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Safeguarding Cybersecurity Amid Data Sprawl

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “Identity Access: The Key to Data Governance.” Download the full report here.

The federal government handles massive amounts of data containing sensitive information about its operations, spending and workforce. This information ranks among America’s most precious assets.

Unfortunately, data is a double-edged sword for the federal government. The large quantity of federal data makes it both valuable and difficult to manage. Rising data sprawl makes understanding this information daunting, and insights are missed as agencies store their data in isolated silos. Data sprawl occurs when data is moved from its original context, duplicating it and making it more difficult to find.

Unstructured data is especially problematic. The growing diversity and volume of unstructured digital content presents several challenges for agencies, such as determining the value of that data and who can utilize it.

Unstructured data, which includes formats like photos, satellite imagery and videos, also contains numerous security gaps that can be exploited. Sensitive data sitting in a structured endpoint, such as a database, becomes unstructured when it’s moved or copied to a spreadsheet or document and stored in a file server where it’s exposed.

“That’s how we start to lose control of sensitive data,” said Frank Briguglio, a Public Sector Identity Governance Strategist at SailPoint, an identity governance solutions provider. “That’s where the bleeding happens in the sprawl.”

The federal government’s workforce structure makes the situation worse. The various agency contractors, employees and private partners complicate the process of tracking data access and ownership across multiple mediums.

“It’s taking data out of the IT realm and into the business realm,” said Jim Russell, Director of Federal Sales at SailPoint. “It’s putting that information into much more casual hands as it relates to the forum where this data is possessed.”

Agencies subsequently need a strong data governance strategy for protecting their sensitive citizen and national security information from cybersecurity threats. This strategy must address how organizations govern the identities of their contractors, employees and partners. It must also decide how these users access agencies’ data and networks while meeting federal cybersecurity standards.

Identity governance is the answer that today’s governments need. It’s the foundation of any successful data management strategy. It also helps agencies get a grip on who’s accessing their data, how they’re using it, when and why.

Download the full report now and find out how your agency can implement a powerful data governance strategy based on identity access and governance.

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