Data loss can be devastating for all businesses, but especially those that don’t prepare for them. Fortunately, there are several things people can do to prevent data loss or handle it once it occurs. It’s not easy to stay level-headed after a data loss, but these 7 preventative measures and practical responses should help companies mitigate the effects.
1. Understand the Most Common Reasons for Data Loss
Various issues can cause data loss, and the first step in preventing it is recognizing the most prominent risks. Statistics show that 67 percent of data loss happens from hard drive or system failures, but research in the United Kingdom shows that most data loss occurs because of human error. If companies learn about the risks, it’ll be easier to determine how to deal with them in proactive ways.
2. Create a Disaster Recovery Plan
Many businesses make disaster recovery plans to help them handle crises like tornados and floods. Although it’s necessary to keep those catastrophes in mind, data recovery should factor into the plan too. It’s best to have the document formatted as a step-by-step list. When people are under pressure, they may otherwise forget to perform some necessities.
3. Do a Data Inventory
When businesses are not aware of the data they have and where it’s stored, it’ll be difficult or impossible for them to know what’s lost. In other words, preparing for data loss requires doing a data inventory and paying particular attention to sensitive data, such as files containing customer names or payment details. Next, these businesses must know which employees have access to the data and remind them of the steps to take to check on it immediately if a breach or loss happens and what to do if the data is compromised. When taking stock of the data, it’s crucial to account for all sources, such as data stored on workers’ smartphones. When it comes to device productivity, smartphones are typically throwaway gadgets when they no longer serve their purposes, whereas people will more likely get faltering computers repaired. It’s not difficult to imagine the consequences if an employee threw away a no-longer-functional smartphone with valuable data on it.
4. Make an Emergency Contacts List
A company’s disaster recovery plan should include steps related to contacting certain individuals and organizations. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to have an easily accessible list of emergency contacts that anyone can use to take action immediately after data loss occurs.
5. Don’t Assume That Cloud-Stored Data Is Safe
Many people who use cloud services believe they don’t have to worry about losing data. On the contrary, numerous things can result in the loss of cloud-stored content. Physical equipment could fail, or people could carelessly delete something — those are just two of the many possibilities. Backing things up to the cloud is one storage solution, but it should not be the only method any forward-thinking business uses. Instead, the best approach is to back data up in several places. That way, if one fails, business representatives can start working from a backup version.
Going back to cloud storage as a whole, reputable service providers discuss how they handle data loss in the service level agreement (SLA). Also, some providers offer mirroring services that make extra copies of entire databases in case something happens to the originals. Businesses should consider going with that approach if they have especially sensitive data.
6. Understand the Required Procedure for Data Breach Notifications
Immediately after a data loss incident, many businesses immediately start thinking about what they need to do to get the company back on track, and that’s understandable. However, those entities cannot overlook the need to provide the proper notification of data breaches. In the days immediately after data loss, it may not be clear whether people handled the data in unauthorized ways. That element of doubt makes it appropriate for people to act as if a breach occurred unless they get information that confirms it didn’t. Procedures for notifications vary by state and vary based on the kind of information affected, which is why it’s necessary to stay updated on the specifics.
7. Be Straightforward With Affected Customers
Today’s society is becoming increasingly familiar with data loss instances, thanks in large part to the most prominent ones that make the headlines week after week. A 2017 survey found that most people — 70 percent — would stop doing business with companies that experience data breaches. Companies must be honest about data loss that affects customers and try to repair their damaged reputations.
About the author:
Kayla Matthews is a technology writer and the editor of Productivity Bytes. Her work has been featured on Digital Trends, MakeUseOf, VICE, VentureBeat, The Daily Dot and WIRED, among others. Follow her on Twitter to read her latest posts.