Data loss is a risk for every business. As cybercrime becomes more commonplace, it has never been more critical for companies to ensure robust, effective backup and recovery strategies.
Most people have been in a situation where they’ve lost work, but the impact of data loss on a company is likely to be much more devastating. Of the 39% of businesses that identify security breaches or cyber-attacks in the UK during 2021, over 20% lose money or assets, and 35% report widespread disruption, including suspending services, displacing staff, and spending time and money on investing in new measures.
Why is backing up data important?
Companies and organisations today have vast amounts of data. Data loss can have consequences for every business, regardless of the cause. Backing-up data protects your business, forming a rapid response to aid recovery and business continuity. If your business was to suffer a security breach now, or an employee made a mistake, which resulted in the loss of critical files, how quickly would your company be able to react?
Data backups give you access to a copy of your data systems enabling you to trigger restoration processes and cut recovery times. Failing to back up data can cost you financially and impact your brand image and reputation. Consumers want to be able to trust the companies with whom they share their personal data. In addition, customers may look elsewhere if a business has a history of losing data or if it takes a long time to recover following an incident.
The dangers of not backing up your data
Data loss can occur through human error, technical problems, natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and security breaches. Suppose your business needs watertight data protection and a backup strategy. In that case, there is a risk of losing valuable or sensitive data and a slow recovery. If your data is backed up and your recovery strategy is effective and agile, you can recover data quickly to minimise disruption and ensure service continuity.
Despite the risks of breaches and attacks and the frequency of human mistakes, studies suggest that almost 20% of UK businesses don’t back up data. In addition, nearly 4 million companies do not adhere to data backup and recovery best practice measures.
The implications of data loss can be catastrophic for small, medium-sized and large companies. A study by The Diffusion Group found that 60% of companies that experience data loss shut down within six months, and over 70% fold within 12 months. Security breaches contribute to financial losses, but crucially, they also impact customer confidence. A third of businesses have lost customers following a security breach.
Developing an effective backup/recovery strategy
There are two key elements to focus on when designing and implementing an effective backup-recovery strategy. The first task is to ensure that you back your data up frequently. The second task is to test your plan to ensure it works. If you back up your data but don’t conduct restoration testing, there is a risk of losing data and being unable to recover fast enough to stay afloat. So here are some pointers to develop an effective backup/recovery strategy for your business:
Analyse and evaluate your requirements
Every company is different. Businesses face various risks and have varied requirements regarding the types of data they handle or store, their workplace and staffing structure and the technology they use. For example, if you have a remote or hybrid workforce, your strategy should recognise the risks posed by mobile and remote employees and using different devices. Pinpoint primary objectives and look for solutions that are appropriate for your business.
Explore different backup solutions
There are options to consider when looking for backup solutions. Cloud-based backup applications and solutions can be incredibly beneficial for some companies, but they might not always be the best choice. It is often beneficial to provide more comprehensive cover by utilising different solutions, such as keeping an offsite data backup in place.
At SaneChoice, we implement different backup strategies to protect our clients. For example, our hosting servers are cloud-based, and we take regular snapshots to enable the fast recovery of an entire platform. We also use a traditional file-based backup solution so that clients can restore specific files from an overnight backup. Most importantly, every backup is stored far away from the source data, ensuring that a total loss can never occur.
Test your capability to restore
Some businesses are proactive in backing up data but may need more time or attention to test their systems and protocols and check restoration capabilities and times. Testing is crucial to highlight weaknesses and inefficiencies and facilitate a speedy recovery during data loss or an attack. Research indicates that 95% of companies have a disaster recovery plan, but 23% have never tested their strategy.
Testing is a very under-looked aspect of recovery strategies. We have seen many businesses feel secure with their backup mechanisms but find out only too late that it takes days to recover. Restoration time is especially a problem when you need to recover large amounts of data, like from a database. Looking at your recovery times also forces you to consider how to reduce massive data sets.
Consider the impact of data loss, outages, downtime and disruption
Every business owner knows that data loss can be devastating, but how many company directors and bosses have an accurate idea of the scale of the impact of losing data or taking time to restore files and oversee the recovery process? Suppose you have a slick, professional plan that is tested regularly. In that case, you may be able to bounce back very quickly with minimal impact on your finances and reputation, but what if it takes 2 or 3 days to restore data? For many businesses, this could be fatal.
Data protection, cybersecurity and data backup/recovery should be priorities for business owners. In an age where cybercrime is increasingly prevalent and the amount of data companies handle is growing, it’s crucial to ensure that you have an effective, robust backup and recovery strategy. Once you have designed and implemented plans, ensure they are tested regularly.
If you follow best practice guidelines, you can minimise disruption, protect your reputation, reduce financial losses and recover rapidly. However, it’s wise to seek expert advice if you don’t have experience in data protection and security or are looking to bolster your policies and systems.