There are a lot of reasons companies need to be more careful with their data. Unstructered data can do a lot of damage to a business’s bottom line. There are times when the damage that is done is obvious but there are many more times when the problems are less easy to spot. If your company lost out on a contract, was it because the winner was better or because you data was leaked? It is not always that easy to know. The reasons for the inability to recognize these problems for what they are are varied.
People in your organization may not want to admit that their actions led to the loss of sensitive information about your business plans or your customers or clients. When you have unstructured data, you can open yourself up for a number of problems that can impact how well your business does.
To understand what the issues and and how to prevent problems, it is important to understand the difference between structured and unstructured data. Typically, databases are structured. Data that has been made by individuals is unstructured. This can be anything from a plan for your business, notes from meetings and other materials that are crucial to how well you business does. One of the reasons this data is so vulnerable is that your employees can be your greatest assets but also your weakest links. Two areas where businesses often drop the ball in terms of computer security are in using the most secure passwords and by opening emails from people they do not know.
There are things you can do to make sure all of that unstructured data does not leave you open to problems.
- Look at what unstructured data you have. You cannot begin to secure your unstructured text and data if you are not even sure what data you have to protect. Some of your unstructured information may not need the same level of protection. If you are working on new bids for a big project, those bids need to be protected when old or unsuccessful proposals do not need to be protected. This is because, they cannot hurt you if they fall into the wrong hands.
- Look at the people who have access to your files. Not everyone who works for you needs to have full access to all of your files and documents. The people who always need to be in the loop are people who are higher up the food chain. The top people at your company and their assistants should have the access they need. When you only let people have access to the files and documents that they need to do the jobs they were hired to do, you have a more secure system. There are no systems or programs that you can install that are better than just managing access.
- Have real policies in place to secure your network. A lot of people around the planet use passwords such as “password” or “1234.” You should install software that requires people to develop stronger passwords and change them every four to six months. At the same time, you need to make sure everyone understands the importance of only opening emails (especially when they have attachments) that are from people and organizations you know and trust. Limiting what employees use office technology for can also help. Having the right document categorization software can also help with this.
- Make sure everyone follows your rules. When people at the top of your food chain have to follow all of the rules regarding network security, everyone will see just how important you think securing your unstructured data is and they will follow suit. If people are not setting the right sample, there is no reason to have the policy. No policy matters if no one follows it.
Unstructured data can be the Achille’s heel for a lot of businesses. Getting a handle on what the status of your data and text is will be the first step in making your data safer. This can make a big difference in improving your profitability and growing your bottom line. The good news is the work you do here will pay off.