I had a very interesting briefing the other day by Johnnie Konstantas, the VP of Marketing at Varonis.
Varonis is a software company that focuses on governing unstructured data. Johnnie’s perspective was pretty illuminating:
- A 2007 IDC study found unstructured data accounts for over 80% of all business data
- In 2008, a study by the Ponemon Institute found that 84% of organizations believe their unstructured data is accessible by people with no clear business need and 32% have experienced an unstructured data breach
- The IDC study also found that data grows at a rate of 57% per year
There have been high profile stories lately about unauthorized people snooping in presidential candidates’ passport files, the theft of 94 million credit cards from TJX, and the exposure by an investment firm of data on 2,000 clients, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
And in June, The Identity Theft Resource Center reported that nearly 16 percent of breaches this year came from insiders, up from 6 percent in 2007.
Given that many of the people I talk to or work with are building Master Data Management solutions for their companies, or putting together a Data Governance program, I had to stop and ask myself “maybe we’re all missing the forest for the trees here”.
Granted, the picture on the structured data side of things needs improvement too. Companies still struggle to pull together the “Single View of the Customer”. Islands of data still exist, and artificial silos still cost companies money and hurt productivity.
But I think we ignore the unstructured data problem at our peril. I believe savvy business owners will eventually expect an integrated approach to governing both structured and unstructured data. Even though the technology tools might be quite different, a common organization and policies addressing both types of data will be necessary.
It’s not enough to lock up the structured data, when over 80% of the information in the company is unstructured and is not adequately protected or managed.
I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly research Varonis and its products yet, but it looks like a unique way to govern the unstructured data on file systems, and I’m impressed by the company’s approach.