SECURITY

Don't forget the data!

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According to the 2014 Metrofile information and records management trends index, of which 91% of respondents were Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), 14% of businesses lost crucial company data within the past few months. These statistics highlight the importance of data protection and backup for all local businesses. 

This is according to Guy Kimble, Managing Director of Metrofile Records Management – a group company of JSE-listed Metrofile Holdings Limited, who says failing to backup essential company data can lead to the loss of vital business information, fundamental to the success of the businesses. “Protection of company data should be a top priority for local business leaders, particularly SMEs as they are not immune to data loss.”

SME business owners in South Africa generally think that only large corporate organisations need to have data protection measures in place and lack an understanding of the importance of data backup, says Kimble.

He points out that 21% of the responding companies indicated they do not have an off-site backup solution. “It is very dangerous for a company to store all its information on site because if the site is exposed to a disaster - such as a theft, flood, fire, strike, cybercrime attack, power surge, lightning strike or any other type of interruption – the company faces the risk of losing all of their information. It is safer to store the backup data at an off-site location in an encrypted format, preferably with a trusted data protection supplier.”

Kimble adds that SME business owners need to undergo a crucial mind shift to begin viewing data as a critical company asset, just as they would any other asset.

A sound business continuity management plan is vital to enable a business to avoid disasters and to ensure that enterprises continue functioning at a sustainable level following a major disruption to critical operations, says Kimble.  “An essential element of a business continuity management plan is data loss protection. One measure to ensure data loss protection is through the regular and multiple backups of company data.”

Kimble says that when backing up important company data, SMEs need to bear the following aspects in mind:

  • Offsite back-up storage - When companies backup their data they tend to make the mistake of keeping the storage device onsite. By doing this, businesses place themselves at risk of losing all of its crucial company information in the event of a natural disaster or burglary. When selecting a records management supplier, it is imperative to ensure that the data backed up is encrypted and stored securely at an offsite location.
  • Rotational collection – SMEs often overlook the importance of having three separate copies of their information and by three copies it means, the original data and two backups. Simply relying on having one copy backed up and kept on a storage device onsite is just not good enough. To avoid risk of data losses, companies need to ensure that when selecting a data management partner, the contracted service includes a daily, weekly or monthly scheduled rotation that suits the specific needs and ensure that one copy of the current company data remains secure at an environmentally controlled offsite vault.
  • Rugged storage devices – Optical storage devices such as DVDs and fragile devices such as flash drives are easily susceptible to damage and can ultimately result in the loss of critical company data. It is with this in mind that SMEs need to make sure that the storage devices selected to store their companies vital information is protected from knocks, tampering and dust by being placed in robust drop resistant lockable containers.
  • Data encryption and compression abilities – The security and integrity of critical business data during transfer and in storage is an important factor to bear in mind to avoid any unintentional changes to information and the risk of any data losses. Therefore, businesses should make sure that the software used to create the backup copies allows for data verification and encryption thus ensuring data integrity by restricting access to data and maintaining rigorous authentication practices. In addition, the inclusion of compression technology, which reduces the size of the backup file by storing a single version of data files and then only the changes made to the files, can speed up the backup process and reduce storage by up to half.

Despite computer hardware prices becoming more cost effective, initial costs to establish a practical back up system may seem financially daunting to SMEs. “SME owners should not allow costs to deter them from implementing a data protection solution as it is often cheaper than one thinks. In addition to mitigating the risk of data losses, by implementing a proper data protection plan, SMEs can also avoid the possible reduction in employee productivity, loss of revenue and loss in customer confidence which far outweigh the seemingly frightening initial investment cost,” concludes Kimble.

Nicola Naidoo

 

 

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