What is dark data?
Dark data refers to all the unused, unstructured data stored in an organization for compliance or forensic investigations in the future. Gartner defines dark data as "the information assets organizations collect, process, and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes." A few instances of dark data include server log files, ex-employee information, email records, older versions of files currently in use, and more.
Dark data statistics
60 percent of more than 1,300 global businesses said that more than half of their data was dark in 2019.
32 percent of respondents cited lack of resources as a hurdle for retrieving dark data.
Why is dark data important?
Gain untapped insights
Use dormant business data to mine essential insights and patterns in internal processes and customer correspondences for continuous improvement. Organizations could lose to competitors by ignoring important information hidden within dark data.
Spot security vulnerabilities
When the bulk of your data is not securely stashed away, it is vulnerable to leaks and thefts. It's extremely easy for hackers to gain access to data with public access and to systems using outdated software components. Therefore, it is important to know if any business-critical information is within your dark data stores.
Optimize data storage
Old and stale files that are no longer in use should be pruned from your storage ecosystem. The cost of storing stale files and other redundant data is quite high. Use a redundant, obsolete, and trivial (ROT) data calculator to see how much you can save. Calculate now.
Security concerns over dark data
Dark data can be vast in size and often isn't secured by organizations. By not monitoring dark data, businesses face the following risks:
- Exposure or breach of sensitive data such as personally identifiable information (PII), confidential business data, and customer payment information left unidentified in your repositories.
- Unsecured access to internal data such as log files, passwords, and previous employees' information, which can be leveraged by malicious insiders and external hackers to carry out data theft or breaches.
- Older file versions or software versions can enable hackers to create a backdoor into the organization's network.
- Unstructured data that is not monitored for sudden spike in file activities can result in ransomware and other malware infections going undetected.