Few things send a chill down the spine like the prospect of data loss. Modern companies are increasingly reliant on digital data, from emails and intranets through to databases and spreadsheets. Losing information from any of these platforms can be a disaster – and losing all of them can be fatal. The Government have stated that 70 per cent of UK companies experiencing severe data losses go out of business within 18 months.
What Can Cause Data Loss?
Data loss can be caused by a number of factors, from software glitches and botched upgrades through to human error or criminality. The threat of hacking and malware is never far away, while vengeful former colleagues can also pose a threat to sensitive data. Although no system is ever completely safe against malicious activity, various steps can be taken to maximise data loss protection and minimise the risk of irretrievable harm being done. Whether the loss was deliberate or inadvertent, few firms can dedicate the resources needed to fully restore everything.
Some Valuable Tips to Maximise Data Loss Protection
Any valuable data should be stored securely, ideally on a private server or in the cloud. As is often the case, Google has set a benchmark for cloud-hosted data loss protection. It blocks email access from programs deemed to be unsafe, sends warning messages when information is accessed from an unrecognised location, and it requires administrator access to make certain account changes. Along with two-factor authentication, these steps can protect valuable data – including those all-important email histories. With many contracts and agreements conducted entirely via email, losing PST archives is almost unthinkable.
Many email services are cloud-hosted, and the data loss protection offered by secure network centres means that information can’t be corrupted or deleted as it can with offline hard drives. While some people prefer the security of hosting sensitive material in a silo inaccessible by anyone else, documents and folders should be regularly backed up onto a data key/hard drive or uploaded into a Dropbox-style online storage service. File backups are like insurance policies – hopefully unnecessary, but invaluable should the worst ever happen.
Be Smart: Firewalls, Antivirus Programs and Computer Settings
Rather than connecting computers directly to the internet, many companies use a server firewall as a gateway, making it harder for hackers (or viruses) to travel across a network. Firewalls can also be bolstered with antivirus programs of varying sophistication, from blue chip software packages to free online tools like AdAware or Spybot. It’s advisable to raise each computer’s web browser security settings to block pop-ups, and warn against unsafe sites that could trigger a malware attack or reveal personal data via unsecured connections.
Data loss protection also involves diligent hardware maintenance. If a laptop’s fan is constantly running at full speed, or a server seems to be slower every day, there’s clearly a developing issue that needs addressing. Computers can suddenly expire in a cloud of smoke, but semi-regular inspections and repairs will prolong their lifespans considerably. It doesn’t take a huge amount of IT knowledge to replace individual PC components, though avoid unnecessary software updates where possible. These rarely cause total data loss, but it can be aggravating if a vital program or application starts conflicting with recent system changes…