Data Owner Responsibilities When Migrating to an EFSS

While it is easy to say and conclude that all data belongs to your organization, complications arise when the person accountable for data ownership has to be identified. Even when the IT department spearheads the process of processing, storing, and backing up data among other functions, the fact is that it does not own business data. Worse still, outsourced service providers do not own this data any more than the IT department does.

Who Owns Data? What are Data Owner’s Responsibilities?

In the cloud environment, a data owner is a business user who understands the business impact of a security breach that would lead to loss of data, integrity, and confidentiality. This responsibility makes the data owner very conscious of decisions made to mitigate and prevent such security incidents.

When migrating to an EFSS, business data owners should do the following:

Classify Data

Data classification has been extensively labeled as a remedy to data breaches. In essence, data classification helps to significantly reduce insider threats, which are reported to cause 43% of data breaches. Other than malicious employees, data breaches are a result of human error. Additionally, the growing data volume experienced by businesses makes it difficult to track data; hence, it is challenging to know where data is stored, who accesses it, and what they do with this information. By making sure that only authorized employees access certain information, the probability of a data breach is likely to reduce.

Clearly, the need for data classification has never been more evident. To properly classify data, a few measures should be taken by a business.

  • Have detailed “acceptable use” policies. All employees should internalize and sign these documents, which are then reviewed annually or as needed.
  • Make use of data classification technologies. When you train employees using a data classification technology, they will better understand the sensitivity of the data they are creating, storing, and sharing. Consequently, they will treat this data with the highest level of confidentiality and caution.
  • Understand industry regulations to classify data accordingly.
  • Once data is properly classified, apply appropriate access controls and continuously yet randomly monitor data activity to nab suspicious activities as soon as they are carried out.

Monitor Data Life Cycle Activities

When migrating to an EFSS, issues such as data retention and disposal should constantly be monitored by a business data owner. Simply put, how long will the EFSS solution retain your data and how long will it take to dispose of your data completely after you have deleted it? What happens to your data once your contract with the provider ends?

Before a business owner looks at an EFSS provider’s life cycle, he needs to understand the typical seven phases of data life cycle. From the first stage of data capture, data maintenance, data synthesis, data usage, data publication, or data archival to data purging, how safe is it? Who has access to it and how long is it retained in the EFSS?

When this data is stored, is it used and accessed by third-parties who, sadly, cause 63% of all data breaches? Is the EFSS data retention and disposal policy compliant with the law? For example, data retention requirements stipulated in the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) state that organizations that accept credit cards must adhere to a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) data retention and disposal policy.

Understand Enterprise File Sync-and-Share (EFSS) Deployment Models, As a Way of Assessing Risks

Despite the existence of extensive advice on the best EFSS solutions that exist, business data owners need to gain some technical knowledge. How many EFSS deployment models do you know, for example? Since this is a pretty broad topic, we will briefly discuss three models.

Public Cloud EFSS

In addition to being fast and easy to set up, a public cloud could be cheaper in terms of both infrastructure and storage costs. However, public cloud EFSS might not be the best regarding data protection and security, leaving your company exposed and vulnerable to regulatory non-compliance. It is, therefore, important to analyze the security measures the public cloud has to offer before settling.

Private Cloud EFSS

Although private cloud is believed to be more expensive compared to the public cloud, the cost of ownership depends largely on the vendor and infrastructure choice (for example, FileCloud offers the lowest cost of ownership across public and private clouds). Private cloud EFSS is worthwhile regarding services and security offered. With an adoption rate of 77%, private cloud solutions such as FileCloud are better options. This opinion is attributed to the flexibility and control over where data is stored. Consequently, users can choose which regulations to comply with and have better control over a breach because the IT department can access all the files and monitor, protect, and salvage them, as opposed to a public cloud.

Hybrid Cloud EFSS

According to RightScale’s, “Cloud Computing Trends: 2016 State of the Cloud Survey,” hybrid cloud EFSS adoption rate is 71%. The success is believed to be the result of the ability to harness the positive attributes of both a public and private cloud all at once because, usually in a hybrid environment, some components will run on the premises while others run in the cloud. One great example of a hybrid model is an EFSS application that runs as Software as a Service (SaaS) while data is stored on the premises or at the discretion of the user company.

Closing remarks

It is the responsibility of a business data owner to ascertain that data will be kept safe and confidential before migrating to any EFSS solution. This person needs to be savvy with the advantages a chosen EFSS model offers, compliance with industry regulations, proper access and identity management, understand the EFSS data life cycle processes, and ensure that security measures such as data encryption and authentication processes are in place.

 Author: Davis Porter