Complex Made Simple

Dark data exceeds 57% in the UAE, creating major security blind spot for most companies

Public cloud and mobile environments are weakest links in data security, most likely to be left unclassified and potentially unprotected

Over half of UAE company data remains unclassified, despite a rise in security breaches Just two percent of companies in the UAE have classified all their data in the public cloud 83 percent of UAE companies have classified less than half of their public cloud data – the highest of all countries surveye

Businesses across the UAE continue to house ‘dark data’ within their organizations, creating a honeypot for cybercriminals, finds research from Veritas Technologies, a worldwide leader in enterprise data protection and software-defined storage. 

The Value of Data study, conducted by Vanson Bourne for Veritas, surveyed 1,500 IT decision makers and data managers across 15 countries, including 100 senior professionals from the UAE. It reveals that on average, over half (57 percent) of all data within organizations remains unclassified or untagged, indicating that businesses have limited or no visibility over vast volumes of potentially business-critical data, creating a ripe target for hackers. 

Classifying data enables organizations to quickly scan and tag data to ensure that sensitive or risky information is properly managed and protected, regardless of where that data lives. This broad visibility into data helps companies comply with ever-increasing and stringent data protection regulations that require discrete retention policies be implemented and enforced across an organization’s entire data estate. 

Public cloud and mobile environments represent the weakest links in data security, with the majority of data across these environments most likely to be left unclassified and potentially unprotected. 

Read more: Are you an Instagram influencer? There's a chance your private data has been exposed

Just two percent of companies in the UAE claim to have classified all their data in the public cloud, while only seven percent have classified all of the data that sits on mobile devices. In addition, an overwhelming majority (83 percent) of UAE companies admit they have classified less than half of their public cloud data – the highest of all countries, followed by China at 81 percent and Singapore at 67 percent, while 61 percent of UAE businesses have classified less than half of the data that sits on mobile devices. 

Areas cited for improvement

Veritas’ previous 2018 UAE Databerg Report revealed that an alarming 50 percent of organizations in the UAE believe that their cloud service providers should share responsibility for managing data in the cloud, although cloud provider contracts usually place data management responsibility on businesses. Just 23 percent of UAE businesses stated that it is their responsibility to manage the data on their cloud.

“As workforces become more mobile and the barriers between work and personal life break down, company data has become dispersed across numerous environments,” said Jyothi Swaroop, vice president, Product & Solutions, Veritas. “When data is fragmented across an organization and has not been properly tagged, it is more likely to go ‘dark’, threatening the company’s reputation and market share if it falls foul of data protection regulations such as GDPR. So it’s vital that organizations take full responsibility for ensuring their data is effectively managed and protected.”

The dark age of data

Organizations consider strengthening data security (65 percent), improving data visibility and control (42 percent) and ensuring effective back up and recovery of data (48 percent) among their top key drivers for day-to-day data management. Yet the majority of respondents admit that their organization still needs to make improvements in all of these areas.  

“A company’s dark data reservoir may be out of sight and out of mind for many organizations, but it’s an enticing target for cybercriminals and ransomware attacks. The more organizations know about the data they hold, the better they will be at judging its value or risk,” added Swaroop. “But with the average company holding billions of data files, manually classifying and tagging data is beyond human capability. Businesses must implement data management tools with algorithms, machine learning, policies and processes that can help manage, protect and gain valuable insights from their data, regardless of where it sits in their organization.” 

Benefits of more effective data management

Johnny Karam, Regional Vice President, Emerging Region, Veritas Technologies, added: “The time has come for data management to be accorded the importance it warrants at boardroom level. While we have seen an encouraging decrease in the levels of redundant, obsolete and trivial data in the UAE in recent years, a startling 83 percent of companies indicate that they have classified less than half of their public cloud data. It not only makes business sense to prioritise an intelligent data management and IT infrastructure, but this will also help businesses achieve greater operational efficiency in the long-term. This is where Veritas can help, by extracting the complexity from the process, identifying dark data, removing risks and delivering true value for organizations.” 

Read more: Infographic: 61% of IT professionals have experienced a serious data breach

Read more about the key findings of this study in a VOX blog here. To learn more about how Veritas can help global organizations protect their data and bottom line, download the full report here. For more information on implementing a centralized data management strategy, visit