Data democratization leaves enterprises at risk

Today’s digital landscape has increased enterprises’ reliance on large datasets and analytics, underscoring the value of data for business.

data democratization

A recent report from NewVantage Partners reveals 91.7% of IT and business executives out of 94 large companies are looking to increase their investments in big data projects in other data and AI initiatives. As more data is produced, enterprises are implementing data democratization strategies to enable their employees to access these datasets quickly and easily. Data democratization strategies are becoming increasingly popular as companies of all industries are adopting these policies to enhance productivity across the workplace, improve the customer experience, and advance employees’ abilities to make data-informed decisions.

What, exactly, is data democratization?

Data democratization is a process that empowers all employees—particularly those that are not members of the IT team—to have unlimited access to all digital information, such as all the company’s databases.

Data democratization allows employees to freely access data and the associated data tools without the involvement of IT. It increases employee productivity without bogging down the IT team with data access requests.

Most recently, we’ve witnessed The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Boehringer Ingelheim incorporate data democratization strategies into their business.

It’s encouraging to see companies harness the power of data in order to advance business objectives. Unfortunately, as data—as well as third-party partners and other network entry points—increase, so do security risks and the probability of network penetration. Not only are troves of sensitive data at risk, but the company’s hard-earned reputation, as well.

And cybercriminals have developed sophisticated tactics and techniques and are going to greater lengths to steal data. The shift to cloud-based applications and file-sharing platforms to accommodate data democratization has only made hackers jobs easier.

New techniques and exploits can undermine even the most sophisticated infrastructures

Data democratization strategies ensure that company data is easily accessible by all employees, regardless of their position, without the involvement of the IT department. As valuable company data is placed in the hands of more individuals, cybercriminals can broaden the scope of potential targets to hack.

Now an entire organization’s employee population theoretically faces an increased risk of malware penetration, and IT departments have a more difficult time deciphering when an unauthorized user has infiltrated the cloud-based systems where the data lives.

Many organizations have implemented traditional detection-based security technology to thwart these threats, yet these solutions are only able to detect threats with known malware signatures. As enterprises work to secure their cloud infrastructures, they need to consider that solutions that focus on detecting threats are unable to protect against sophisticated attacks.

Security technology can hinder productivity

As mentioned, proper security is critical for data democratization. Yet, in order for data democratization to work and make an impact, productivity has to be a critical focus. This creates a serious challenge as security and productivity typically don’t go hand in hand. This is largely because many security technologies obstruct productivity, and IT teams are working with restricted budgets that hinder their ability to deploy new technologies. As a result, end users experience frequent password update requirements, blocked or quarantined files, or restricted browser access.

IT teams were already overwhelmed but coupled with endless requests to remediate these inefficiencies only added to their workload and created a backlog. End users don’t always have time to spare and if the IT team cannot get to their request fast enough, it often results in employees working around security policies. Or, as seen with the implementation of data democratization, enterprise leaders make security take a backseat, increasing the probability of a cyberattack.

Identify and plug the gaps in your security strategies

Enterprises need to adopt security technology that does not hinder productivity or place extra responsibilities on both the end user and members of the security team. Blocking or quarantining content that appears malicious can lead to productivity loss and mistakes, such as blocking legitimate files.

Additionally, taking valuable time to train end users and your employees to recognize threats is ineffective because you can never train human error out of the equation. In an era of increased collaboration and employee empowerment, it is past due that we stop blaming the end user for the actions of cybercriminals.

Organizations cannot afford to sacrifice security to accommodate these processes. To ensure security and productivity are able to occur in concert, enterprise leadership needs to update their security technologies to solutions that remove the onus from the end user and the IT team.

Technology that is invisible to the end user makes for happy and productive employees. As recent attacks have shown us, it is imperative that enterprises act now to identify gaps in their cloud ecosystems and cybersecurity postures to best protect themselves from cybercriminals.

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