Try this: go to your favorite search engine, and type in “high risk share.” Chances are, you’ll get the same thing I did: pages and pages of financial information dealing with risky shares as they pertain to stocks. The definition and even identification of a high risk stock is fairly straightforward (at least in theory). In the IT space, though, high risk shares are much broader in term, and can be difficult to identify (which, in turn, makes them difficult to govern). Unlike a stock market, which appears in a uniform way to all investors in that market, high risk data repositories vary across organizations based on individual access settings, permission needs, departmental requirements, and more.
One way to look at it is in terms of access. If a file or share is accessible by a very large number of users (through well-known security principles like “Everyone,” for instance) the chances increase that it would be considered at “high risk.” At the same time, organizations often purposely leave folders at the top level open because they’re commonly used across the board. So where’s the risk then, exactly?
Risk comes into play when open permissions at the top level filter down through effective rights to permissions several levels below. Because effective rights are difficult to identify they can leave sensitive data open to many more people than need or should have access to it.