March 10, 2017

It feels like a version of that question you get when you inadvertently drop your keys while walking out of your favorite coffee shop or after walking away from your shopping cart while looking at a particularly delicious-looking pastry. But often, the question about to whom a piece of data belongs is not an uncommon one in today’s enterprises. In an age where a “zero inbox” seems more and more like a myth and we’re constantly creating new documents, presentations and other mediums by which we share information, the explosion of all this unstructured data is only getting worse.

For enterprises, this poses a particular problem as many don’t know what data they have, what pieces contain sensitive information, who should be managing that data and how to control access to it. It used to be that data was stored all neat and tidy in structured files that had clear and representable owners who maintained the health of the data. Now, it’s a regular occurrence that we even have trouble finding the data we want to find simply because there’s so much of it.

Combating the Unstructured Data Noise

With what may seem like an incredibly daunting task, it may be very tempting to simply throw your figurative (or literal) hands up in the air and not even begin to tackle the job of identifying, classifying, and then securing access to what may be petabytes of data. But all hope is not lost. By adopting three mantras (and a good data access governance solution), you can not only find but secure access to all your organization’s sensitive data.

See Everything

The first step must always be to find the root cause of what the identity management solution is being implemented to solve. No two organizations are the same, and they each need their own investigation as to what is the most important pain point and how far the solution needs to be integrated into the current systems to solve that pain point (as well as the others the organization is experiencing).

Govern Everything

Once your sensitive information is found, you must be able to govern it. A large part of this is by electing the proper owners for your data – and not by basing the election on who uses the data most. While the most rampant users will certainly know how fresh the data is, they may not be the best ones to manage who has access to it. But by polling and crowdsourcing this information, you can determine the rightful owner who will best administer the data. A data access governance solution can further this effort by placing real-time monitoring and automatic alerts of specific events, while sharing this information with your identity governance solution to enable your security program to make the right decisions (with all the information).

Empower Everyone

Now that your users are in control of their data and have access to the right reports and information in order to make the best decisions, they can be empowered to maintain the health of their data. No longer do they have to guess at how they obtained access to something or request access to a new file or system, but they have everything they need at their fingertips. A good data access governance solution will also have a unified user interface, where it’s not an adventure to find the right button depending on what device they may be using. Instead, they have a familiar experience each time and can quickly and efficiently do what they need to do in the system.

With these three mantras and a data access governance solution in place, the question of “Is this your data?” will still occur, but it can quickly be answered and handled without the secret panic of how to find out that information. From this, your organization is better protected against the threat of a data breach.

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