By Sergio Ortega Cruz, Worldwide Industry Solution Manager, Public Safety and National Security at Microsoft
Former US Secretary of State Dean Rusk once said that “If you protect your paper clips and diamonds with equal vigor, you’ll soon have more paper clips and few diamonds.”
Though he was talking about national security, this same concept is true when it comes to cybersecurity. I often hear government customers say they are reluctant to move data to the cloud because they’re worried that it could wind up in the wrong hands. Yet the reality is that for most government organizations, only 20 percent of information requires a top-security classification. Of the remaining 80 percent, the vast majority is public, non-classified information. Despite this fact, many governments apply similar restrictions to all their data sets, whether they truly need to be classified or not. In a nutshell, governments are managing their paper clips with the same vigor as their diamonds.
By implementing a data governance program, governments have the opportunity to thoughtfully and methodically categorize all their data sets, classifying information that’s truly sensitive, while making public information more easily accessible to the citizens they serve. Armed with a cohesive data strategy, government IT administrators can more accurately determine what data truly needs to be kept on-premises, and what can be transferred to a more cost-effective public or hybrid cloud environment.
One of the major benefits of data governance is reduced costs. On average, it costs a whopping 10 times as much to manage classified versus unclassified information. From the way that classified data is stored to the special security credentials of the personnel managing it, classified information eats up a lot of resources. Indeed, the US government alone spends more than $11 billion per year to protect classified data—not including the CIA, the National Security Agency, and other spy agencies.
By better classifying and managing their information, governments can also operate with greater transparency. Government information is a public asset, and governments that rapidly disclose information to the public increase trust and accountability. They also encourage greater public engagement and collaboration.