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Digital Hoarding

The hoarding of digital information can have significant impact on cybersecurity, GDPR compliance and organisational profitability.

In 2017, The Economist reported that "The world's most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data," yet many people do not realise they are creating organisational issues due to digital hoarding, which often occurs inadvertently. This can lead to risks including:


  • Not deleting files and emails, or storing them insecurely is a risk.
  • Hoarded files could be mined for social engineering attacks or used by disgruntled employees with access to a repository of confidential material.
  • Hacking could lead to a loss of IP and considerable reputational damage.

GDPR compliance:

  • Organisations may not be aware of how their staff are inadvertently or deliberately accumulating emails and other files that may contain personal data, for example, CV attachments.
  • Failure to comply with protection of personal data could result in fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover, or €20 million – whichever is the greater sum.

Economic costs:

  • As digital hoarding rises, businesses find it more difficult to extract information from the data they have stored.
  • Economic expenditure may be greater than necessary as hoarding can cause increased costs, with cloud storage involving data being stored in multiple locations and servers consuming large amounts of energy.

Thanks to our expertise in hoarding behaviours, Northumbria University has established a Digital Hoarding Clinic, from where we can assist organisations to reduce their digital footprint and improve their profitability. We can:

  1. Measure the extent of digital hoarding within your workforce
  2. Interview selected individuals who score highly on the digital hoarding scale
  3. Advise on the creation of digital policies and toolkits to reduce digital clutter and ensure GDPR compliance and cyber-safety.

Contact Dr Nick Neave for more information.


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