How to Corral Sensitive Enterprise Data without Locking It Away from Users

By now it’s well documented that employees will take IT tasks into their own hands when IT cannot give them the support they need, and when they need it.  The phenomenon is ubiquitous and persistent, even to the point that it’s been dubbed “shadow IT.”  Gartner recently noted that by 2020, a third of successful attacks experienced by enterprises will be on their shadow IT resources.

Mobility and Shadow IT Team Up to Put Content at Risk

One venue in which shadow IT has run rampant is collaboration.  In fact, the rate at which employees are using their own personal collaboration tools is on the rise in 70% of global businesses, a figure which will undoubtedly grow with the unfettered increase in the use of mobile devices in the enterprise and the flat year-over-year spending for information technology at many companies.  

Locking content behind the corporate firewall is no longer a viable solution.  Mobile workers struggle with VPN issues, and external partners don’t have access to the information they need to collaborate effectively.  The challenge is so great that the concept of the database as a repository for content has become fractured – to now indicate files of any kind stored on nonvolatile media on any device, anywhere, and with no centralized management or visibility. 

File-sync and share solutions are a big cause of the chaos.  Although they provide immediate relief for employees requiring immediate access to their content, they invite risk.   What happens when employees leave? The content they shared using their own consumer drive may never be recovered.  Or what happens if a shared Dropbox account gets compromised? If the data pertains to a customer, the employee or his company could be in legal hot water, to the tune of fines or even imprisonment if malicious intent is proven.   

Or an employee looking for a workaround could send proprietary data to a personal email account, or move it to consumer cloud storage repository, before downloading it to a mobile device. While seemingly harmless, your organization’s data has now been scattered, placing your company’s intellectual property at risk and costing the company millions of dollars, whether from lawsuits or lost brand reputation. Without any tracking by IT, these rogue pieces of content can become ticking content time bombs.

Complexity of Managing Corporate Content

In short, the complexity of managing corporate content has never been greater. New mobile and connected devices, lenient BYOD policies, the proliferation of cloud and mobile productivity apps, and flexible, mobile working styles are just a few of the challenges. Where content lives, and how it is used, is changing the way your company creates, shares and manages files.

Many IT departments try to rein in the content chaos and manage security by blocking access. However, not all content is created equal, and no single policy will apply to all content.  Enterprises need to first understand how to classify their content – whether as public, confidential or restricted – in order to manage content chaos with relevant policies in place.  A content management system, running either on-premises or in the cloud, can bring order to the chaos. 

Comprehensive Security and Administration is Required

Content management systems with comprehensive security and administration features empower employees to put their content to work because that content will be readily available no matter where it’s stored without the fear of risk.  A content management system manages and synchronizes content across cloud and on-premises repositories, and ideally integrates with a range of mobile platforms and applications – allowing it to encompass a multitude of devices beyond the enterprise firewall. 

Such systems can also authenticate users, classify content, merge similar content artifacts from multiple sources into a single comprehensive view, and integrate provisions for information governance and compliance.  They also provide “context around content,” adding contextual information such as comments, preferences, geo-location data, and even unique attributes such as a customer name or invoice number – allowing the content to be made available at the right time, to the right users, and within the right business applications.

With the ability to access, browse and share business content on either side of the enterprise firewall, employees no longer need to resort to risky workarounds to gain immediate access to content that is the lifeblood of their company’s operations.