Protecting Your Data is as Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Most of us have experienced the frustration of losing hours, days, and even months’ worth of work from a data backup process that failed or that you meant to get around to but never actually did. Individual frustration and lost productivity compounds when you are talking about these same things happening at the organizational level. Even worse, small- to mid-sized businesses often lack the financial or technical resources needed to find and restore lost data. 

While humankind will never learn to tame natural disasters, snare every hacker, or create a never-fails hard drive – all of which are common causes of lost data – what we can do, as individuals and organizations, is pretty simple: plan ahead. 

As the saying goes: Know thy enemy. And in the case of data protection, that means understanding your most likely causes of data loss. For most small and mid-size businesses, they fall into three categories: ransomware, user error, and natural disasters.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (malware) that hijacks your data and holds it hostage until you pay a fee to the perpetrators. These fees can be exorbitant, averaging as much as $133,000. As the FBI warns, ransomware attacks can be sophisticated, and may use https domains, system lock icons, and fake third-party verifications to lure victims into visiting fake websites. Many small businesses think they don’t have anything of value for a cybercriminal. Unfortunately, many cybercriminals target small businesses as a way to practice and learn their trade before “graduating” to more lucrative targets. Meanwhile, for the affected small businesses, the damage has been done. They are locked out of their data and may not even have the opportunity to pay a ransom as the hacker has moved on.

Having secure data backups takes the power out of the hands of cybercriminals, and gives it back to small business owners.

User Accident or Error

Whether caused by a user accidentally deleting something important, their hardware giving up the ghost, or simply leaving their laptop in a cab, data loss is no joke. Trying to recreate that nearly-finished slide deck or customer project is both frustrating and gets in the way of new work being completed. While we can’t always protect users from these unfortunate occurrences, data loss protection software that automatically creates a backup of user data can limit the work lost to just minutes.  These solutions not only keep a copy of the data, they are also self-service, meaning employees can recover their own data without requiring IT assistance, creating a win for both the employee and the IT staff.

Automatic, regularly-scheduled backups limits potential rework to 30 minutes or less.

Natural disasters

It’s been a strange couple of years for weather, part of a trend in increasing storms and floods. According to FEMA, around 25% of businesses close their doors after a natural disaster. While desks and chairs can be readily replaced, loss of important data like customer lists and projects, financial information, and critical intellectual property is much harder to recover from. Frequent backups to secure, cloud-based storage in addition to local external drives provides important geographical redundancy that protects your business data from loss due to local natural disasters. Bonus fact: this same geographical redundancy also protects your data from location-based events such as fires, floods, and break-ins.

Cloud-based storage provides important geographical redundancy that protects your data from loss due to local natural disasters.

The threats to small businesses’ data — from cybercriminals and hardware failure to coffee spilled on a laptop — are all around us. The solution is to implement a combination of good habits and the right tools. Here are three simple steps to ensure you are protected against data loss:

1. Start with better habits on the human side

Human causes—forgetfulness and human error to name just two—make employees a potential source of, often unintentional, data loss. To address this, start by implementing people-focused solutions such as:  

  • Organizational data backup policies – Make it a point to ensure you are protecting business-critical data on every endpoint.
  • Employee training on data protection best practices – Keep data protection top of mind, through good password practices, ransomware awareness, and documenting who has access to what data.
  • A disaster recovery plan that accounts for various types of data loss – Geographic redundancy, clear owners for each part of the plan, and tabletop exercises to practice your response are a great place to start.

2. Back up your data. Period.

Data backup requires a multi-tactic approach and each tactic serves an important purpose:

  • Network drive – Usually relies on an organizational policy that requires users to put their data into a network folder as backup. Easy to use but requires access to the network – usually via VPN – and users often forget or just don’t do it. Network drives that are hosted onsite are also subject to the same location-based risks – such as theft, natural disasters, and leaky water pipes – as the endpoints they are protecting.
  • External drive (often attached to the endpoints or servers) – Provides quick and easy access to your data, for example in the event of a hardware failure, but requires monitoring to ensure the drives aren’t running out of storage. External drives are also subject to the same user behavior and location-based risks as the network drive. 
  • Cloud-based backup (keeps a copy of the data in the cloud) – Automated solutions that keep a copy of end-user data in the cloud can protect against cybercrimes, human error, and tech failures and provide critical geographic redundancy. Because restoring data requires downloading files from the cloud, you must have access to the internet in order to access them. Because automatic cloud backups happen continuously in the background, data loss can be limited to as little as the last 30 minutes’ worth of work. ]

Automated backup solutions protect files on users’ endpoints and can limit data loss to the last 30 minutes’ worth of work.

3. Fill the gaps between human errors and tech limitations by implementing a multi-layered data protection strategy.

Implementing a comprehensive data loss protection plan helps plug the gaps between human behavior, technology, and natural disasters through: 

  • User training and education
  • Continuous automatic backups
  • Geographic redundancy
  • Protection of the data in your cloud-sharing app

Protecting data loss comes from a combination of behavior change and the right tools. Through continuous communication with employees, diligence about the importance of data security, and set-it-and-forget-it, cloud backup services, you can put the fear of lost data behind you.

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