The growing volume of unstructured data stored by companies is creating a security hole, according to new research from the Ponemon Institute.
Unstructured data, such as information stored in spreadsheets, documents, presentations, multi-media files and blueprints, comprises the vast majority of digital business assets.
However, 89 per cent of respondents to a survey admitted that controlling access to unstructured data is a major challenge.
Nearly 70 per cent also felt that access to unstructured data by employees is very often unwarranted, a situation that they are unable to rectify because they do not have the means to monitor and control access.
The report found that the rate at which unstructured data is being created makes the challenge of managing and protecting the information "exponentially" more difficult.
"Our study exposes a serious flaw in the data security processes of many companies, in that inadequate data governance may afford improper access to sensitive information by unauthorised individuals," said Dr Larry Ponemon, founder of the Ponemon Institute.
"Research consistently shows that insiders present a huge threat to data integrity and that, without proper governance mechanisms in place, it is all but impossible to prevent these insiders from accessing information inappropriately. "
Around six out of 10 organisations canvassed have processes in place to monitor which users are accessing unstructured data.
Some 84 per cent believe that controlling unstructured data access will remain important or get more important within their company in the next two years.
"The findings of the survey support what we see in nearly every enterprise regardless of size or business focus," said Yaki Faitelson, chief executive and co-founder at data governance firm Varonis Systems, which commissioned the survey.
"The challenge of managing unstructured data is growing more acute, if not impossible, as the volume of unstructured data explodes."
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