How to Prevent Data Loss & Be Protected
Table of Contents
- By David Lukic
- Feb 25, 2022
Data is a collection of information saved for future uses. Many people rely only upon factory hard drives in laptop or desktop computers to preserve this information, but accidental loss or irretrievable damage can create serious problems. Most people don’t think about the many potential scenarios of data loss, whether from weather-related events, simple accidents, or sophisticated attacks.
Businesses are particularly vulnerable to data loss. Hackers may target companies with ransomware, and employees are a potential source of data loss through neglect, poor training, phishing schemes, and malicious intent.
Data Can Include:
- Personal documents.
- Banking information.
- Saved passwords.
- Customer information.
- Proprietary company information.
- Human resources files.
- Prospects files.
Ways Data May Be Lost
Computers have become much more reliable since the days of floppy disk storage, but the potential for common human error hasn’t changed in centuries. Those who rely completely on hard drive storage risk significant loss when the computer itself is dropped or otherwise damaged in a flood, fire, theft, or a similar incident. But even the most sophisticated cloud storage is not immune from errors and malfunctions that can lead to data loss.
Consider these ways that data can be lost:
- Natural disasters that destroy servers.
- Power surges that burn hard drives.
- Phishing attacks that launch destructive malware on your hard drive.
- Mechanical failure that damages the hard drive.
- Deficiencies in software that are targeted by malware attacks.
- Ransomware attacks that encrypt data and hold it hostage in exchange for untraceable payment.
- Lapses in firewall and antivirus software contracts.
- Stolen equipment that provides access to passwords and files.
- Breaches at off-site servers that allow hackers to steal or destroy files.
How to Prevent Data Loss
Individuals and businesses should evaluate the pros and cons of different types of data backup to find the best solution for them. For many, a periodic backup to a commercially available external hard drive is sufficient, but for others with large files or the need to access account information remotely, cloud solutions are best.
Not all data loss is permanent, but it often results in high recovery costs and lost time, regardless of the cause. In the past decade, cloud computing has offered a cost-effective solution for the likely event of data loss, but prevention of data loss is primary. Businesses that rely on stored files should consider a security consultation that examines all practices and access points to ensure all the possible steps have been taken to:
- Evaluate weaknesses and chances for loss at all data access points.
- Educate those who have access to the data.
- Put protective steps in daily practice.
- Establish and follow a process that blocks access for former employees.
- Segment the ability to access according to employees’ job descriptions, which could prevent any whaling attacks.
- Set up automatic processes to back up data and evaluate the cost/benefit of automatic synchronization.
- Create redundant backup systems, such as external hard drives that are secured in a different location.
Plan for Data Loss
Rather than waiting for the worst to happen, set up a practice scenario for data loss and work backward. Are your backup files accessible so that you or your company won’t miss a step, lose customers, or cause a logjam in your supply chain? Make continuing education a priority for employees with any access to data, including practice scenarios of phishing. Consider putting strong safeguards in place for the most important data access, including requiring two employees to work together to release any data or allow third-party access.
The Reality of Cloud Storage
There are many cloud storage companies popping up, promising to back up your data and preserve it. The convenience of being able to retrieve your files from any location with internet access is liberating, but it’s easy to be misled. Cloud storage sounds futuristic and sophisticated, but in fact, it is really just a company hosting your data on its off-site servers. While professional data storage is preferential to keeping everything on the hard drive of your laptop, it is not immune to many of the same threats facing an external hard drive at your home.
The benefits of cloud storage include:
- Access to files from any internet-enabled computer.
- Potential for encryption of stored files.
- Potential for synchronization of files rather than complete periodic backups.
- Potential for employees to share editing of stored files.
Cloud storage services rely on physical servers because there is no magical “cloud,” which is just a marketing term describing the accessibility of the data stored there. In fact, large cloud storage companies may be higher-profile targets for hacking or ransomware attacks due to the volume of information on hand. In addition, cloud storage services may:
- Go out of business or be purchased by another company that changes the terms of service.
- Be destroyed by natural disasters.
- Suffer an internal hardware breakdown that fries files.
- Be targets for ransomware attacks by disgruntled employees.
- Have flawed software security programs.
Encryption is a serious issue with cloud storage. Does the storage company encrypt your information, and if so, how do you access it? An internationally known data thief suggests encrypting your own data before sending it to storage or finding a cloud storage facility with remote encryption and decryption capabilities that enable you to encrypt the information and provide the key to you alone.
Our reliance on computers to store all our business data as well as all-important personal information requires periodic examination of safety issues. Have your storage evaluated for data loss through the many possible scenarios offered here and choose a long-term storage solution that fits your budget and daily needs.