Reliance on the use of electronically stored business data has grown and will continue to grow at an exponential rate. To maintain a competitive edge and effectively manage businesses of virtually any size requires the use of electronically stored business systems, applications, and data.
The flip side to the increased use and benefits of electronic storage is the growing potential for devastating loss of mission critical data. Unfortunately business knowledge about threats to data, and more importantly about data backup and retrieval strategies, has not kept pace with the increase in risk associated with electronically storing more and more information. Many businesses have a false sense of security when it comes to the safety of their data.
Three Important Things to Know
1. Vulnerability to business application and data loss increases every day.
2. The impacts of data loss are often catastrophic to businesses.
3. Many if not most businesses have inadequate data backup and restoration strategies with key weaknesses including.
- Onsite or Insecure Offsite Backup
- Focus on Data Back-up rather than Data Restoration
- Failure to employ Managed Data Backup and Restoration Solutions
There are a number of reasons that data loss is increasing at an alarming rate.
- Increases in the use of computers to manage and support core business functions
- Increases in the electronic storage of mission critical data
- Technological advances in storage media make storing large amounts of data easier and less expensive but also increase the threat of large scale data loss
- Increasingly sophisticated viruses and other malware
- Ineffective and unreliable data backup and restoration strategies
Causes of Data Loss
While data on the specific percentages of causes of data loss vary, there is general agreement on the overall ranking of these causes.
1. Hardware or System Failures
Examples include storage media crashes, controller failures, and other electrical or hardware failures.
2. Human Error
Examples include accidental formatting or erasure of information, and damage caused by dropping or otherwise subjecting equipment to trauma.
3. Software Corruption
Examples include problems caused by software conflicts, software/hardware configuration problems, diagnostic or repair tools, and failed backups.
An increasing proliferation of viruses can result in catastrophic data loss. These include boot sector, file infecting, and polymorphic viruses. According to statistics provided by the CERT Coordination Center at the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, there were 417 vulnerability events reported in 1999, and 7,236 reported in 2007 (an increase of 1,735 %).
5. Natural Disasters
Fire and floods threaten electronic data storage as well as paper data storage. In addition, electrical brownouts or blackouts can result in data loss. Areas threatened by hurricanes are particularly vulnerable to this type of threat.
2. Impacts of Electronic Data Loss
Businesses have varying levels of awareness and concern about data loss and the potential inconvenience and cost that could result. But most don’t fully understand the truly catastrophic impact that losing access to mission critical data or applications can have. Depending on the reliability and resiliency of your data backup and restoration strategies, data loss can be much more than an inconvenience – It can mean the end of your business.
Here are some sobering statistics
- 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. (Source: National Archives & Records Administration in Washington)
- Companies that aren't able to resume operations within ten days (of a disaster hit) are not likely to survive. (Strategic Research Institute)
- A commonly noted but unreferenced statistic is that 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster.
3. Are your Data Backup and Restoration Strategies Adequate to Protect Your Business?
Clearly your business needs a sound strategy for backing up your business data and more importantly for restoring it quickly in the event of data loss. Is your strategy really protecting your business?
Here are some questions to ask:
1. Is your data backed up in a secure, offsite data center?
2. Does you strategy include a focus on the reliability of data restoration as well as data backup?
3. Is your backup and restoration process "managed" or does it rely on your employees scheduling and conducting backups and performing restorations?