Nobody disputes the growth of digital information over the last decade enabled by technology developments in storage further put to use in the hands of consumers. We all create content every day; and as the phones get bigger and better processors, cameras, and radios, we can expect this to continue. To put the growth of digital information into perspective, think about how painful it was to download a thirty second HD movie clip five years ago or an entire music album ten years ago. Now we do it on our phones or tablets without thinking about it (until that data-bill comes in!).

Click for Infographic

IDC released a study today (in conjunction with EMC) projecting that the digital universe will be so large that they attached a term meaningless to most people: zettabytes. That’s like watching presidential candidates in the US debate over forty-billion this and ninety-billion that. The average person has no frame of reference to process a number that large, so it starts to sound like the famed teacher in the Charlie Brown holiday specials we all love. IDC does a good job of breaking down the information into something useful like grains of sand or Blu-ray discs.

But according to their study, we are only using a fraction of the available information—only 3% of potentially useful data being tagged, and a fraction of that analyzed. As a security professional part of me says, “Silly animal videos should be tagged and analyzed!” The other part says, “Man, I bet there are some data breaches ready to be had with all that information laying around.”

Turns out, IDC agrees on the second one (although I bet they would also agree on the first). Their study found that the amount of information requiring protection is growing at a faster clip than the overall digital universe, meaning more and more sensitive information is generated, served, and stored digitally. Additionally, only half of the information that needs protection actually has it today, and emerging markets are less protected than mature markets. This, coupled with the projected information security skills gap, paints a pretty grim picture for the good guys. The innovation around digitization is outpacing our ability to protect information, largely because we test concepts for viability before we think about how to secure it in production.

Take a moment and check out this fascinating report!

This post originally appeared on