Zombie_data

Zombie data: rising from the dead

It’s Halloween, meaning that zombies, witches and ghosts will likely be running amok in your city today. Whilst moaning and shambling zombies out for brains might not scare you anymore, there’s still one type of zombie to be afraid of this Halloween: zombie data.

Zombie data is data that you consider dead in your company, but that still lurks around somewhere, waiting to be called to life again. If you own a computer, you probably have a few zombies inhabiting it right now, because deleting a file doesn’t immediately remove the file from a system (popsci.com). The data can remain in the system for a while, even after you clear your bin. Clever Frankensteins can use programs to raise it again. Similarly, businesses may have data zombies lurking in their system or online. Whether caused by data silos that retain data that should have been deleted, data that has been passed to third parties, data traces left on hardware, or data stored in the cloud (which may be particularly good at producing zombie data), data that has not been fully deleted, can come back to haunt your company when it (accidentally, or with malicious purposes) gets raised from the dead.

With the General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect in May 2018, ensuring the data you collect can be killed forever, is important. The GDPR includes the right to be forgotten, meaning you need to be able to effectively delete personal data from your subjects (and all copies of that data) and ensure it stays dead. If data is not truly deleted when it should be, companies are in danger of being fined for non-compliance. Even worse: if clever hacker manages to bring the dead data back to life, what follows might be a proper zombie data-apocalypse.

Knowing where your data is stored, who it is sent to (inside and outside your company), how third parties manage data, where copies and backups are stored and what happens when data is deleted, is crucial for ensuring data you delete is truly dead and gone, forever. At datastreams.io we are happy to play our part in preventing the zombies from taking over your system and ensuring that the only zombies you will have to deal with this year, are the ones trick-or-treating down your street. Happy Halloween!