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Why You Should Classify Your Unstructured Data

Author: Tim Steele

Unstructured data, which is challenging for organizations to manage and search, has become one of the greatest risks in the corporate world.

Some are addressing their unstructured data to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or in anticipation of similar regulations elsewhere, but they are really only addressing databases and other core business systems. What’s left untouched actually constitutes the majority of data held by organizations: emails, spreadsheets, presentations and other unstructured data that ought to be classified in storage in order to be easily searched, and for the benefit of information retrieval and compliance and risk management, according to eWEEK.

By the Numbers:

  • 20%: Share of data classification projects that are limited to databases and other core business systems.
  • 80%: The remaining share that represents emails, presentations, PDF files and more.

Source: eWEEK

Here’s the good news: There are automated data classification technologies to ease the process of managing this unstructured data. eWEEK lists six reasons that organizations should take the initiative to classify all unstructured data.

1. Regulatory Readiness: With new regulations and privacy laws like GDPR, it’s important to be able to interrogate unstructured data on-demand and at its source. Considering GDPR is a harbinger of what’s to come around the world (for example with the California Consumer Privacy Act), organizations everywhere should be proactively preparing for data regulations.

2. Faster data searches: Improve legal and regulatory compliance and speed information flow by using classification technology that sits outside the file and reduces search time (Did You Know? With Heureka you can rapidly respond to Subject Access Requests by searching unstructured data across your enterprise using a single interface, regardless of location).

3. Improved security controls: By categorizing data, organizations can deploy security controls like encryption, identity and access management (IAM) and data loss prevention (DLP) to keep sensitive information where it belongs.

4. Email protection: Organizations can apply their own specific handling rules to assign sensitivity levels to unstructured files. Email attachments, for example, “can be protected by setting up rules that disconnect the attachment from the email message, move it to a protected repository, and replace the file with a link in the email that can be opened only with appropriate permissions,” eWEEK notes.

5. Classification-based file storage: Unstructured data that has been classified can be automatically moved to the specified data repository, and protections such as expiration dates on shared files can be added.

6. Retention policy enforcement: Data can be treated dependent on specific requirements. eWEEK notes that internal emails may need to be accessible for only three years but that contract negotiations may need to be retained for a much longer period. Metadata allows for automatic purging of data that is no longer needed.

Heureka to the rescue

Heureka implements three different methods for classification. First, Heureka’s auto-classification engine performs a daily, automatic search for PII information and classifies (tags) the data. Second, users may create their own customized tags which are then automatically stored in a global tagging library and tag intelligence is then shared across all enterprise endpoints. Finally, Heureka can import classification tags from external sources including AI/Machine Learning systems as well as E-Discovery platforms. Heureka provides value from the instant it is installed by allowing intelligent, data-driven decisions can be made based on file tagging and classification of data.

Sharing intelligence gained from the Heureka Platform is critical. This is the reason Heureka provides tools to export files and file metadata along with Heureka-specific classifications such as risk or regular expression tagging. In addition to file and metadata export, Heureka provides a true intelligence delivery platform by exporting file-level indexed text which can be used by systems that incorporate machine learning, AI or text analytics for deeper analysis.

Heureka has revolutionized this process by giving organizations the power to search across thousands of machines, simultaneously and to surgically target personal information in minutes. Organizations can now respond quickly and completely to subject access requests.

Our goal is to empower clients to gain understanding and take control of their unstructured data. Heureka helps companies plan, inventory and remediate files before they become a problem. Organizations that fail to act on their unstructured data have greater potential for fines and regulatory action with little excuse for not managing their data.

For more information, schedule your demo now.