According to the University of Texas, 94% of companies suffering from catastrophic data loss do not survive. Of those, 43% never reopen, and 51% close within 2 years. Clearly, the lifeblood of an organization must be protected at all costs.
In many ways, IT protection is like a game of poker. There are two things you need to win: a strong ability to play and the best hand you can get. With the former, a lot of it comes down to knowing what NOT to do.
As we all know, there are a number of ways data can be lost or compromised: hardware failure, human error, software corruption, natural disasters, theft, malware and hardware destruction, to name but a few.
Most of these can be prevented simply by avoiding shortcuts like the ones outlined here that can put your data - and even your job - at risk:
- Ignoring Hardware Failure.Hardware failure is the leading cause of data loss. All too often, it is only after the fact that an IT professional realizes a piece of hardware has failed and company data has been lost. Many companies also ignore the fact that certain backup mediums have high failure rates, such as tape or a SAN or NAS storage device being used as both the source and target of a backup. These high failure rates greatly increase your chances of not being able to recover your data when you need to. To reduce the risk of hardware failure, move your data from your primary storage to a separate, secondary storage platform. Disk-to-Disk (D2D) backup is the approach that works best while still ensuring a physically separate, secondary storage set.
- Trusting Coworkers to Follow Policies - Human error is the second leading cause of data loss. As again, we all know, employees do not always follow company policies, and even when they do, mistakes still happen. Accidental deletion of files, system reboots without proper shutdown and disregard for company procedures are just a few of the ways employees can cause data loss. The best defenses against human error are automation and retention. Automation enables policies and procedures to be automatically created and enforced, while retention allows recovery of data regardless of whether the data loss is noticed right away or weeks later. Also, with human error and other logical failures, it’s important to leverage a superset of D2D, called Disk-to-Disk-to-Any (or D2D2x). D2D2x allows you to back up data onto an on-premise rotational archiving platform (preferably a disk) or to a private or public cloud.
- Disregarding Software Corruption. Anyone who has experienced the “blue screen of death” understands the consequences of software corruption. Unfortunately, it can remain undetected for days, weeks, months or even years. Like human error, software corruption is a logical failure. Thus, strict adherence to policy and retention are the two most critical first-line defenses against this, the third leading cause of data loss.
- Underestimating Cybercriminals. By now, most companies have at least basic security solutions, such as firewalls and antivirus solutions to defend against malware. But as cybercriminals become more adept at breaking through traditional cyber defenses, basic security is becoming considerably less effective. To reduce the likelihood of a cyber-attack, it is recommended that you conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your data and systems, identify areas of vulnerability and implement advanced security solutions to overcome them (e.g., web monitoring software for safe Internet usage, endpoint protection for BYOD management and a sandbox to fight targeted attacks).
- Discounting Disasters. Contrary to what you may have thought, disasters, whether man-made or natural, are not a leading cause of data loss. In fact, they barely register on the list of the top five causes. Thus, many companies discount the need for a disaster preparedness plan. Outside the IT environment, though, this logic does not hold. While the odds of getting struck by lightning, for instance, are low (1 in 500,000, according to the National Weather Service), most people still feel compelled to take precautions during a thunderstorm. Why? Because the consequences of getting struck are severe. In much the same way, companies need to prepare for disasters, even if they aren’t probable, because the consequences of failing to do so can be disastrous. While there’s no single or easy formula for success, a strong disaster preparedness plan focuses on people, infrastructure and processes, and is based on a clear outline of how each is affected in different disaster scenarios. In terms of data protection, there are two basic schemes: tape-based rotational archiving and electronic-based replication of data to an off-premise site. Here again, an integrated D2D2x approach is best, so you can use disk, tape or electronic replication concurrently in order to optimize your overall disaster recovery spend.
Increasing the Odds of Protecting Your Company's Data
These are just a few of the ways to increase your odds of being able to protect your company’s most valuable asset: its data. The underlying keys to success, though, are your ability to play IT safe and work with the best products available.
Because you can be sure that, no matter what you do, at some point, you’re going to need to recover data. And when that happens, you don’t want to be sitting at the table with a losing hand. The better approach is to get the tools you need to play as effectively as possible (within a reasonable financial parameter) and use them to keep refining your game day strategy so you know it’s a winner when you need it most.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
About the author:
Subo Guha is the vice president of product management and marketing at Unitrends. In this role, he is responsible for defining Unitrends’ product strategy, roadmaps and approach to market enablement.