What Would The Cost Of Data Loss Be To Your Business?
Companies have a responsibility to keep their customer, employee and business data secure from physical or online damage as well as being regularly backed-up.
This week I suffered another hard drive failure. Fortunately it was on a laptop that was used almost entirely for work and play on the web – apart from the odd photo or download, there was little of personal value or importance on the laptop. But, this did make me think about backing up data. I chatted with Stuart Macleod, the director of Networking 2000 in Romford, about backup solutions for homes and businesses; here are my findings.
Businesses Are Responsible For Their Own Data
Businesses have a responsibility to themselves, their staff and most importantly their customers to keep company data secure. All too often we hear stories in the press of data loss, theft or even high-profile leaks. A company can experience serious financial and reputational consequences if its data falls into the wrong hands. However, many industries are also governed by strict regulations which means that companies who suffer a data breach can also find themselves facing criminal charges.
So, what steps can you take to ensure that your business data is both secure and backed up?
Locate Your Data
The first step in creating a secure data plan is to locate all the areas where you hold business data within your organisation. As well as central servers, you must think about third party areas such as the cloud, website hosting servers, social networking platforms and external devices such as memory sticks, tablets, laptops and company mobile phones.
Analyse Your Data
Write down a plan of what this business data represents to you, in terms of whether it consists of customer, employee or financial records for instance. You should then assess who has access to specific chunks of data and how frequently it is required. For example, employee records might only be logged into once or twice a month by the HR department, whereas a customer database is probably updated daily. Analysis of your data will enable you to identify where the risks are.
You will need to protect your data from the possibility of an employee innocently or maliciously being able to delete or incorrectly modify data in your systems. Ensure that there is always a simple roll-back or undo option within the software you are working on. Regular daily backups are essential.
External devices such as laptops or memory sticks that serve as the only copy of a particular selection of data also represent a huge risk. If the device is damaged or lost, then the data is irretrievable. Ensure that critical files are regularly copied onto your network where they can be backed up as part of your regular routine.
However, physical damage can also take place in natural disasters such as fires or flooding. If your IT server room suffers significant damage, then it is essential that you have an offsite or cloud-based recovery plan to get your systems back online, running on fresh servers if necessary. Server mirroring is another great option to ensure that there is no single point of failure for your data storage.
If you hold data online, then you are at risk of an attack by malicious cybercriminals who will attempt to delete, expose or copy your data either for fun or for financial gain. Always make sure that your business is using current security software to safeguard it from a cyber attack. Internal and external firewalls should also be put in place.
Best Practices For Users
IT departments must work with all senior management to ensure that employees clearly understand what is expected of them in terms of data security. Users should follow clearly defined methods for data transfer such as encryption procedures and respect the importance of secure logins by not telling colleagues their passwords.
Stuart emphasised that it can often be more cost-effective and efficient to have a managed IT provider to deliver back-up and disaster recovery solutions for your company. This will give you peace of mind that your company data is protected in the event of a serious breach in security.
A final point: The only thing we can be sure of is that hard drives will fail, systems will be compromised and data will be lost. The question is, are you ready?
Photo by Sarah, CC Licence.