By Modeen Malick, Senior Systems Engineer for MESAT at Commvault

Most organisations today have a reasonable idea of how to protect data in their data centre. However, a business can often forget – or ignore – the data that resides outside of its data centre, on endpoint devices such as laptops and smartphones. If the business fails to include endpoint data in its data management strategy, this could put the company at risk of data loss.

The Challenge

Businesses run on data and it’s growing at an exponential rate. According to IDC Research, digital data will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42% through 2020. However, included in this data accumulation is data stored on devices such as laptops and smart phones.

Businesses that adopt Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) strategies or don’t enforce an automated backup policy for data stored on employee devices are unlikely to have control or insight into the data stored on these devices, in the users’ private cloud storage systems, or even on users’ own backup devices such as flash drives.

Typically, organisations forget to back endpoint data up, or they choose not to. The first reason is that they trust their staff to ensure they back up their own data or, secondly, because they consider backing up and managing that data to be too time consuming, detracting from their staff’s productivity. Apart from the fact that there are ways to protect and manage endpoint data without impacting the end user, failure to manage this data puts the business at risk.

The Risk

Data stored on endpoint devices could incorporate vital company information which, if lost, stolen or hacked, could impact the business. With malware attacks increasingly on the rise, businesses cannot afford not to take this data into account. Many recent ransomware attacks have targeted endpoint devices, either aiming at holding the device’s data to ransom, or to gain access to the larger network.

Apart from the importance of this information, businesses also have regulatory requirements to consider such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa. Businesses that are unaware of what data is stored and where it is stored, may find themselves non-compliant. This puts the company at risk of fines, over and above the risk of reputation damage and data loss.

Managing end point data

Understanding what data resides on endpoints protects against the loss of intellectual property, gives insight into the location of data, helps with compliance, reduces the costs associated with data loss and assists to augment and support a comprehensive data governance strategy.

There are tools which allow organisations to seamlessly manage endpoint data and incorporate it into their data management strategy. These tools offer the following advantages:

  • Protection without impacting productivity – backups are automated and enabled to run behind the scenes so that employees can continue to work even as their data is being backed up.
  • Advanced security – endpoints are encrypted so that even if a laptop is stolen, the data is illegible. These tools also allow the business to make use of remote wipe functions, either wiping the entire device in the event off a theft or wiping only personal information when passing an existing device on to a new user.
  • Visibility – businesses have insight into what data resides where at any given time, helping them to manage and understand this data.
  • Secure file sharing – The ability to leverage an authorised tool for the sharing of sensitive company data helps reduce the risk of users using their own, potentially insecure sharing tools, whether files are shared internally or externally.
  • Mobile access – With the mobile workforce being embraced by many organisations, users need to be able to access their data from anywhere and at any time.
  • Flexibility – businesses retain the ability to leverage their chosen data storage system, whether it’s the cloud, on premise, or hybrid.

It’s critical that businesses take endpoint data seriously, employing tools that enable them to seamlessly incorporate endpoint data into their data management strategy without negatively impacting productivity.