longer need them. Even if organizations want to review access regularly, they don’t know who should be doing the reviews - only 22% of organizations have “owners” for all data. A lack of ownership means that no one with adequate business context decides who should and shouldn’t have access, and what constitutes acceptable use.

Lastly, data is often stored within organizations for a long time. According to our survey on data migrations, almost 75% of organizations have a difficult time determining which data is stale and no longer needed.

We cannot allow the trust in our digital ecosystem to continue to erode, any more than we could have continued to allow our trust in transportation to erode by driving without speed limits, traffic lights, or seatbelts. We need to create a culture of responsible computing, where organizations and individuals learn to protect information.

Rake Narang: How can organizations improve their “defensive driving” in today’s digital world?

Yaki Faitelson: What can we do to start learning the rules of the road? From our white paper, Children of the Digital Revolution, (http://www.varonis.com/go/resources/), this is my Top 5 list that can help your organization begin to practice defensive driving in today's digital world:

  1. Learn What Makes Your Engine Run - Without the ability to access and share information securely, almost every business process will be impaired.
  2. Learn Your Way Around - Once we learn to recognize the value of our information, we need to understand where it's stored and how it's shared. Information can easily be copied and replicated to many systems and formats.
  3. Insist on Seatbelts, Speed Limits, and Traffic Lights - Wherever we have assets that need to be protected, we need basic controls around them such as authentication, authorization, auditing and alerting. These controls won't stop all attacks, but they'll certainly stop most of them.
  4. Beware of Off-Road Excursions - Once you've got the right controls in place for secure collaboration on your main roads, people need to stay on those roads. Unsanctioned public cloud services are an example of "off-roading" from an organizational perspective.
  5. Focus on Your Destination - Extracting Value from Your Data - When information can't be shared it has little to no value. When it's available to too many people, or the wrong people, it's a liability. Information is most valuable when it's available to the right people, and only the right people.

Company: Varonis
1250 Broadway, 31st Floor, New York, NY 10001 U.S.A.

Founded in: 2004
CEO: Yaki Faitelson
Public or Private: Private
Head Office in Country: New York, NY - United States
Products and Services: Varonis Data Governance Suite, Varonis Data Transport Engine, and Varonis DatAnywhere
Company’s Goals:Varonis will continue to deliver innovative, world-class solutions for access and collaboration, governance, and retention for unstructured, human generated big data.
Key Words: Data Governance, Digital Collaboration, Electronic Retention, Human Generated Big Data

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