Concentric Report Shows 450% Increase in Oversharing of Sensitive Documents

Concentric Inc., a vendor of  AI-based solutions for protecting business-critical data, has released its Q1 2021 Data Risk Report, which highlights a continued rise in oversharing of business-critical and sensitive documents. The report revealed the number of overshared files rose 450 percent compared to the same quarter in 2020, highlighting the significant impact of the pandemic and remote work on data security.

Using its Semantic Intelligence solution, Concentric captured user data in production deployments from companies in the technology, financial, and healthcare sectors to reveal how organizations create, use, and manage data.

The company scanned more than 110 million unstructured data files to discover business-critical and sensitive documents that were overshared via link sharing, inappropriate external sharing, internal permission misconfigurations, and incomplete/incorrect document classifications. Oversharing increases the risk an organization will lose data, violate compliance or privacy mandates, or experience cybercrime.

Statistics highlighted in this latest Data Risk Report reveal that organizations average 439,000 files at-risk due to oversharing. That translates to 210 at-risk files per employee (up significantly from 38 files per employee in Q1 2020, a 452 percent increase). Link-based risky sharing is up to 65,000 documents per enterprise, up from 56,000 in Q4 2020 (the company started tracking link sharing risks in Q3 2020).

Concentric identified and quantified risk in both structured and unstructured data using deep learning. Its solution autonomously provides an accurate and detailed semantic understanding of the millions of contracts, financial documents, payroll, merger and aquisition plans, product roadmaps, and source code files used by organizations every day. Similar to previous Data Risk Reports, this one analyzed production data and reflects actual user practices and real-world data risk exposures.

Additional statistics in the Q1 2021 report include:

  • Nearly 35 percent of unstructured data is business-critical -- that’s 3.1 million files in an average organization. Of those business-critical files, 14 percent can be seen by internal or external users who should not have access.
  • The assessment found 229,000 business-critical files were erroneously classified and inappropriately accessible by other employees. To illustrate, nearly 23 percent of all unstructured data contained personally identifiable information (PII) and were not marked appropriately.
  • More than 33 percent of files processed were duplicates (15 percent) or near-duplicates (20 percent). Maintaining multiple variant copies of sensitive information (often with insecure file permissions, prohibited locations, or improper file classifications) can create legal and regulatory risks, as well as significant unnecessary storage costs.
  • Eighty-five percent of at-risk files were overshared with users or groups within the company, while 15 percent of business-critical files were overshared with external third parties.

“More than 80 percent of an organization’s data is unstructured, meaning it’s embedded in the millions of financial reports, corporate strategy documents, source code files, and contracts created every year,” said Karthik Krishnan, Concentric CEO. “As our quarterly Data Risk Reports continue to show, unstructured data is still largely unseen, unexplored and insecure, and too often overshared inside and outside organizations.”

Concentric’s Risk Distance analysis evaluates business criticality based on contextualized content, file ownership, document meta-data, presence of PII, and peer file comparisons. Business criticality is vital to security assessment and understanding which files must not be overshared. Product files accounted for the leading share of business-critical documents (44 percent) analyzed for this report, followed by financial files (27 percent), legal files (13 percent), and partner documents (10 percent).

To compile the report, Concentric leveraged its Semantic Intelligence solution to autonomously categorize and assess documents created and managed by end users. The result is the industry’s most complete, detailed and accurate view into how risks associated with oversharing are changing over time. The full report is available from Concentric free of charge (registration required) at