Data loss incidents, when an organization suffers the loss of valuable data, can cause considerable harm to the business. The loss may be as a result of a natural disaster, fire, or theft, and the impact can be irreparable. Yet statistics show that relatively few organizations adopt robust data protection policies. This is short-sighted because sensitive and important data is held in the cloud, and its loss, even if temporary, can hurt the organization.
Risk of Data Loss
The most likely reason for the loss of data is through a natural disaster, and interestingly, significant portions of the country are at risk in one way or other. Heavy flooding, hurricanes, and earthquakes have a wide geographical spread and one incident can affect a large area, so it’s important to consider not only the business location, but also the location of data servers. In addition to natural events, data may also be lost through fire and theft.
An easy way to understand the business risk is to ask one simple question: What if we lose our data?
According to a 2014 Global IT Study that surveyed 3,300 respondents, 64 percent of organizations experienced data loss in the last 12 months. The research highlighted that the cost to enterprises of lost data and downtime was $1.7 trillion.
Researchers found that although a high percentage of organizations had disaster recovery plans in place, relatively few had implemented effective data protection practices and less than half employed remote, cloud-based data protection.
Impact of Lost Data
There are two aspects of data loss that affect organizations. Firstly, there’s the loss of the data itself that may include essential operational information, critical customer data, and proprietary information, all of which affects the company’s ability to function. Secondly, there is downtime that inevitably arises from the incident as the organization works to recreate or recover the data. In the worst-case scenario, an organization might have to suspend operations for a period of time, resulting in lost revenue.
Apart from the short-term losses, businesses may incur ongoing difficulties that lead to the loss of customers, lower sales, and long-term reduction in revenue. In many instances this can mean closure or bankruptcy.
Based on the Global IT research, companies need to take the risk of data loss seriously and implement a workable disaster recovery (DR) plan.
Disaster Recovery Plan
Although a comprehensive DR plan needs to consider all aspects of disaster recovery, there can be no recovery if the data is not available. Consequently, at the core of the DR plan must be a process for ongoing data backup and remote storage. Should data be lost, this would mean that it can be recovered, operating systems restored, and business resumed with little delay.
Contingency planning must allow for the possibility of partial or complete loss of data. Additionally, apart from allowing for natural calamities, plans should factor in the risk of man-made catastrophes, such as fire, explosion, equipment failure, and data theft.
Every business faces the possibility of losing data in one way or another. It’s imperative to be ready for a disaster to strike, so that when it does, businesses are able to respond promptly and effectively to restore data and get back online.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) plans benefit a business by offering access to a cloud-based infrastructure that is tailored to their specific needs. However, many businesses are concerned with keeping their data safe with IaaS.
When subscribing to an IaaS plan, here’s how businesses can protect their sensitive data.
Awareness of What a Business Controls
Business users who subscribe to an IaaS plan should be aware of exactly what their plan entails. This includes the configuration of the infrastructure and how users will be able to access different data. By being aware of what they need to control, businesses will be knowledgeable and informed about the security of their plan.
It’s important to know who owns the data within the infrastructure. Understanding ownership details enables a business to navigate logistical situations and protect the organization against legal factors.
The Service Level Agreement
By understanding the Service Level Agreement (SLA), businesses help protect their data and intellectual property. An SLA is a fluid document and should be treated as such.
Complying With Regulations
In order to keep their IaaS secure, businesses need to be aware of industry regulations. Businesses should ensure that their IaaS provider is willing and able to work with them to fine-tune the management of processes and configuration capabilities.
Cloud hosting plans are completely virtual and not necessarily hosted within an organization, which means end user authentication can present a high security risk. Employees should keep login credentials private and be properly trained in authentication best practices. This doesn’t mean that end users should be inconvenienced or restricted; technology leaders should lead by example when establishing best practices, and businesses should find the balance between security and convenience for their users.
Monitor the Network
Even with the best security in the world, a business may run into issues with their IaaS if network monitoring is lacking. It is important to know and understand the network in order to catch unauthorized activity before it turns into a security breach. Monitoring the wireless infrastructure — especially as many users are now employing mobile devices to connect — will also prevent unauthorized users from accessing the cloud.
Employees aren’t always aware of how security holes can be created. Something as simple as accessing the infrastructure through a public Wi-Fi hotspot can create major security risks. Businesses can easily reduce these risks by training employees to understand how best to keep their connection secure.
Businesses must be aware of how their IaaS provider handles data backups, especially if using a new provider. Understanding the vendor’s redundancy procedures and being able to take action allows a business to protect their assets.
Data in Transit
Data moving between users, the data center, and the location of the IaaS systems can come under attack in different ways. In order to enhance security as much as possible, businesses must understand how this data moves.
Internal Unauthorized Activities
Users with authorization might still perform unauthorized activities. As well as ensuring that employees understand best practices, businesses should also ensure that the IaaS vendor has professional staff members and can control potential internal issues.
IaaS vendors assists with security strategies, but it never hurts for a business to have their own plans in place. By understanding their plan, monitoring their network, and ensuring that all staff members follow best practices, businesses have the ability to data safe.