Dark data represents the biggest potential cybersecurity exposure for U.S. and U.K. businesses, according to a special cybersecurity edition of the DealMaker Meter report, “Understanding Risk: The Dark Side of Data,” from Donnelley Financial Solutions (NYSE: DFIN), a leading risk and compliance company. Defined as data that a company has collected but no longer needs — ranging from outdated customer information to old employee records — dark data is often forgotten and unprotected by corporations, creating substantial liabilities as well as tempting targets for cybercriminals.
The rise in dark data has accompanied corporations’ increased interest in accumulating a wide variety of data sets (often called Big Data), which can be used to improve marketing, product development, customer service and a host of other activities. Dark data can be unstructured, sensitive, personal, regulated, vulnerable or high-risk information an organization has collected and stored over time.
Nearly seven of 10 enterprise leaders surveyed said data storage presents more risk than value. But while 33 percent of senior leaders and IT personnel are aware of the risks of dark data, 18 percent of others within organizations are less knowledgeable.
In addition to worrying about managing dark data, 96 percent of executives are concerned about data fraud and 95 percent are worried data breach incidents will increase over the next two years. Rightfully so, given more than half have experienced an incident this year and others indicated they had more than five data breaches and/or data fraud incidents this past year.