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Breathing New Life into Active Directory

Breathing New Life into Active Directory

  • March 2016
  • 11 pages
  • ID: 3717452
  • Format: PDF
  • By Frost & Sullivan

Summary

Mitigating Unstructured Data Exposure

While turning back the hands of time to a more locked down existence is unrealistic, the direction and consequences of sensitive data exposure and breaches are most concerning. Bridging these two is the subject of this week’s insight: data access governance (DAG), and the software solutions offered by STEALTHbits to improve and streamline DAG. Among the objectives of DAG is to reduce the exposure of unstructured sensitive data by improving and streamlining the lifecycle management of account access permissions, and appropriate use of those permissions. Ultimately, the goal is to get the right data to the right people without circumventing essential business activities that rely on the exchange and sharing of sensitive data.

Introduction
Pre-PC (personal computer) and the Internet, data security was a bit humdrum. Sensitive data was neatly packed into relational databases (structured data), located in physically isolated networks; and accessed through customized applications and structured query language (SQL) requests, centrally run by a cloistered few.2 The application output was mostly in paper form, with no digital traces that could expose the sensitive data to anyone other than the intended paper recipients. A nice end-to-end, locked-down existence. How utterly archaic compared to today’s operating model. Today, countless digital fountains spew
data of unimaginable magnitude to users up and down the organizational chart and across departments. The accessing users, in turn, reconstitute the data into a variety of free-form (unstructured) digital containers (e.g., audio and video files; Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files), which they frequently and electronically share with other employees, business partners, and customers. Unless bound by legal, ethical, or technical constraints, these downstream recipients can re-share with others, or cut and paste portions of the original data into files of their own making, and then share with another set of recipients.

Although this unlocking and increased flow of unstructured data has propelled businesses and the economy forward and sparked innovation, the exposure of sensitive data beyond authorized recipients has been and continues to be a growing concern. Furthermore, the prospect of stolen credentials (usernames and passwords) casts doubt on whether all users are legitimate. For example, accounts where users store their unstructured data files are vulnerable to account takeover (i.e., hackers using stolen credential to gain entry). The same is true for the accounts of the file recipients. In the sharing of files, the hacker’s objective is
accomplished if either the account credentials of either the sender or one of the receivers can be compromised.

While turning back the hands of time to a more locked down existence is unrealistic, the direction and consequences of sensitive data exposure and breaches are most concerning. Bridging these two is the subject of this week’s insight: data access governance (DAG), and the software solutions offered by STEALTHbits to improve and streamline DAG. Among the objectives of DAG is to reduce the exposure of unstructured sensitive data by improving and streamlining the lifecycle management of account access permissions, and appropriate use of those permissions. Ultimately, the goal is to get the right data to the right people without circumventing essential business activities that rely on the exchange and sharing of sensitive data.

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