Small businesses are immune to many threats that large businesses deal with; however, data loss is a threat that is lurking in the wings of both large and small businesses alike. Many small businesses don’t view their data as valuable enough to protect… until they lose it. Data loss can occur many different ways and always at an inconvenient time. There are several threats to data, but too often, small business owners stick their head in the sand and think they won’t be affected.
Software - Software has come a long way over the last several decades. It has advanced both in the way of being helpful and efficient but it has also progressed in the area of causing harm. Corrupt files affect any type of device, for any number of reasons. Malicious software is a primary cause of data loss. At one time, the threat was mainly software malfunction, but today the danger comes more in the form of malware and ransomware. As mentioned previously, ransomware operates just as it sounds. Cybercriminals can take data hostage by encrypting the binary code and demanding ransom for the “key”, or by deleting certain files periodically, if their demands are not adhered to.
Hardware - Of course, software is not the sole cause for data loss. Hardware malfunction is the second leading cause of data loss. Because hard drive failure is listed as the number one hardware malfunction, many people are moving to Solid State Drives. The Solid State Drive utilizes flash-based memory so there are no moving parts to be damaged. The SSD provides more stability, but is not a fail-safe. There is a limitation (albeit great) as to how many times data can be written to the drive, resulting in it not being recommended for use in servers. As with regular hard drives, recovery is both costly and time-consuming, should the SSD fail.
Human Error - With all of the technology we have at our fingertips, human error remains the number one cause for data loss. The most advanced computer user still makes errors that result in deleted files. One such error is from aggressive computer “housekeeping” when cleaning up the old files results in mistakenly discarding current files. Another common situation is password protecting files and not remembering the password. Likewise, if proper user permissions are not in place, the door can be left open for sensitive data to be lost.
Solutions – Of course, data backups are the best option to protect against data loss, but there are many different variables to the backup that should be considered. Factors like, in-house vs off site, local vs cloud, clone hard drive, remote hard drive, virtual hard drive, etc. The list goes on and on. If you don’t hire an IT guy or moonlight in computer technologies, you may run back and put your head in the sand again. Take heart, in our next article, we will take a look at some of your options and allow you to compare viable solutions for your company, so that you have a direction to pursue in safeguarding your data.