By GABEY GOHbytz@thestar.com.my
PETALING JAYA: Most Malaysian companies are wrestling with various issues concerning their business information and other electronic data, according to a study by a security software vendor.
Symantec Corp said the survey revealed that 98% of the businesses have had confidential information inadvertently exposed outside of the company during the past year.
Also, about 46% of the companies have experienced compliance failures related to business information during the same period.
According to the study, local businesses have experienced various forms of data loss, as well. These were caused by a variety of factors, including human error, hardware failure, and network security breaches that were due to lost or stolen devices.
"Businesses can address these challenges by taking proactive steps to build an information-centric IT model to protect their valuable data (and do so) cost effectively," said Nigel Tan, Symantec's principal consultant for Asia South.
What can also help is if companies start separating non-essential data from valuable business information.
The extraneous data makes it even more difficult for companies to organise and stay on top of their growing information pile. This is a key issue for 30% of the businesses that were surveyed.
"Many clients we speak to are struggling to sort through massive amounts of data and keep everything, which is not an efficient use of resources," Tan said.
Digital information makes up 50% of an organisation's total value, according to Symantec.
"In Malaysia the rapid growth of digital information is inevitable, with several national initiatives by the Government, including the Digital Malaysia programme, that aim to advance us towards a developed digital economy by 2020," said Alex Ong, country director of Symantec Malaysia.
"While organisations in the digital economy can leverage on the information they generate everyday to better serve customers and increase productivity, the same information can be a major liability if not properly protected and managed," Ong said.
Tan said the survey showed that while large enterprises, as well as small and medium companies in Malaysia place a high value on their business information, they still struggle to protect that information effectively.
He had several tips for businesses looking to address their information issues, which include focusing on the information, and not devices or the datacentre.
"With bring-your-own-device and cloud-computing trends, information is no longer within the four walls of the company premises so it is important to not get fixated on the physical aspects of how the data is accessed," Tan said.
He said it is also important for companies to be consistent with their policies regarding their business information.
"Consistency is key for information policies because this will enable the organisations to enforce the policies wherever their data is located, be it in physical environments or the cloud," he said.
To future proof itself, a flexible infrastructure to support continued data growth is also crucial for an organisation, he added.
ReRez Research was commissioned by Symantec to conduct the survey in February and March, among companies that had five to more than 5,000 employees.
Business and IT executives at 4,506 organisations in 36 countries were surveyed. In Malaysia, there were 100 responses. To read the full report, go to http://bit.ly/M7UrqB.
According to the survey, information costs businesses worldwide about US$1.1 trillion (RM3 trillion) annually, and the total size of information stored globally today by all businesses is 2.2 zettabytes.
If a single sheet of paper stored just 10 kilobytes of data, the stack of paper sheets holding 2.2 zettabytes would be 374 miles tall, or as tall as 1,287 Empire State buildings.