Is Your Data Safe? How to Assess Your Data Risk - Part 2
May 26, 2021

Christophe Toum
Talend

Share this

What's Involved in Risk Assessment?

When it comes to your data, there is no single magic bullet that can protect you from every scenario. But you can improve your overall data health by taking a closer look at the three aspects of data risk: sources, security and compliance.

Start with: Is Your Data Safe? How to Assess Your Data Risk - Part 1

Data Sources

Understanding both the quality of individual sources and the quality of your data mapping is key to assessing your risk. When we talk about data sources, we have to consider not only where data comes from, but how it enters our systems. For example, it's probably safe to assume that the lead list you purchased from a vendor isn't as accurate or up-to-date as the list of leads you captured from a recent, targeted, double-opt-in campaign.

But even if you could 100% trust the accuracy of every record from every source — including manual entry by salespeople, submissions from any range of online forms, engagements within products or mobile apps and shared data from partners or parent companies — you would still be looking at a multiplicity of fields, standards and definitions across sources. One source may require a country code in the phone number field, while another does not. One source may have a single name field, while all the others break out first and last names.

Getting these sources to all speak the same language can be a challenge in and of itself, but it is well worth the time and consideration. Fortunately, there are technologies available that will automate data quality as part of the data integration process, so you can avoid risk with the steep time investment of manual data correction. Also, the industry is beginning to recognize the importance of swiftly identifying data's integrity — 95% of executives agree there should be cross industry standard metrics to assess the quality of enterprise data.

Data Security

If all your data were collected in a single Excel spreadsheet, it would be pretty easy to assign a person or two to watch over that data, to keep it secure and to validate it, line by line. But that's not the world we live in. In fact, less than half of enterprise executives report delivering data accuracy, consistency, accessibility or completeness as "very good."

This data disorder is created by a landscape of data infrastructures composed of a complex network of interconnected programs and platforms. There are obviously tools that specialize in connecting systems and ingesting data into a repository. And some businesses have success just doing that — but are they really getting a true sense of data health? Would they even know if they had data quality issues?

The first step of data security is securely connecting to our data sources, ingesting the data and performing that first pass of data quality checks to ensure that we're getting the right data in the right fields. Next, data profiling technology can help us make sure that phone numbers look like phone numbers, and emails look like emails, and so on, so we can feel safe that we haven't mis-categorized sensitive information. Some profiling technologies may even be able to automate resolution for common data errors.

After that, it's time for people to get involved, so the data experts can manually correct, reconcile and validate any records that cannot be confidently evaluated by the automated data quality tools. Proper processes and workflows need to be in place so that the right people can look at it in a formal way. This will require technology for data inventory, data stewardship and data preparation.

Compliance

Good intentions — even good intentions backed by good technology — can only take you so far. A recent study by the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) discovered that up to 90% of data breaches can be traced back to human error. Believe it or not, this is good news — back in 2015, IBM reported that a full 95% of data breaches were caused by human error.

Technology can help here by providing a centralized infrastructure for managing and ensuring compliance across the organization. These products allow you to establish clear access protocols and permissions that will protect your data, without creating false barriers to access that might make people less effective at their jobs. They also make it possible to automate the classification of data through semantic types and build a well-defined business glossary, so that everyone is speaking the same business language when it comes to their data.

Protecting Yourself from Risk

Your data is too important to leave anything to chance. It will take a balance of people and processes, supported by the right technology and automation, for you to keep up with the never-ending flow of data through your company. In a perfect world, we would all have top-of-the-line security solutions and 100% compliance with every piece of advice from the IT team. But, even in this imperfect world, we can make significant progress.

If you're getting ready to make a change, start small: make sure that your data is standardized, cleansed and adheres to whatever standards you have. Solving the problem of compromised data sources will have a ripple effect throughout the organization, making everyone more effective and efficient, and freeing up resources to devote to larger data issues.

Christophe Toum is Senior Director of Product Management at Talend
Share this

The Latest

October 21, 2021

Scaling DevOps and SRE practices is critical to accelerating the release of high-quality digital services. However, siloed teams, manual approaches, and increasingly complex tooling slow innovation and make teams more reactive than proactive, impeding their ability to drive value for the business, according to a new report from Dynatrace, Deep Cloud Observability and Advanced AIOps are Key to Scaling DevOps Practices ...

October 20, 2021

Over three quarters (79%) of database professionals are now using either a paid-for or in-house monitoring tool, according to a new survey from Redgate Software ...

October 19, 2021

Gartner announced the top strategic technology trends that organizations need to explore in 2022. With CEOs and Boards striving to find growth through direct digital connections with customers, CIOs' priorities must reflect the same business imperatives, which run through each of Gartner's top strategic tech trends for 2022 ...

October 18, 2021

Distributed tracing has been growing in popularity as a primary tool for investigating performance issues in microservices systems. Our recent DevOps Pulse survey shows a 38% increase year-over-year in organizations' tracing use. Furthermore, 64% of those respondents who are not yet using tracing indicated plans to adopt it in the next two years ...

October 14, 2021

Businesses are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to improve network performance and security, according to a new State of AIOps Study, conducted by ZK Research and Masergy ...

October 13, 2021

What may have appeared to be a stopgap solution in the spring of 2020 is now clearly our new workplace reality: It's impossible to walk back so many of the developments in workflow we've seen since then. The question is no longer when we'll all get back to the office, but how the companies that are lagging in their technological ability to facilitate remote work can catch up ...

October 12, 2021

The pandemic accelerated organizations' journey to the cloud to enable agile, on-demand, flexible access to resources, helping them align with a digital business's dynamic needs. We heard from many of our customers at the start of lockdown last year, saying they had to shift to a remote work environment, seemingly overnight, and this effort was heavily cloud-reliant. However, blindly forging ahead can backfire ...

October 07, 2021

SmartBear recently released the results of its 2021 State of Software Quality | Testing survey. I doubt you'll be surprised to hear that a "lack of time" was reported as the number one challenge to doing more testing, especially as release frequencies continue to increase. However, it was disheartening to see that a lack of time was also the number one response when we asked people to identify the biggest blocker to professional development ...

October 06, 2021

The role of the CIO is evolving with an increased focus on unlocking customer connections through service innovation, according to the 2021 Global CIO Survey. The study reveals the shift in the role of the CIO with the majority of CIO respondents stating innovation, operational efficiency, and customer experience as their top priorities ...

October 05, 2021

The perception of IT support has dramatically improved thanks to the successful response of service desks to the pandemic, lockdowns and working from home, according to new research from the Service Desk Institute (SDI), sponsored by Sunrise Software ...