Gartner Research

The Story of Information Sprawl

Published: 05 June 2012

ID: G00229277

Analyst(s): Trent Henry, Ian Glazer


Enterprise data. Everywhere. Gartner's field research examined information's tendency to flow to destinations known, unknown, typical and surprising. This research also explored how information security teams attempted to inhibit this sprawl using an array of technical controls, including identity and access management (IAM) and content-based data loss prevention. However, in many cases, sprawl wasn't something to be prevented — it was a requirement for the business: Deliver the right information to the right people right now. This is the story of how field research participants responded to the challenge.

Table Of Contents

Summary of Findings

Research Findings

  • The What, the How and the Why of Information Sprawl
    • The What of Information Sprawl
    • The How of Information Sprawl
    • The Why of Information Sprawl
  • Information Classification and Sprawl: Tiers or Tears
    • Four Is the Magic Number, Except When It Isn't
    • The Mushy Center
  • Thwarting the Inhibition of Information Sprawl: Control Gaps
    • Controls in Use
    • Control Mismatches and Inconsistencies
    • Measurements
    • Holes in the Controls
  • The Efficacy of Our "Best" Tools
    • IAM Controls: Part of the Journey but Not the Destination
  • Beyond Confidentiality: Broadening Information Security's Horizon
    • Storage Considerations
    • Is There More Than Just Loss?
  • Sprawl Happens
  • For Information Security Teams
    • Mind the Gaps
    • Acknowledge That Our Best Controls Are Insufficient
    • Provide Control Services, Not Fixed Packages
    • Don't Get Too Comfortable in the Safety Net
    • Broaden the Conversation
  • For IT Leadership
    • Don't Allow Information Security to Carry on a Monologue
    • Shared Responsibility Must Be Acknowledged and Facilitated

Methodology and Demographics

Recommended Reading


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