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In an effort get a better understanding of their user-generated data, Northern helped a large North American financial institution by providing an analysis of their complete data footprint. The total amount of data analyzed was around half a petabyte and the analysis included looking at if the data was active, dormant or old, if the data has a clear and current owner, and if there were file types that shouldn’t exist in the environment.

Additionally, the analysis included looking at file content, specifically a scan was made to look for files with the name containing a few versions of the word “password”. This scan returned more than 40,000 files with a matching file name. While a lot of these files were identified as legitimate files that were application generated or encrypted, thousands of files in user home shares where files that definitely shouldn’t exist and poses a very real threat to the organization. Saving Personal Identifiable Information (PII) data is heavily regulated in most countries and industries with failure to adhere to the regulation potentially resulting in large fines, not to mention the damage to an organization’s reputation.

The analysis revealed the owner names and file locations of these files so that they could be addressed individually in an effort to education the user population and to change their behavior for the future. Obviously, this type of risky behavior will always be a part of any large organization and it’s important to regularly follow up on this, and other, behavior that can pose risk to the organization. Since most of these files where text files, Word files or Excel files it’s impossible to implement an automatic system of preventing these files from being saved based on file type alone, but with continuous reports and notifications the issue can be addressed with relatively low effort and potentially prevent disastrous consequences.

Northern offers new and existing customers this kind of Initial State Report, that can be customized to areas of concern for the industry the organization is in. If you would like to know more Contact Northern.

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