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Security in Context: The BeyondTrust Blog

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Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting critical IT infrastructure in the context of your business.

Data Governance

Posted July 15, 2011    Morgan Holm

Hi my name is Morgan Holm and I am the director of product management. For my first blog post I will focus on a hot button topic for many of our customers and prospects, data governance. A significant portion of the data held by many organizations is in the form of unstructured data in files. There has been explosive growth in the amount of data organizations need to retain largely driven by regulatory compliance. One of our customers has over 2 petabytes worth of data today and as they continue to acquire other organizations, this amount will only increase going forward. This post will focus on some of the challenges that data stored in files poses to data governance initiatives.

Once an organization puts into place the rules around data governance (policies, compliance requirements, data definitions, organizational rules) there needs to be both accountability and proof of compliance. With file system resources this can prove very difficult if not impossible attempting to leverage native file system auditing to understand what changes are occurring on the file servers in the environment. The first big challenge is that you need to ensure the appropriate auditing is set and stays set on all of the servers in the environment to even capture the information. The next issue is that these event logs are then stored on each individual server. There are simply not enough resources or time for organizations to go to each server to analyze the information. Given the volume of events that could be generated, most likely by the time someone goes to look for the events on the server, the logs will have rolled over wiping out the events they were interested in.

BeyondTrust is addressing the need to understand file system changes with our upcoming PowerBroker Auditor for File System module. This solution is not dependant on the native event logs so there no need to manage native auditing or worry if a log is cleared before it could be collected. The file system events are forwarded to a SQL database as they happen. Centralization of the event data provides the means to view the changes or have schedule reports sent to data owners and managers of who is making what changes. This ensures that the data owners and managers know what is happening and can quickly resolve issues to conform to their data governance rules. Understanding changes to the file system is critical to maintaining data governance. Proving and maintaining compliance along with accountability are critical aspects to ensure the rules defined for data governance are continually enforced. Understanding the complete picture of file system permissions to minimize your risk is also critical, but I will save that for another post.

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