While executives often feel their organization is very prepared to recover from data loss or damage, their IT professionals say otherwise. Going dark for days at a time could significantly alter revenue generation for a small business, especially during the busy holiday shopping season.
If your small business has a busy holiday shopping season, disaster recovery preparedness should be a major part of your holiday planning process. A 2016 survey revealed a huge disconnect between C-suites and IT professionals in how prepared they thought their organizations were to handle a disaster. While nearly 70 percent of C-level executives felt their organizations were "very prepared" to recover from data loss or damage, less than 50 percent of the IT professionals at those same organizations agreed.
Many businesses make the bulk of their annual revenue during the Q4 holiday season. Going dark for days at a time could significantly alter revenue generation for a small business. Read on to better understand the risks posed by data loss and what elements small businesses need to include in their disaster recovery plans.
Top risks posed by data loss
Given advances in business software, your business likely relies on cloud-based technology to run your day-to-day operations. If one of these services went down, your business could be crippled – unable to process sales, offer products or services online, connect your order collection efforts to your order fulfillment operations, or access your employee payroll to log work hours.
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Your data could become permanently lost after an outage or error. In its 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon found that small data breaches (fewer than 100 files lost) can cost businesses $18,120 to $35,730. That's no small line item, and that doesn't even cover larger data breaches. Furthermore, according to the National Archives and Records Administration, more than 90 percent of companies that experience at least seven days of data center downtime go out of business within a year.
As business increasingly moves online and software helps companies process customer preferences and purchase history, your small business can now capture more customer information and financial data than ever before. This data, including your business's own financials, is of major interest to computer hackers. Hacking skills are becoming more common, and hacking incidents are beginning to affect big and small businesses alike. Hackers breached more than 50 percent of America's 28 million small businesses, according to the 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity Report. A hacker could not only steal your financial or customer data, but also delete information en masse to cover their tracks. This could cause your business serious operational challenges, especially regarding accounting and tax payments.
Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards and other extreme storms can cause data centers or online services to experience downtime as well. Locally stored files, such as those on servers or hard drives, can easily be wiped out due to an electrical surge from a storm, fire, water damage, or even just being dropped or crushed.
Finally, the loss or theft of your customers' data could put your business at risk for lawsuits and fines. For bigger businesses, data loss that leads to significant decreases in company value or stock can result in shareholder lawsuits. Be sure to note if any of your business or vendor contracts contain clauses that relate to data protection requirements.
Important elements of a disaster recovery plan
Leverage cloud services. Storing data in the cloud and leveraging cloud-based programs can help businesses resolve an issue four times faster than businesses using local files or storage. Cloud-stored data is not subject to common data loss or damage causes like electrical surges, water damage, fire, or sheer damage such as dropping or crushing a hard drive.
Have backup storage. Even data stored in the cloud should have a backup storage plan should your servers or your hosting company's servers experience outages or attacks. Your business's data should have a copy stored on an additional server, ideally also in the cloud.
Set expectations.A survey of IT professionals found that having expectations set by management and official security standards helped them pursue improvements and upgrades necessary for effective disaster recovery capabilities.
Update software and technology. Old computers crash, old servers fizzle out, and outdated software is significantly more susceptible to hacking than newer models. Work with your IT team to ensure your systems and processes are up to date. Keep the ROI of data loss prevention in mind when signing up on the expense forms – it's worth it!