How to Build and Maintain a Cloud Data Inventory

Data Discovery

The more data an organization collects and stores in the cloud the greater their need to utilize better data management tools like a cloud data inventory. A cloud data inventory maintains an inventory of all your managed data assets—something most of today’s organizations desperately need to ensure that their data assets don’t become liabilities.

Why Is Cloud Data Inventory Important?

Data inventories of sensitive and critical data are important for privacy and security. They provide a searchable asset inventory of sensitive or critical data that can be used for privacy reporting and security risk remediation. A cloud-based inventory system can help scale your business. An efficient data inventory can provide more flexibility to your organization to grow alongside the needs of your organization.

Using SmallID’s patented data mapping architecture, it becomes possible to rapidly build a PII or sensitive data inventory that can span any cloud resources across AWS, Azure, GCP, Kafka, SaaS, Box, Slack, Jira, OneDrive, Gmail, and more.

This is an industry-first technology in cloud data management. Having a cloud data inventory also allows you to quickly identify what data resides in which data resources and in which cloud.

Implementing this tool can provide your security team with valuable insight and allow them to quickly take action to remediate high risk or sensitive data.

Cloud Data Inventory Management Best Practices

Building and maintaining data inventories is not a trivial task since they have security considerations that require you to avoid copying your data. They also require a stateful way to view and tabulate data. SmallID allows you to build and maintain a decentralized sensitive data inventory without copying or moving data.

The SmallID cloud architecture is a first-of-its-kind, multi-tenanted platform that avoids copying or moving data. SmallID only maintains tokenized pointers to data and encrypted metadata for search, but actual personal and sensitive data are kept in the customer’s data stores for security and performance reasons.

Traditional inventories may not cover all types of data across the cloud. SmallID’s data coverage provides organizations the ability to inventory all of their data, whether structured or unstructured — all within one simple solution. Knowing your data, wherever it resides is the first step to creating and managing a cloud data inventory.

Keeping a Data Inventory Current

However, building a PII or sensitive data inventory is never enough. Organizations need an objective, current view of their data posture at all times. This requires maintaining a continuous data inventory. Doing so through repeated scans can be very expensive in the cloud since it wastes compute resources on rescanning data that may not have changed.

That’s why SmallID is leveraging BigID’s unique differential scan capabilities that can detect a change in any cloud-like Snowflake or file systems and preferentially scan only that data. In this way, changes in tables, schemas, or documents are automatically detected and scanned without wasting cloud computation on unchanged data.

Data Inventory & Privacy Regulations

According to the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), one of the core steps to achieving compliance is maintaining a proper data inventory.

In privacy, a PII inventory is the foundational building block for various kinds of data reporting like PIAs and RoPAs (GDPR Article 30). It can also be used for identifying individual data for data rights reporting. Additionally, it forms the foundation for data minimization strategies — a core tenant of privacy by design.

Implementing a PII inventory can help your organization comply with regulations like GDPR with fewer headaches. Additional regulations like the Data Subject Access Request (DSAR) or Right to Erasure Request demand that organizations know exactly what user data they hold and what they use it for—a near impossible task without automated scanning and cloud data discovery tools like SmallID.

What Should A Cloud-Native Data Inventory Include?

In security, a sensitive or critical data inventory is the building block for diverse remediation and minimization strategies. Knowing what data is where and in what quantities gives a security practitioner the information to prioritize remediation actions (native inside SmallID) and introduce other strategies around retention or minimization (both automated inside BigID).

A proper cloud-native data inventory tool should centralize all of your data in one platform and include:

Try SmallID for free today and start building and maintaining your cloud data inventory with ease.