Shadow Data Emerges as Major Security Risk

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2015-07-01 Email

Business and IT executives are increasingly aware that there's more to shadow IT than hardware and devices. There's also shadow data. Spotting, tracking and controlling data is a growing challenge, and the failure to keep data in tow can have dire consequences. A recently released report, "Shadow Data," from cloud data security firm Elastica, indicates that the stakes are growing. It found that the average cost of a data breach in 2014 reached $5.9 million, and 45 percent of Americans have been affected by a data breach within the last year. At the center of the issue: risky data exposures resulting from sanctioned cloud services and apps. In many cases, these problems result from a lack of knowledge about the type of data that's uploaded and how it is used and shared. Services such as Box, Dropbox and Google Drive introduce new and different risks, while also raising new questions about data ownership. But not all software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps are created equal. "Even with enterprise-grade cloud apps, there remains a challenge in understanding the sensitive content users are storing within them, and how that content is being exposed—intentionally or unintentionally," points out Elastica CEO Rehan Jalil. The report offers a number of insights about shadow data and what impact it has on the enterprise.

Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

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