60% of companies that lose their data shut down within 6 months and 80% are out of business after 18 months. That’s a scary statistic. Here are 7 tips to prevent this from happening to your business!
1. Back up your data regularly
The importance of backing up information has always been underestimated. Your data – the culmination of all your work and the details of all your clients – is one of your most valuable assets.
2. BUT… don’t use tape backup
Tapes won’t survive fires or floods, and even if they do, tape based data backup is notoriously unreliable and could take 4-5 days to restore in the event of a disaster. Even 4-5 days of downtime could have a crippling effect on your business. You’ll be unable to generate revenue, whilst wages and all of your overhead costs will still have to be paid. The damage to your reputation alone could be fatal to your business. Moreover, a significant portion of data theft is associated with lost or stolen data backup tapes. The tapes are often sitting near the server or backup unit, making them an easy target for thieves. Some companies utilise off-site storage of tapes (and even allow employees to take the tapes home). This time off-site and during transit is when data is at very high risk of loss or theft.
3. Restrict the use of portable devices such as flash drives and external hard drives
Even connecting a device via USB could pose a serious security risk. Make sure your staff are aware of the dangers and have guidelines in place outlining what is/isn’t acceptable. Allowing a colleague or even stranger to connect a USB device to your desktop could be the reason your PC gets infected with dangerous viruses or malware, or could compromise your most closely guarded online passwords – such as your internet banking credentials.
4. Use robust email security/anti-virus
Email threats come from many angles, and the importance of secure email is often disregarded by many businesses. Threats such as hacking, virus spam, phishing and identity theft are unfortunately on the rise – so don’t ignore them. These threats aren’t always obvious; people are coming up with more and more ingenious ways to disguise their intentions, and you are unlikely to realise these until it’s too late. By using robust email security/anti-virus you can prevent malicious emails getting through. One such example is the Cryptolocker virus, which circulates via links and attachments contained within emails, and can lead to complete data loss.
5. Encrypt business data
Remember data on backup tapes is not always encrypted. This means that the data on lost or stolen tapes could easily be accessed by whoever had obtained it. Invest in a backup and disaster recovery system that backs up your data to a remote locations, and automatically encrypts and password protects all backups.
6. Have multiple automated backups – with at least one in an off-site location
You should store your data locally and in two secure offsite data centres. With three backups you can be sure your data is safe even in a disaster. Secure offsite data storage is replacing the traditional idea of keeping your data on your own hard-drives. Ideally, your business should be able to run off the remote backup data whilst it is being restored, and you should be back up and running with your data restored in under 4 hours.
7. Address mobile data security
Data security for mobile devices is a minefield, but there are steps you can take to enhance the security of your smartphones, tablets, and laptops. If you're using Android or iOS devices you can take advantage of built-in hardware encryption - effectively making the data on your device unreadable - unless it's properly unlocked with your password. Devices can also be wiped if they become lost, using remote device management software.