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Obstacles to Protecting Data Abound

CFOs should apply a similar degree of governance over their organization’s proprietary knowledge as they would over an individual’s personal data.

Keep an eye on your data slum

Large amounts of unstructured data, typically in the form of spreadsheets, Word documents and emails form in messy, unplanned data slums. The value of the information contained in this unstructured data in the wrong hands could be worth far more than the structured data contained in your enterprise transactional systems. It is often this unstructured data that contains the rationale for your executive decision-making, organizational strategies and investment plans.

The rapid adoption of cloud and mobile computing are relevant examples of technologies where the physical location of the production data center may not be known with absolute certainty. Global providers use geographically diverse data centers in different countries to minimize the risks to an organization’s IT systems from natural or man-made disasters. While the location of your production systems may be known with certainty, do you know where the backup and related storage mediums reside and how they are protected?

When it comes to cloud computing, you are reliant on the security controls of the service provider. The reported security problems faced by Dropbox are one example of the potential challenges of cloud computing for CFOs concerned about competitive information retention.

The reality is that the digital world is increasingly borderless. Treat it as such when it comes to protecting your organization’s key knowledge assets that are held in digital form. Test assumptions and validate claims made by technology evangelists as to the applicability of a particular technology offering.

Rob Livingstone, a former CIO, is the author of Navigating Through the Cloud. He runs an IT advisory practice and is also a Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia, where he teaches strategy and innovation in UTS’s flagship MBITM program. Subscribe to Rob’s monthly insights newsletter at www.rob-livingstone.com or email him at rob@rob-livingstone.com.

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