Stats suggest 70% of businesses that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year.
We spoke to Leeds-based Dynamic Networks Group for advice on how companies can protect themselves and their data from attack and loss.
Don’t become a statistic.
You’ll have your own answer to the question ‘how long could my business survive without critical data?’. Whatever your answer may be, the truth is that a significant data breach or loss would have a severely adverse – if not catastrophic – impact on productivity, reputation and bottom line for most businesses.
The causes of data loss vary. The rapid growth in cyber-crime in its various guises is no doubt a key contributor. A recent study shows that over the last two years the number of ‘ransomware’ attacks on businesses has doubled to more than 650,000. A third of victims reporting lost revenue as a result.
Add to this current estimates, which say that over half of data backups fail. The reasons range from human error to hardware failure, software failure, network failure or misconfiguration, with a quarter of companies reportedly experiencing accidental system failures, data corruption or loss. And yet, figures show that only a fifth of companies have a disaster recovery plan in place, and only 8% of those have actually tested it to make sure it works.
Three risk-reducing steps
Taking a proactive stance to protect your business from the risk of data loss involves three key steps.
Putting the right security systems and measures in place to reduce the risk of cyber-attack is critical. Keeping those systems up to date is equally important, and one that requires the right action at the right time from your IT company, as well as action (and education) for you and for your staff.
But both of these steps can be fatally undermined by ineffective data backups. In the event of a security breach, and without a backup to work with, the fact is that data recovery cannot be guaranteed.
How reliable is your data backup?
You might think your company data is being backed up every day, but do you ever check? Or do you assume that, because you employ an IT company, everything is taken care of? We’re hearing more and more worrying stories from companies who think they have secure backups in place, but have found – often to their cost – that this isn’t the case. In some cases, their data isn’t being backed up at all.
The good news is that it’s very easy to find out when your data was last backed up. Your IT company can quickly and easily check whether backups are performing as they should. They can also identify and rectify any failures, and – in many cases – put things right before they become an issue. If they’re not doing these things, and reporting the findings back to you on a regular basis, then it may be time to look for a new IT provider.
Your IT and data security checklist
When it comes to IT security, a good provider will:
- Make sure your data is fully, frequently and securely backed up – this includes running daily checks to make sure backups are completing successfully (at 15-minute intervals if needs be); providing you with regular reports confirming that your data is safely and securely backed up; providing secure, off-site data storage facilities; performing regular integrity tests to make sure your system is reliable and running smoothly; and helping you design, implement and test a comprehensive IT disaster recovery plan, to make sure you can get vital systems back online quickly in the event of an unforeseen incident.
- Run a thorough system audit – known as ‘network penetration testing’, this comprehensive audit will give you a complete picture of your network’s security levels and highlight any vulnerabilities.
- Help you put the right protection in place – having the right antivirus and antimalware in place is crucial, and a good IT provider will regularly and proactively review your antivirus provision to make sure it continues to give you the protection you need.
- Regularly test your network – to make sure it remains secure in a world of ever-changing online threats. Test frequency will depend on the nature of your business, and a proactive IT firm will advise on the recommended frequency for your company or industry.
- Keep your systems up to date – running regular system checks, reporting back to you on network performance and advising you when updates and upgrades are required.
- Educate your team – your IT partner should also help you educate staff so that they can take responsibility for implementing software updates, and understand what to download – and what not to. This includes making sure your team is aware of the risks; that they treat unsolicited emails with caution, as well as making sure free software is evaluated to make sure it is safe before downloading it.
Data recovery can cost several thousands of pounds, but the real issue for many businesses is the loss of time and productivity while vital systems are restored. Why take the risk with irreplaceable business data?