November 5, 2020
By Christina Walker
The global pandemic has triggered disruption in businesses across the globe. But, that can actually be a positive force. It pushes companies to take stock of their business processes, teams, capabilities and technology stack. One area of focus that has come under increased scrutiny is the proliferation of stored data. This data may reside in on-premises legacy systems, in the cloud or in both locations. According to the IDC Global DataSphere Forecast for 2020 enterprises will be responsible for creating and capturing 6.4 zettabytes of new data in 2020 alone. This is no small number. Moreover, according to Hewlett Packard Enterprise only about 6% of all data ever created is in use today. The remaining 94% is sitting in a vast “cyber landfill.”
Businesses need to know that storing redundant, obsolete or trivial data brings its own set of concerns. The high cost of keeping data on hand is one such concern. The other, and perhaps more critical, is that retaining unused data could pose the potential for data breaches and/or even the threat of being out of regulatory compliance, especially if consumer data is present.
The good news is that this explosion of data presents new business opportunities for channel companies such as service providers and system integrators that are knowledgeable about the complex cloud migration process, data management and compliance. Businesses today need help with securely disposing of sensitive data. Especially when factoring in regulatory requirements, retention policies, consumer requests or other business needs. The fact is that the need for data disposition services will only grow more urgent as organizations embark on cloud migration projects and deal with a growing number of consumer data privacy regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Data Disposition Steps
Once you have identified the appropriate technologies for successful data disposition, the planning process requires three milestones. These key milestones are:
Identify the data. Step one is collaborating with data owners as well as those on the data compliance, IT and cybersecurity teams to develop a strategy that meets the organization’s specific data disposition and retention requirements, which can vary widely from industry to industry. The discovery phase involves interviewing data owners and lines of business managers to understand how the organization’s data is created, enhanced, stored and shared. This step is critical to giving service providers an understanding of the data that matters most to the company’s operation. It aids in data prioritization and duplication reduction.
Separate the good from the bad. Many organizations keep data beyond it’s “shelf life.” An enormous challenge is determining what data is still useful, current or necessary, or can be eliminated. These steps require close collaboration with data owners. Although this may seem overwhelming, there are technology solutions that help automate the process of data identification and data separation. Taking advantage of these further sets up service providers as valuable resources for their customers.
Eradicate the bad data. Keeping unused data increases the probability that personally identifiable information (PII) or corporate data might be misused or even stolen. A variety of methods are available that give service providers the ability to securely and correctly accomplish this step, but the far more efficient and secure method is data erasure. Securely sanitizing devices goes beyond just deleting files. Total data sanitization erases data from hard disk drives and solid-state drives. The data may be in PCs, laptops, servers and other pieces of hardware in a way that makes redundant, old or trivial data irretrievable. This method lets service providers complete this final step of the data disposition process by removing information, including PII and sensitive corporate data. This protects the organization against unauthorized data access and meets the tenets of data privacy regulations. Data sanitization erases all traces of data, and provides an audit trail and certificate of erasure once complete.
Not Just a One-Time Event
Data disposition shouldn’t be considered a one-off event. Ideally, culling data would be built into an organization’s data governance policies. Helping businesses understand this – as well as the risks inherent in “hoarding” unused and unnecessary data – positions channel companies as excellent partners able to provide their clients with an invaluable service by helping them to rethink and redo their data management, retention and eradication policies.
The data disposition process, when done correctly and consistently, not only mitigates the risks of potential data breaches; it also future-proofs organizations as new data privacy regulations are implemented across the globe.
Christina Walker is the global director of channel sales and programs at Blancco. She manages Blancco’s channel sales team, overall partner strategy and ensures the program is continually evolving to support the needs of the company’s growing list of active partners. Follow her on LinkedIn and the company at @BlanccoTech.
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