The Bransom Blog

How much is your data ACTUALLY worth?

How much is your data ACTUALLY worth?

Would you panic if your PC got a virus that couldn’t be fixed?

What would happen to your data if you were unlucky enough to have a fire or flood on the premises?

What is somebody broke in and stole your computers or tills, or you lost your laptop? What effect would it have on your business?

Do you realise your computer will stop working at some point in the future?

Have you heard about cryptolocker or been unlucky enough to suffer an infection?

Did you know that cyber crime is the most common crime in the country – nearly 12 MILLION offences last year.

Have you heard of the phrase ‘Disaster Recovery’ and thought it sounded expensive?

 

We’re sure some of these questions have occurred to you – if not they should have, as there are certain inevitabilities in IT as well as the remote possibility of physical disasters such as a fire.

Pure physics says that hard disks (or SSDs) have a finite life. Every hard disk ever made has either stopped working by now or will do at some point. This isn’t a conspiracy by the IT industry, it’s just how they work (or don’t).

The recent phenomenon of malware that encrypts files for ransom is particularly nasty, and is in general impossible to fix – a full restore is the only option.

The only thing between you and a data disaster is a proper backup policy. You do have one of them, don’t you?

 


Well, these statistics might surprise, or even worry you!

  • 46% of internet users still do not perform any type of data backup
  • One out of three users has lost his data at least once
  • 56%of the personal users don’t have more than one copy of their backup, while 75% of business data users have 2 copies.
  • Security stays the biggest concern for cloud backup among 70% of personal and 59% of business data users
    (statistics from cloudberrylab.com)

There isn’t a right or wrong way of planning a backup policy, but you must have one in place.

For example, a large business who can’t spare any “downtime” may well have an alternative office site, spare servers and PCs, cloud backups and physical  backups stored offsite ready to go. This would be a comprehensive disaster recovery plan – they have a written policy that if for example their head office was flooded or fire damaged, everyone knows what to do in order to get back up and running instantly.

At the other end of the spectrum, a smaller business may think keeping a copy on a memory stick in a drawer somewhere with occasional backups on is enough.

Obviously, there is a huge difference in cost, and effectiveness of these strategies. The reality is that most retail jewellers would fall somewhere in between these two extremes. In addition to urging you to consider how, when and to where you are doing backups, we suggest you consider the following:

  • How often should you backup?
  • Do you have backups stored in a fire safe?
  • Do you keep more than one copy of your backup?
  • If so, do you keep them in separate places?
  • Do you have backups stored offsite?
  • Do you have backups stored on the cloud?
  • Do you know where to find/use the above in case of a data loss  (for example, passwords)?
  • Do your staff know what to do if data loss happens and you’re not around?

The likelihood of a natural disaster is thankfully tiny, but as a business you must protect yourself. After all, shops can be rebuilt and jewellery replaced (insurance is another subject entirely), but your data is much more difficult to reproduce or recover, so you should invest some time and money in a strategy to protect yourself. If you lost your data, how would you submit your accounts figures for corporation tax, or pay your VAT bill without exhaustive regeneration of the figures (if at all possible). Apart from your business figures, you might keep employee data, correspondence, email folders, website backups on your computer, and what would happen if you lost all that? How would you help a customer with warranty problems with his purchases if you lost the records?

Planning your backup policy

Firstly, think about how often you should take a backup. Some data is day-sensitive, while other data may just need backing up weekly. Here are a few suggestions you could also consider:

  • If you use memory sticks, don’t rely on just one. This could easily go faulty, be lost, or be damaged in a fire. Always use several sticks.
  • Label them e.g. Mon, Tue,…Sat and rotate them daily. Keep the unused ones in a safe.
  • Nominate a staff member or business owner to take home a new memory stick every week or month with a backup.
  • Consider network accessible storage (NAS) systems. These can automate backups to the cloud which gives you an extra layer of protection.
  • Think about your data – what needs to be backed up and what doesn’t?  For example apart from your business data (stock, sales, repairs, tills, images) you may have documents, spreadsheets, emails and HR data that you can’t run the business without.
  • To prevent data theft, consider hard-drive encryption so that if you did lose a laptop the data would also be difficult to read.
  • Make sure your software is as up-to-date as possible, particularly operating systems (e.g Windows XP is now so obsolete and unsupported that it is a major threat for a virus attack).

You can also make preventative steps to avoid physical disasters:

  1. Have all your equipment PAT-tested regularly (at least every 2 years, possibly annually) to avoid electrical fires.
  2. Keep your equipment away from areas with water pipes, or flood-risk areas.
  3. Follow guidelines for using and storing flammable materials.
  4. Ensure your electrical systems are safe.

Hopefully, you’ll already have everything in place, but if not this article may have made you think more about how you keep your data safe. Just as importantly, make sure your staff are trained what to do if a problem occurs – you may well not be in the shop or be available.

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