What is Light and Dark Data?

September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

Does your data live in the Light or the Dark? Data, simply put, is all the information that makes up your business. How well do you know your data? Intellectual property, trade secrets, client PII, employee PII, R&D, PHI, communications (think of your emails and IMs), documents, images, and sounds; sound familiar? Is all your business data being used to make decisions or just kept in a forgotten corner of your network?

What makes your data Light? Light Data is data that an organization collects and effectively uses to make decisions.  Security reports, survey results, data structured for reports, current files in use, current employee data, and other data if leveraged for business decisions are all examples.  The potential issue with Light Data is the ongoing costs to manage and store this information.  Once the effectiveness changes, the data moves into Dark Data.

Dark Data is the information an organization collects but does not use. The information considered dark includes log files, raw survey data, emails, notes, customer calls, draft or old versions of files, geo-location data, and previous employee data. This data is often managed ineffectively or monitored, leaving a blind spot to Data Loss Prevention (DLP) protection or other security methods, allowing threat actors to go unseen in your network before an attack.

Dark Data, once collected effectively and used for business decisions, turns into Light Data.  Dark Data can provide an organization with untapped potential advantages that increase value to their stakeholders (business partners, employees, clients, and community). The risks to not effectively use data can result in cyber threats, leaving the opportunity for privacy issues, legal troubles, and reputation damage.  Many times, Dark Data is redundant, obsolete, and trivial information that adds unnecessary costs.

Each type of data has pros and cons related to it and carry potential risk. Light Data’s value is already known and leveraged for business decisions but has ongoing management costs. Dark Data has an untapped potential to increase value to stakeholders if effectively used. However, the risk is that this Data can easily slip into Dark Data once it is no longer effectively used, causing cyber threats without proper management. It is recommended that data be vetted regularly to evade the potential risks associated with Dark Data.

Tags: Data, Security, Technology