Unstructured Data Continues to be a Cyber Security Blind Spot: 3 Takeaways from RSAC 2023


After a busy month of events, which concluded with the RSA Conference (RSAC) in San Francisco, we are energized by what we’ve heard from data and information security professionals. During all of these events — at RSAC, Gartner Data & Analytics Summit, and several other events we attended – one thing was abundantly clear: the unstructured data challenge is real, larger organizations are waking up to this reality, and yet the vast majority of organizations are not ready to address it.

Here are our three main takeaways from the RSAC and similar events:

1. Data security is the “next frontier” of cyber security initiatives, and employees remain the weak link in any cyber security strategy.

According to updated research from IDC, unstructured data now makes up 90 percent of all enterprise data, and it’s growing by 50 percent annually. A key driver of this growth and the risk associated with that growth are employees. Internal users create, update, and share documents at a breakneck pace – documents that often contain sensitive information. Whether that’s financial information, personal information, or intellectual property, an organization’s most mission-critical assets are typically unstructured data, which internal users broadly manage on their own.

This democratization of data is a significant contributor to the fact that in 2022, the most common attack vectors were phishing and stolen or compromised user credentials (a combined 40 percent of all data breaches).

If security professionals aren’t aware of what’s in this unstructured data (or where it’s being stored) and can’t keep up with the pace of growth, how can they begin to secure it?

2. Large organizations understand that securing their unstructured data is a challenge, but they don’t know where to start.

One of the top things, if not the top thing, we heard from DryvIQ booth visitors during RSAC was, “I just don’t know what I don’t know.” They know their data is growing daily, and they know users are working in multiple systems – some known and some unknown. But the thought of cracking into every file in these systems to understand what they’re storing, where and how it’s being shared, and where the risks are lurking is overwhelming. To do this in perpetuity, in a way that keeps up with the volume, variety, and velocity of data they’re responsible for, seems impossible.

The sense of urgency in this area is undoubtedly growing. Still, there remains a need for more awareness in the industry about existing solutions to classify and manage unstructured data, as well as an inability for many of these solutions to keep up with the demand (in platform reach, speed, and scalability).

3. Unstructured data classification will be an essential foundation of every data project – period.

You can’t secure data you can’t see. You can’t govern data you don’t understand. You can’t be sure you’re maximizing the value of your data if you don’t know what you have to work with.

Whether for data security, DLP, data governance, cost reduction, or other initiatives, deploying a single platform that can continuously scan and classify unstructured data across on-premises and cloud platforms is a vital first step that will illuminate the path forward.

Data stewards and security professionals need to begin with an understanding of where sensitive data resides, which users are accessing it, and how it’s being shared externally and internally to move forward with successful data protection and governance strategies.

The time to manage and protect unstructured data has arrived

Based on everything we’ve heard so far in 2023, unstructured data is a major blind spot for organizations when it comes to security, and many are at the early stages of recognizing and grappling with this challenge. This problem isn’t going away any time soon – it’s only getting worse as data grows and bad actors become more sophisticated.

But help is here.

The DryvIQ platform offers a single solution to continually classify, manage, and protect unstructured data across more than 40 on-premises and cloud-based platforms at incredible speed and scale.

If you’re ready to take control of your data, contact us today for a demo of DryvIQ’s unstructured data management platform.

Krystal Elliott
Krystal Elliott