First Advisory Group
8 November 2022 - Guest articles

Talos: The way out of the data jungle

Every day, company employees create a veritable flood of files. But as a rule, creating is not the end of the story. They are also filed and thus stored. File management is often done by instinct or within structures that have developed over the years and are no longer up to date. The result is a data jungle in which hardly anyone can really find their way around and from which there seems to be no pragmatic way out. But appearances are deceptive. Talos Filesystem Monitoring" provides companies with a pragmatic instrument for efficient data cleansing and secure storage in compliance with data protection regulations.

The scenario is probably familiar to anyone who does their work in an office. Whether at clerical or management level, in a business environment we are constantly creating and collecting letters, presentations, Excel files, project documents, meeting notes, business reports and so on. We often store these on shared drives and structure them in folders - team folders, department folders, project folders and personal folders. This allows for shared access and editing. This approach has become established over the years, we have become used to it, or at least resigned to it, and like Stone Age hunter-gatherers, we accumulate more and more files. Even if they are no longer up to date, we keep them, because someone might find them useful again sometime. For some important documents, of course, this is true. But, hand on heart, not for most. They are never retrieved. At least not for the intended purposes.
Nevertheless, tidying up - quite in contrast to collecting - has never really become established, although the continuous cleaning up of folders and files would be of great importance and usefulness. Because ...

  • ... Data cleansing is an essential step towards compliance with data protection regulations. Two important principles of the GDPR are data minimisation and data retention. Data that is no longer required for the fulfilment of a purpose and/or whose processing is no longer based on any legitimacy (in particular laws, contracts, consent) must be deleted as a matter of principle.
  • ... files often contain sensitive information that needs to be protected. This can be customer names, business figures or strategic plans. This list could be continued almost indefinitely. Even if all employees take great pains to authorise the folders accordingly and only grant access to the "right" colleagues, over time they almost inevitably lose track of the information. After all, hardly anyone checks every time there is a change in a staff or team status to see if all the old documents still have the right permissions. Suddenly, someone has access to a file that reveals confidential information. Even if it is a bit older.  
  • ... the large number of files makes it difficult to find the right information. Even with a full-text search of all files, the number of hits can be very high and confusing due to the many file versions and duplicates. Valuable time is lost in this way.
  • ... due to the continuous proliferation of files, the individual user hardly knows which ones are up-to-date and relevant. Questions arise such as: "Which is the latest version of the project plan? "Or: "Which is the currently valid manual or process description? "The series of examples could be continued at will and adapted to every type of company. 
  • ... although storage space is no longer expensive, over time so many files accumulate that the sheer quantity can become a problem. Moreover, the space for data backup also accumulates to the same extent as the files stored.

Despite all the necessity of cleaning up old files, which most employees are even aware of, it hardly ever takes place. Because ...

  • ... no one feels responsible. It is not clearly defined who has to clean up which folder and when. 
  •  ... even if someone wants to tidy up, he or she often does not know where to start. There is no overview of which folders are unnecessarily taking up storage space or which contain obsolete or no longer needed files. Hardly any supervisor will ask his or her employees to search for "problem candidates" in hundreds or thousands of folders on their own. In all likelihood, this would generate little benefit with a large expenditure of time.

The way out of the data jungle and the way from hunting and collecting to professional file management is shown by the new product "Talos Filesystem Monitoring " by CSL. It enables the assignment of responsibilities and optionally an expiry date for all types of folders. The relevant ones among them are continuously and fully automatically checked for compliance with certain limits such as size or file age. The statistical data is kept automatically and makes it possible to observe the development of a folder. If a limit is exceeded or the expiry date is reached, the person responsible is automatically informed by e-mail. He or she can then find out the details in the system and efficiently start cleaning up the files and data.

Furthermore, the system's "self-service" function allows users to independently create folders for specific purposes (e.g. a meeting or a project) and give other people secure access to them. This is all done without the intervention of the IT department or the assignment of special administrator permissions to the users. When the due date expires, the responsible users are informed by email and can promptly clean up the folder - and thus also the files it contains.

Markus A. Foser
Senior Software Architect
CSL Corporate Services Est.


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