Blog  •  November 03, 2022

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The Risks of Dark Data Are Rising

Businesspeople have been so conditioned over the years to see the value in Big Data that they often overlook the risks lurking in all that rich information.

There’s a good reason for that: Big Data drives so much business activity today. It informs product development, marketing, recruitment and host of important business decisions. When fed into powerful analytics and AI systems, it can yield insights that make executives smarter and help a company innovate.

So far, so good. But like many other resources, data has a lifespan. Eventually, it becomes obsolete and outdated. It becomes dark data.

The HR records of former employees is dark data. So is old surveillance video, outdated customer PII, ancient emails. Dark data is most likely everywhere inside your company. In the hustle and bustle of everyday business, this kind of data is often just forgotten. There’s so much new data to get to.

But cyber thieves don’t forget, and they are aggressively trying to penetrate the walls of your business through phishing and other clever tactics. When your company’s data — dark or otherwise — falls into their hands, you potentially open yourself up to legal jeopardy. The reputational damage can be even worse. Nobody wants to have their personal information treated lightly.

DFIN’s new report, Understanding Risk: The Dark Side of Data, suggests that executives are becoming aware of the risks. One remarkable finding: seven of 10 enterprise leaders we surveyed said that storing detailed information presents more risk than value. Our report also revealed that nearly half of the respondents don’t have the tech tools required to adequately do the job of safeguarding dark data.

At DFIN, we believe that companies must secure all their data if they are to get the most value out of it while ensuring the long-term health of the business. When useful data turns dark, you must decide whether to store it, protect it or purge it. We have a portfolio of tools — including Data Protect Solutions, Venue and eBrevia — that identifies and redacts information, whether you’re addressing compliance issues, the M&A process or contract reviews.

With cybersecurity-related events on the rise, including data breaches and data fraud, the risks associated with dark data are on the rise, too. Tackling this challenge inside your company should be an essential part of your data management strategy.


Craig Clay

President of Global Capital Markets, DFIN