The last couple of years will likely go down as one of the worst periods in the history of computer security, with major hacks, breaches and loss of data. Anthem, JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, Target, eBay and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management are just a few of the recent high-profile breaches.
Of course no discussion of data breaches would be complete without including the Ashley Madison and NSA hacks, both of which have had, and will continue to have, long-lasting implications. While many instances are not nearly as sinister, data loss and mismanagement in any form can be a costly disaster.
“Added together, the costs due to technical services, lost productivity, and the value of lost data bring the expected cost for each data loss incident to $3,957,” writes David M. Smith, PHD, for Graziadio Business Review. Dr. Smith goes on to estimate “that annual data losses to PCs cost US businesses $18.2 billion. This estimate represents an increase from a 1999 study that estimated the annual cost of lost data to be $11.8 billion.”
What can you do to prevent your company from being another victim? What data management mistakes can you avoid?
Choose What Data Is Important
In an era of big data, many companies make the mistake of believing that every single scrap of data must be kept, archived and stored indefinitely.
The truth of the matter is that few, if any, companies can afford to be so indiscriminate about their data retention—nor should they be. While proper data management and retention can be an invaluable tool, too much data can be a significant drain on resources, not only in the hardware it takes to maintain it, but also in the effort it takes to sort, search and make use of it.
Instead, companies should take the time to properly ascertain exactly what data they need to keep, specifically what data will actually be useful. Talk with managers, team leaders and employees. Find out what data they need to access in order to complete their work and for the company to run smoothly, and then build your data management policy around that dataset.
Not Having a Plan for BYOD
“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” is a common proverb that well illustrates the dangers of not having a data management plan.
Nowhere is this mistake more common than when it comes to mobile devices and the trend toward Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workforces. A single stolen laptop or destroyed tablet can be a devastating loss.
To minimize the risk, clear policies should be established that regulate what information can be accessed and by whom, what devices can be used to access company information remotely, what security measures and encryption protocols will be used to protect such data and what steps will be taken to physically protect such devices.
Not Utilizing Proper Backups
Another common mistake is not implementing a proper backup strategy. Even worse, many companies only realize the limitations of their current strategy when it’s needed the most, after an issue has already occurred.
First and foremost, any backup strategy must include redundancy. Writing about backup strategies as it pertains to the use of their software, Oracle highlights the “golden rule of backup and recovery.”
“Always keep the redundancy set separate from the primary files in every way possible: on separate volumes, separate file systems, and separate RAID devices. These systems are reliable, but they can and do fail. Keeping the redundancy set separate ensures that you can recover from a failure without losing committed transactions.”
Proper data management can make all the difference between a profitable, functioning company and one that must deal with the consequences of data loss and mismanagement, losses that range from financial loss to legal liability and public fallout. By taking a few simple precautions, you can make sure your company does not become another statistic, instead successfully navigating a world and economy where data is king.