Data security has long breached the walls of tech blogs and legal briefs as a topic of concern.
Thanks to recent revelations and subsequent high-profile apologies and government hearings, data security is having its day around kitchen tables, in classrooms, and, of course, across the vast digital universe of social media. Anyone who was still unaware of the pitfalls and perils of dealing with data and protecting personal information is certainly aware now.
Today’s data management and storage landscape, where data entropy and data sprawl are rampant, has wide-reaching consequences that go far beyond data accessibility, interpretability, and ease-of-use for companies. Data security may be on everyone’s minds these days, but it will only continue to become more challenging as data collection and storage becomes more varied and dispersed.
Many companies are currently storing significant data in low-structure distributed systems, open-source databases and even unmanaged devices. In these not uncommon scenarios, how can a user know that a query does not return personal data if they do not know what is in the data store? And even if the data is stored in a well-known database management system, how can administrators be sure that this same personal data isn’t provided to the wrong individuals? In other instances, personal data may need to be shared or placed online, though it must be obfuscated first, and the latter must be done in a way that does not affect its value for analytics.
Companies need a new approach to security—new forms of data profiling via heuristics and new technology to ensure the safety of all data, the effective masking and anonymization of personal data, and compliance with new data protection and privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).
Data security may be a hot topic at the moment, but other, less newsworthy, issues are no less important when it comes to data management. No matter how data is being used, governance is crucial. Companies need audit trails of who did what with which data. They need the ability to look at the lineage of any data. CIOs live in constant fear of an auditor walking in and asking where a value within a business application comes from, and questioning its reliability. Why is this type of dread so prevalent? Enterprises are waking up from the last decade of the “democratization of data” and realizing that they have antiquated governance processes in place—or, worse yet, none at all.
In the past, a company might have rolled out applications at a rate of one per year—across the entire company. Now, each business unit within an organization rolls out one or more applications each month using cloud solutions with little or no tracking of where the data is coming from, who is using it, and where it is going. With no business model, no impact analysis, and no lineage metadata to show any auditor that might come knocking on the door at any time, companies are taking a massive legal risk.
It is hard to keep up with the rate of change in data generated by day-to-day operations within one company, let alone the near-constant changes brought about by new political regulations and technological advances that one company has to react to. Given the potential risks that data security and data governance pose to a corporation, it is vital that businesses seek out new technologies that will equip them to face the security challenges of today and prepare them to meet whatever challenges tomorrow may bring.
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