Trends such as online storage and bring your own device (BYOD) are creating large holes within organisations due to the unstructured nature of the network access.

Speaking to SC Magazine, Phil Allen, director of identity and access management at Quest Software, said that due to the increasingly unstructured nature of the information that users are producing and saving, 80 per cent of data is now 'unstructured', as emails, PDFs, videos and images do not fit neatly into databases or readily searchable application formats.

Allen said: “There is more and more [data] sitting in file shares and SharePoint and who owns it? How critical is what is sitting there? It may be that devices aren't able to access what is sitting in the file shares, but you cannot control it, so there is no view of what the information is, but you need to manage that and put it into a format where it is simply manageable. It is all about putting controls in place and providing relevant information to those who need it. If you don't know about it, there is no way of accessing it.”

Allen said that one solution is a proper access governance policy, but over the last two years he had not seen evidence of users providing 'the right access at the right time' to applications and data.

“This is what has occurred with unstructured data; we are giving good control via identity and access management (IAM) to manage access of applications, but access to data is unchanged so there is no trend to 'identity manage' the system, so we see a rise in 12 months. [We've] got to get more control around our unstructured data,” Allen said.

He said that good IAM and access governance is about putting controls in place, so even if it is open to more people, you know who the owner is and if you want access you can request access and open access to more people.

He said: “With SharePoint, it becomes very relevant. The data is visible to everyone and without good governance. There is a business risk about data falling into the wrong hands, but it is just as important to provide the means and mechanisms to request access to information easily. Those processes are going through to request access to information and there is not a good way to do this as there is for identity management, bringing together the separate identity management system to detect governance is very important.”

Allen concluded by saying that with unstructured data, often the problem is that the file share has been there so long that there is a problem in getting visibility to what is in the infrastructure.