Running a business requires due diligence at every turn. You need to have your customers’ best interests at heart, while at the same time knowing how to maximize all transactions to produce the optimum business outcome. There are always a few things that you should pay closer attention to. Specifically, your data.
Your intellectual property and other confidential data are among the things you should safeguard diligently at all times. Your data contains your trade secrets and sets you apart from your competitors, as well as boosts your reputation from that of your competition.
How so? Cast your mind back to the recent security breaches that were highlighted in the global media. A popular website was compromised, and the identities of its members were aired to the world to see. Given the reputation of the website, the members faced public humiliation, particularly if they were upstanding members of the community. The website lost its credibility, its reputation is in shreds, and its members suffered humiliating consequences.
If there is any good to be had from this scenario, it would be that the importance of data security became highlighted for the world to see. This doesn’t mean that the information age would ground to a halt because of this. If anything, people became more wary where they would disclose their personal information. Internet users are therefore wiser and more alert about trusting websites and became more selective of the online services being said.
This is where your role as a service provider comes in handy. You have to ensure that the data your clients provide you are secure and are in good hands.
Why is data security important?
No matter how big or small your company may be, data security should be among your primary concerns. Whether you are handling sensitive information such as a patient’s medical history or even something as complex as SS numbers or credit cards numbers, you have to protect both your employees and your customers.
Here’s how you can do that:
- Know your digital assets – Having a data recovery plan not only on your physical computers but also on your mobile digital assets (such as your laptops and mobile phones) would at least give you peace of mind that your business would be protected from all fronts. Encourage all employees to regularly backup their devices and save all their backups on your server.
- Establish accountability – One of the ways through which you can guarantee data security is by establishing accountability. Keep track of your employees and restrict their Internet access. Keep an eye on who is using what service, as well as what kind of information is available to that person. Safeguard this data by using voice recording, or putting into place several security measures that would at least guarantee that your clients’ data would not be compromised. Once you know who exactly is doing what in your company, then you have additional peace of mind that an extra layer of security has been added into your daily operations.
- Always backup – One of the hallmarks of a good data recovery plan is consistently backing up and putting your backups into a secure server, as well as other secure locations. This way, no matter what happens, you can rest assured that you have multiple copies of your company’s latest data.
- Review regularly – Finally, going through all your data would help you see your weak points and would help you further strengthen your security. Find loopholes and fix them by solving your security issues and ensuring that they wouldn’t be able to damage your company again.
Of course, having all these things are all well and good, but what is a good security plan if you don’t have a failsafe data recovery plan?
Reasons you need a data recovery plan
Even though you have a failsafe security plan in place, there are still several things that are out of your control and can compromise your data. Among these reasons are:
- Nature is unpredictable – We’ve heard time and time again of how a company lost all valuable data through “acts of nature,” such as fires or flooding disasters. Even an undetected leakage in your server room can wreak havoc to your systems. That being said, you would need to ensure that you have a copy of all your valuable data away from your main office, and away from your main computer, for that matter, so that whenever the latter is compromised, you have peace of mind that your data can survive this latest challenge.
- Humans make mistakes – Another importance of having a data recovery plan is that no matter how failsafe your security plans may be, humans tend to make mistakes. Sometimes your employees may say that they have backed up their data or that they have followed through the procedures, only for you to find out that they haven’t been doing their duties. Likewise, you may have a new security officer who is unfamiliar with your systems. If you have inexperienced personnel on board, then you can also be compromising your data, which is why you should have a recovery plan in place.
- Machines and Hardware Fail – Lastly, there are still instances when even though you are using the latest systems and machines, your hardware would still suddenly fail. When this happens, your normal operations would be disrupted and you would be unable to provide your clients with the secure service they need. Rather than panic about the lost business, you should immediately put into action your data recovery plan so you can minimize your loses while still ensuring that your clients are going to be transacting in a secure channel.
These are some of the more common reasons why you need a data recovery plan. It is clearly a practice that can make or break your company when you need a backup or an additional plan of action when your security plans have failed.
Here’s what you need to know about it.
Creating a data recovery plan
Every company has unique ways of dealing with security issues and data recovery. That said, here are the basic steps you should take.
- Be open to the possibility of disasters – That’s not to say that you’re welcoming disasters from destroying your business. Rather, by admitting the possibility of disasters, you would then be placed in the best position to analyse your assets and conduct a thorough audit so you can fix the errors.
- Determine the likely sources of threats – Once you have admitted that it’s possible your company would fall into disaster, your next step to creating a data recovery plan is to categorize threats to the organization and see how they would impact your systems. This would also give you a guideline as to how much downtime you would tolerate once a system is down, and if so, what you can do to minimize the downtime without further compromising the company’s security. This has to be planned alongside management, as what might be ideal for you may not be ideal for them. Remember though that you might have to compromise with the management as it takes time for some systems to be up – particularly if you want to ensure that they are in full working condition again.
- Let everyone know your data recovery plan – Once you have determined the threats, let the bosses in on your plans. You can deliberate with them on how you want to proceed, or the minimum downtime for each system as it fails. Once all of you have come to an agreement, you can then proceed with funding the infrastructure you need, as well as finding the systems that will keep your company more secure.
- Invest in an external infrastructure – Your main server and data server must be in your central location BUT you need to have a backup that monitors everything in your primary server that is secured in a different location. This way, in case natural disasters happen, your data would not be compromised as they would be easy to recover. Likewise, when you have an external data recovery plan, you would then have the flexibility of imposing several lines of defence, such as cutting off power at the first sight of attack. Once the power is cut and your system recovery kicks in, the attacker would’ve momentarily lost collection and would then have to once again try to penetrate your system – although this time you would be aware of it.
- Talk about your contingency policies – Once you have everything in place, it’s time to educate concerned personnel about the changes. Senior management must be aware of your move from the get-go, while mid-level managers whose work may be compromised once the system fails may need to know about contingency plans. It can also be on a “need-to-know basis,” as you see fit.
- Test and keep testing – Of course, having a good data recovery plan is only one part of the puzzle – you have to ensure that it is running smoothly as well. To do this, make sure that you routinely check your data recovery plan in real time situations. Granted, there might be system loss for an hour or two – but by doing this, you would be able to see where your weakness may be and you would be able to strengthen that loophole.
Now, all of this can be very confusing, but not if you have the right service provider to implement these systems and to keep them in place.