Protecting your business data is just as important as locking down any other asset.image sourcePongsajapan, Rob. "Safe." 02 November 2006. Flickr.

Protecting Your Business Data

June 20, 2012

Have you ever been the victim of a break-in or lost your wallet? It’s a scary experience, no matter the loss.

Fortunately, most of us keep our finances in a bank rather than carry around large wads of cash. If you’re the victim of a robbery, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage: canceling credit cards, changing locks, filing police reports and insurance claim.

But a large number of businesses and their employees don’t do their due diligence to protect an asset that’s rapidly growing in importance: data.

What’s at Stake

Just how valuable is data, and how vulnerable? Here are some stats from a study that McAfee performed last year:

  • people valued their digital property (including office data) at $37,438 on average
  • over a third admitted to having no protection of any kind in place
  • respondents classified 27% of their data as “impossible to restore”

Now have a look at what EVault found when they examined US businesses:

  • companies lost a yearly average of $400 million due to lost data
  • 57% revealed they’d lost data more than once
  • businesses claimed 50% of their data was critical but did not have plans to protect it

There are two major threats to your business data: internal failures and outside attacks. Email, spreadsheets, and other valuable business data properties are just a crash away from gone if they reside on a single machine without an adequate backup system.

But sharing data across multiple devices without a good security plan in place is risky too. Symantec recently ran an experiment involving “lost” phones outfitted with certain pieces of tempting (but fake) data and tracking software. While around half the phones were returned, “About 90 percent of all finders rifled through the phone’s apps and files, including ones that seemed to contain highly sensitive information.”

Where to Start

Dentists are fond of saying that you don’t have to brush all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep. In the same way, your business only needs to protect the data it can’t live without.

First, don’t panic. There are plenty of robust, affordable options in place for small businesses that need to safeguard data. There’s no need to ditch your computers or move back to paper ledgers (which, we’d like to point out, are also vulnerable).

Take an inventory of what kind of data your business depends on. Email and documents are probably high on that list. Also consider data items that haven’t made the digital leap yet: do you have important pictures or other multimedia that are irreplaceable? Make notes of what security measures you currently have in place, if any, and don’t just think about digital safeguards: physical issues like theft, water, and fire are all hazards that deserve attention.

The next step depends on how much you plan to spend on this project. Here are some quick tips and resources to guide your search process:

  • Consider how much downtime you’re willing to suffer during a data recovery event. Could your business shut down for an afternoon while making the transition, or does it need to be up and running as soon as possible?
  • Don’t just think about one backup solution but layers of protection. What would happen if your extra hard drive crashed too? How many backup options make sense for the amount of data your business needs to protect? Don’t forget to ask about how a power outage might affect your backup options and what contingency plans might be needed in the event of multiple failures.
  • We know, cost is important. When examining prices, don’t just look at the initial investment; also consider the time and resources the solution will cost in upkeep and maintenance. Acronis even has storage savings calculators you can use to figure out how much your protection may end up costing you.

Who Should Save

If all of this work sounds daunting, that’s because the decisions made in terms of data protection are of major importance to the continuing health of your business technology.

Remember how we started by saying that most people trust a bank to keep their fiances safe? A lot of businesses are turning to companies with better equipment and knowledge to protect their business data. A data protection partner can ensure that your business invests in a plan that is appropriate for its size and needs, manage multiple backups and contingencies, and scale things to match your business growth.

With the right tools, a managed services provider can not only ensure your business data stays safe but can quickly get things working again in the event of a problem. Cii is one such provider that has a lot of experience in helping our clients make the best decisions for their business; we’d love to help you with any questions or concerns you might have about data protection.

Regardless of what choice your business makes, we encourage you to have a plan in place before an emergency forces you to.