Recently, I’ve given some presentations on Dark Data. Back in May, I talked about “Dark Data in Live Forensics“, for the TechPoint – New Economy New Rules breakfast. Last month, I covered the topic in more detail with a presentation called, “Dark Data and Missing Evidence“. This was presented at the Indianapolis Chapter meeting of the ASDFED. A week later, I explained how this issue impacts records managers, at the Indianapolis chapter meeting of ARMA. That presentation was titled, “Dark Data Hiding in your Records – Opportunity or Danger?”
What exactly is Dark Data, and why should you be concerned? In 2005, Paul Chin wrote about Dark Data hiding on corporate networks. He said, “There’s often a large unseen – and in some cases, unknown – portion of corporate content that never reaches the general user community. This is what’s known as dark data.“ In 2007, Thomas Goetz wrote an article for Wired Magazine that discussed scientific data that is lost, because it didn’t produce popular results. He said that Dark Data, “ends up stuffed in some lab drawer. The result is a vast body of squandered knowledge that represents a waste of resources and a drag on scientific progress. This information – call it dark data – must be set free.“ Finally in 2008, Malcolm Chisholm compared Dark Data to “dark matter” in the universe, and applied the term to Enterprise Information Management (EIM). He wrote, “When it comes to data, just how much of it is hidden within the enterprise is extremely difficult to ascertain. Yet we all know it is out there.”
Do these people know something that we don’t? If you’ve ever searched for a lost document, or experienced the loss of data that you put a lot of work into, you know the feeling that your data assets are somewhere just outside your reach. You may not have attached an appropriate term to this, but you know that there is data hiding somewhere.
Well, there is more data hiding than people realize. Every time you create a document, delete an image file or format a hard drive, something is recorded or left behind. You can either igonore this, and accept the risks, or deal with it head on. Whether you have employees deleting evidence subject to a legal hold and embezzling data to your competitors, or your credit card numbers are lingering on your personal PC at home, there is obvious risk of someone discovering your Dark Data and using it against you.
Step 1: Find out what kinds of data are hiding from you.
Step 2: Learn how to find and manage the hidden data that you care about.
Step 3: Develop best practices to address your risks from Dark Data moving forward.
Step 4: Obtain the tools you need to protect your valuable data from others.
Over the coming months, I will be covering the different types of Dark Data that affect us. My business tends to focus more towards Digital Forensics Investigators, but I promise to cover each topic from entry level to the detail that investigators would appreciate. For a preview of what will be covered, take a look at one of my presentations listed above. If you would like me to speak to your organization, on this topic, feel free to contact me at Rob.Zirnstein (at) ForensicInnovations.com.