By Ben Potaracke, Vice President of IT, Locknet Managed IT []

In the whirlwind of digital transformation, where companies rush to embrace the latest technologies, legacy data often gets left in the dust. Yet, neglecting this forgotten data can spell financial and reputational peril. Let’s delve into what legacy data entails and explore strategies to manage it effectively.

Understanding Legacy Data

Legacy data resides in outdated systems and technologies. Think of it as the digital attic where once-important information now gathers dust. From customer records to financial data, these archives may still hold value but pose risks if mishandled. Indeed, the over-retention of such data has led to regulatory fines for many companies.

Finding Value in Legacy Data

Despite the risks, some legacy data harbors insights crucial for informed decision-making and regulatory compliance. Historical data can unveil patterns guiding product development, marketing strategies, and operational enhancements. Industries who require legacy data retention must also have a robust data management policy.

The Risks Involved

Legacy data isn’t just a relic – it’s a security liability. Outdated security measures expose sensitive information to cyber threats, compounded by aging systems susceptible to breaches. Weak access controls in these older systems further exacerbate these vulnerabilities, inviting unauthorized access and data tampering.

In addition to security risk mitigation, holding on to legacy data can create an unnecessary expense. There are many hidden costs associated with maintaining outdated systems and technologies, including system maintenance, data migration, and compliance-related expenses.

Addressing Legacy Data Challenges

To mitigate these risks, organizations must adopt proactive measures:

  • Data Audit: Identify and assess legacy data, noting associated risks to inform a data hygiene program.
  • Data Governance Lifecycle: Implement ownership and retention protocols to prevent data obsolescence.
  • Application Decommissioning: Standardize processes for retiring outdated systems while preserving necessary data.
  • Merger and Acquisition Due Diligence: Incorporate data privacy assessments to mitigate inherited legacy data risks.
  • Data Backup Policies: Ensure backups serve their intended purpose and aren’t used as data repositories beyond their retention period.

Your First Steps

We recommend the following to kickstart your legacy data management journey:

  • Conduct a network scan to locate forgotten data.
  • Dispose of unnecessary data securely or archive it with proper safeguards.
  • Implement a comprehensive data management policy to guide future practices.

Seek Expert Guidance

Should you encounter hurdles along the way, reach out for expert advice from a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) who can tailor their guidance based on your unique legacy data challenges.

In conclusion, legacy data may be old, but its risks are very current. By addressing these challenges head-on, businesses can safeguard their assets and pave the way for a more secure digital future.