Six Ways Businesses Can Prevent Loss of Valuable Data

1 - Six Ways Businesses Can Prevent Loss of Valuable Data
2 - Changing Advanced Settings
3 - Exposing the Company to Ransomware
4 - Ignoring Hardware Failures
5 - Not Following Security Protocols
6 - Using Improper Backup Procedures
7 - Back Up the Backups
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Six Ways Businesses Can Prevent Loss of Valuable Data

Losing business data is never a trivial occurance. According to a 2016 study from IBM that focused on the costs of data breaches and loss, the average consolidated cost increased from $3.8 million to $4 million year over year. On a granular level, the study also found the costs for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information increased from $154 to $158. The stakes are indeed high for companies to properly manage their data because loss and data exposure can effectively ruin a firm's reputation with customers and partners. In this eWEEK slide show,  David Zimmerman, CEO and founder of LC Technology, offers several ways employees and IT are causing companies to lose data along with some best practices for preventing a crippling data loss.

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Changing Advanced Settings

The "advanced settings" feature on computers is not there just for show. It's a serious warning to the user that they better know what they are doing before they start making system changes. A frequent example of such a setting involves the BIOS (Basic Input Output System), which is the chip that instructs the computer on the next steps to take after power-on. Changes to this setting can be made with the best intentions, but they might expose the machine to data loss or theft. Advanced settings adjustments are best handled by IT in controlled environments in order to greatly reduce the chances of local data loss.

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Exposing the Company to Ransomware

Ransomware is a hacking scheme that involves taking over a person's computer files, encrypting them so they appear as garbled text/images and then asking for a ransom for the encryption key. Hackers typically gain access through email attachments or by guessing passwords, which further reinforces the need for complex passwords. Data loss comes when the hackers steal valuable information during the ransom period, or if the ransom isn't paid, the hackers will typically leave the data encrypted or destroy it beyond repair.

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Ignoring Hardware Failures

With the cloud offering affordable and secure storage, it's puzzling that many firms still secure their information only on local machines. Computers and servers can fail, which immediately exposes the company to data loss. Hard drives and solid-state drives can become corrupted, and they often fail when exposed to a fall or even to changes in temperature or humidity. Power supplies within these devices are a common problem because the device then can't draw power and will not be able to boot. Some of these devices can be fixed, but the modern business can't be put on hold while a laptop or server is sent in for repairs. Company managers should discuss best practices with employees about securing portable devices and relying on the cloud for data storage.

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Not Following Security Protocols

Many of the hacking incidents we see on the news are caused by simple errors by staff members. Someone in IT might have an admin password of "12345" or an employee might open attachments from unknown senders. Another conduit for hackers is banner ads from disreputable sites. Companies must put in place strict policies on password management and utilizing the internet in order to protect the network. Better procedures make the company a less desirable target for hackers. While a devoted team of cyber-criminals can hack the most complex passwords, they make money by efficiently targeting easy marks, so they'll move on when confronted with a challenge. Make hacking difficult by instituting passwords with upper and lower case letters and characters that do not include any actual words.

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Using Improper Backup Procedures

A very common reason for data loss (especially among smaller companies) is because they store data locally, experience a failure event but do not have a data backup plan. It's 2017, and data storage is very inexpensive, both for physical drives and cloud storage—especially when doing a risk/reward analysis where you compare the downside of losing data with the costs of storage. Businesses should instill strict backup procedures for their corporate data, including processes for individual employees and departments. Moving data to the cloud is an ideal choice, as it removes content and potentially confidential files from laptops, thumb drives and other more exposed storage methods.

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Back Up the Backups

Companies should also make "backups of the backups" due to cheap storage. Smaller firms can move data to the cloud and also back up to external hard drives and store them at a different secure location.