Balancing Data Security and Accessibility

Keeping pace with change

Out with the old, in with the disruptive. Digital disruption has changed every aspect of business and now more than ever, people are paying close attention to the way businesses approach data security. During the 2018 Egnyte Customer Summit, industry leaders presented compelling insight into how the data landscape is evolving and how businesses are being forced to adapt.

Chris McClean from Forrester spoke about digital disruption and the rise of insight-driven business, citing the importance of seamless and secure data access for company productivity. Here are some noteworthy takeaways from Chris’ presentation:

Balancing Data Security and Accessibility - Egnyte Blog

Customers, check out the recording in our Community.

Insight-driven companies use the data they collect to continually adjust the way customers interact with them. Companies that have adopted this new, disruptive business model often see an average annual growth rate of 30%. Data is king and it pays to use better analytics.

Following the rise of industry disruptors like Amazon and Netflix, people have become accustomed to simple, fast, curated data access; and expectations are being carried over into the professional sector. However, when it comes to maintaining productivity in the workplace, users cite rigid company security as the main reason they can’t gain timely access to the data they need. Without data access, transformation grinds to a halt. So, in order to stay competitive, businesses must adapt their content systems to fit employee needs. This is a challenge, especially when only 31% of employees report receiving permission from IT to bypass company policy.

“How can we be digitally disruptive or digitally transformative if our people can’t get access to the data they need?”

–– Chris McClean, VP, Research Director, Security & Risk, Forrester

The consequences of shadow IT

Although most data breaches are accidental, companies must understand the reason employees circumvent policy. Employees often make these mistakes because they believe it’s the most efficient way to get their jobs done. Businesses cannot fault employees for sidestepping protocol if they don’t provide access to the right information or the ability to collaborate securely.

“If you’re digitally disruptive, if you’re going to be competitive if you want to be one of these companies growing at 30% annually, or anything like that, then you have to open data up. You have to make it available and it has to be collaborative.”

–– Chris McClean, Forrester

One of the biggest challenges for businesses today is finding a balance between making data available for digital transformation and ensuring it stays protected. Organizations need to make data accessible to the right people. This is only possible if businesses know exactly where their data is, so it’s imperative for companies to implement proper data monitoring capabilities.

Content visibility leads data security

Data must be secured and classified before it can be useful. According to Chris McClean, there are several ways to protect business information:

  • Defining data: Requires locating data companywide and then classifying it to determine the different types of information stored, including sensitive, useful, ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial), PII (personally identifiable information), etc...
  • Dissecting data: Includes data intelligence to identify who’s using the data, where it’s going, and how it’s changing, as well as data analytics to define what can be archived, what is accessed most, and what can be permanently deleted.
  • Defending data: Involves access control to help companies know how people can access data, inspection to ensure data integrity, disposal to make sure data retention requirements are being met and there is no added liability for unnecessary data being stored, and obfuscation through data encryption or other methods in order to make data useless to malicious hackers.

Businesses driven by insights rely on data for so many reasons and while data protection alone can be straightforward, it’s very hard to track data manipulation or unusual access behavior. These best practices can help businesses find that sweet spot between security and productivity.

It’s more important than ever to invest in proper security practices and to ensure those procedures enable employees to stay productive. Businesses looking to maintain a competitive edge must adapt with evolving technological capabilities. Chris McClean recommends companies, “support employees with technology so they don’t need to elude security and identify risks based on regulatory rules, loss of competitive advantage, and reputational change.”

Giving employees the technological flexibility to keep them efficient doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice data security. If you’re looking to increase visibility and control, Egnyte offers content governance for businesses of any size. To learn more, visit

Get started with Egnyte today

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Julie Mullins

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