Why Data Fails
Written by Chris Thornton
Business continuity isn't just about reacting after a disaster. Understanding the reasons why a company loses its valuable data should be an important part of your plan...
When disaster strikes, the loss of data has a greater potential impact on small businesses, which can feel the effects much more acutely than their larger counterparts. Data loss doesn't just cripple day-to-day services, but destroys the confidence of clients and employees in the future of an organisation.
While a business continuity plan is an essential step towards protecting your data from loss, we always emphasise the importance of prevention to clients - that is adopting practices that protect their business from disaster before it happens. Preventing data loss is obviously much more efficient than (and preferable to) dealing with the consequences of it, but adopting that strategy means ensuring every member of your organisation is able to identify the risks.
This kind of 'best practice' approach goes beyond the mundane - it should go without saying that remembering to save, use antivirus software and be careful with drinks around electronics are important habits. Rather, the best way to prevent data loss involves encouraging a pattern of behaviour for employees.
Reasons For Data Loss
So, with that in mind... why is data lost?
- Failure to verify: Data protection at its most basic level involves backing up information. It follows that periodically verifying the back-ups themselves makes sense. Accessing and verifying your backup infrastructure regularly ensures your company can move quickly to repair and recover when a problem occurs.
- Data handling: By necessity, data needs to move around a business and, in a small organisation, that movement may include not just clients but third parties. Ensuring that every relevant person understands the protocols for the handling of data - what needs to be backed-up, and when - ensures that important information is always where it's expected to be.
- Employee training: Loss of data in one way or another is almost inevitable but untrained or unhappy employees can increase the impact of that loss significantly - whether by accident or on purpose. Ensuring employees receive adequate training and follow security protocols addresses a significant threat to your company's data.
- Malicious cyber-threats: Viruses and malware are ever-present threats to businesses - and infections expose data to malicious entities. The only protection against the evolving malware threat is vigilance and, again, ensuring employees receive up-to-date training in how to avoid risks and spot phishing attempts.
- Theft: Small businesses increasingly make use of flexible, mobile technology that exposes personal laptops, tablets and phones to theft. Even if they don't contain sensitive data, stolen devices themselves may be used to access restricted networks. While eliminating the threat of theft is impossible, you can shield your data when it happens through the use of suitable disk-encryption software.
- Redundancy: Disasters, like power failures, can take out important sections of your infrastructure in one fell swoop. Using cloud services to backup data online avoids on-site losses - and emphasises the need to build redundancy into your data protection plan. Conversely, on-site backup of critical documents protects against potential problems with your cloud provider.
No Magic Bullet
It should be clear that there's no magic bullet to prevent data-loss. Understanding why data fails makes finding solutions easier, and has the additional effect of strengthening your company against emerging threats. Identifying areas of risk is only the start of the challenge, however, to effectively combat the causes of data loss you'll have to encourage patterns of behaviour in your employees and build business continuity into day-to-day services - rather than turning to it only after disaster strikes.
Is your company working to prevent disaster, rather than recover from it? Are you aware of the risks to your data? Get in touch if you need help from the Shackleton Team...
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