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Businesses increasingly suffer problems with data security: companies of all sizes are very reliant on computers and the internet to transact business, with some business being purely internet based. Not only are there more business assets that are exposed to damage or loss, criminals also find the ability to turn a profit increasingly easier and lucrative. For this reason, businesses need to plan around the protection and the recovery of their data in case the worst happens.

Causes of data loss

Loss of data happens for a variety of reasons – not all related to criminal activity and hacking. Everything from hardware and software failure through to natural disasters pose a risk. In many cases damage to data occurs due to many different problems occurring simultaneously, which can make it difficult to plan and protect against loss. Often a business is its own worst enemy: damage to data by employees working at a business is a not uncommon occurrence.

The growing concern for most businesses is the threat posed by cybercrime. Large organisations have suffered from vast amounts of data being stolen, while even small businesses have been victims of automated hacking tools which simply prey on the smallest vulnerability. With the explosion of devices and services in use it takes only one insecure or repeated password to open the gates to online robots which can hijack or wipe out your business data.

How to recover from loss

With such an elevated risk of data loss all businesses are advised to plan for the possibility that they will experience a significant data-loss event. Often it is the recovery plan in place which determines the real damage that data loss results in. Most businesses have some backups of their data, but the speed at which systems can be re-installed and re-activated has a major impact on the loss of revenue your business experiences.

Assessing the degree of damage is the first step. It is often recommended that companies prohibit employees from accessing email or switching on computers until the extent of the damage has been established, as a working computer that is infected can spread the problem. Likewise, if data loss is being caused by an email borne virus it can be stopped from spreading by simply not accessing email accounts for a period of time.

One way to speed up the process of recovery – and to minimise the losses involved – is to hire a professional. Companies such as Fields Data Recovery have the knowledge and experience to examine computer hard drives and online storage sources to recover data to a large extent. Forensic examination of storage media can lead to a substantial amount of data being recovered, while locked accounts can often be restored with the correct procedures.

Protecting your data

By far the most common and most important strategy for mitigating data loss is backup storage. Keeping backups is a complex and multi-layered task: simply keeping one daily, on-site backup will not protect you from a disaster that destroys your business premises. Likewise, any data lost in the days before the last backup, but only discovered more recently, will not be recoverable.

Instead, when planning your backup strategy include backups which are stored offsite, and keep an archive of backups that are saved every 7, 30 and 90 days. The fact that backups alone is a complicated topic suggests how data protection and security can often have unexpected snags. In fact, hiring IT expertise in planning your data protection strategy is the best option.

Experts will help you with backup strategies and assess where your company is at risk in other areas. If you have several travelling or remote employees you will want to take specific precautions, depending on where they are travelling to. If your computers and networks are being used by many temporary employees or the public, other important protection measures need to be put in place.

Informing your stakeholders

It is crucial that you keep all the stakeholders in your business informed of any data loss. This includes your customers, especially if the data loss includes customer data. Everyone from employees to investors and suppliers should be kept abreast of the issue. Though a security breach or other source of data loss can appear embarrassing, it is becoming so commonplace that most people and businesses are likely to be relatively sympathetic. Yet this will only be the case if you are being honest with everyone involved throughout.

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