The Challenge of Dark Data

Experts with Impact in Information Governance


January 25, 2018

Challenge of Dark Data

When our financial services client needed to gain better insight and control of millions of dark data records, FTI Consulting was able to help. Working together with our client’s staff, our team of Information Governance (IG) experts engaged crucial stakeholders and utilised key IG technologies to perform data remediation for 4.5 petabytes (PB, equal to 4.5 million gigabytes) of data efficiently and effectively.

Enterprises today often accumulate data over long periods of time which may lose relevancy or become obsolete. Dark data may contain critical or sensitive data which can exist in forms such as documents, video, and other unstructured sources that are difficult to utilise or manage.

Dark data can pose significant risks if it is not handled properly. It can result in litigation or regulatory sanctions, exposure of private or sensitive data in the event of a data breach, or operational interruption of critical business data. The rate in which such data is being created means the challenge of managing and protecting it is not only growing, but becoming increasingly difficult.

Our client, with more than 50,000 employees across the globe, and like many of its peers, faced significant legal, operational and security risks. Following an internal audit, the firm found that there was a significant volume of data on its systems, specifically fileshare content, which was being stored with inappropriate controls.

The company engaged FTI Consulting to analyse and remediate over 4.5 petabytes of its unstructured data.

Our IG team interviewed over 250 staff across the company’s compliance, legal, IT and information security teams. Collaborating with the firm’s staff and utilising StoredIQ®, our IG experts classified questionable content to determine its importance and the way in which it was stored. We used Nuix Discover to simplify the manual review of suspect data to ensure that it was compliant with the client’s internal policies and regulatory requirements.

Examples of what we found included:

  • Unsecured sensitive data
  • Personally identifiable information in unsecured locations
  • Improperly stored communications
  • Critical production application data without backup
  • Regulated data from an acquired entity at risk of data loss
  • Hundreds of terabytes of old obsolete data increasing risk and cost


At the end of the engagement, FTI Consulting processed 4.5PB of information, classified over 200,000 documents and remediated over 1PB of dark data to help the firm reduce its regulatory and operational risk exposure.

Each file was tagged with a recommended action, of either Migrate (to properly managed storage), Decommission, or Leave in place. It was also given a priority based on the exposure to risk.

In addition, our team worked closely with the firm’s IT and compliance teams to refine its policies and procedures to ensure that the data would be managed more effectively in the future.

For further information on how FTI Consulting can assist you in information governance, please visit

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