SINGAPORE (June 4): Global businesses are still housing ‘dark data’, or unclassified data, within their organisations, despite a rise in security breaches and stringent data protection regulations, according to research from Veritas Technologies, a leader in enterprise data protection and software-defined storage.

The Value of Data study surveyed 1,500 IT decision makers and data managers across 15 countries.

The study also showed that on average, 52% of all data within organisations globally remains unclassified or untagged, while Singapore has 53% of unclassified data within organisations. This shows that businesses have limited or no visibility over vast volumes of potentially business-critical data, creating a ripe target for hackers.

Classifying data is important as it allows organisations to scan and tag data, ensuring sensitive or risky information is properly managed and protected. This broad visibility into data helps companies comply with ever-increasing and stringent data protection regulations that require discrete retention policies be implemented and enforced across an organisation’s entire data estate.

According to the study, the weakest links in data security are public cloud and mobile environments, with the majority of data across these environments most likely to be left unclassified and unprotected.

About 5% of companies have claimed to have classified all of their data in the public cloud, while about 6% have classified all the data in their mobile devices.

However, a majority 61% of companies admitted that they have only classified less than half of the data in their mobile devices.

In Singapore, about 67% of local companies have classified less than half of their public cloud data, while 68% have classified less than half of the data that sits on mobile devices.

“As the workforce gets increasingly digital, with the use of mobile devices and online platforms becoming commonplace, company data has become dispersed across a number of different environments,” says Sheena Chin, country director for Singapore, Veritas. “When data is fragmented across an organisation and has not been properly tagged, it is more likely to go ‘dark’, affecting the company’s reputation and market share if it falls foul of international data protection regulations such as the GDPR or the PDPA locally. With blurring lines between the traditional and digital spheres, it is vital that organisations take full responsibility for ensuring their data is effectively managed and protected.”

Nonetheless, 65% of companies in Singapore are considering strengthening data security, while 42% of local companies are looking to improve data visibility and control and 34% are considering guaranteed data compliance. Yet the majority of respondents admit that their organisation still needs to make improvements in all of these areas. 

“A company’s dark data reservoir may be out of sight and out of mind for many organisations, but it is an alluring target for cyber criminals and ransomware attacks. The more organisations know about the data they hold, the more adept they will be at evaluating its value or risk,” adds Chin.