Data security: The cost of complacency

According to a survey commissioned by Shred-it earlier this year, data security is not one of the top concerns of SMEs. In fact, 59.8% do not believe that data loss will affect their business.

Most concerning is that these business owners perhaps do not understand that loss of data could have difficult consequences for their company. The loss for a large company could stretch into millions of pounds, while small businesses have been known to go bankrupt or suffer severe financial losses which can jeopardise their future
success. Despite these impending consequences it is evident that too many enterprises are complacent when it comes to data security. Consequently, they are still not implementing the appropriate procedures to protect their confidential data stored on backup mediums.

It is increasingly apparent that businesses require new solutions to protect their corporate data. With so many examples of data loss from tape backups, enterprises need higher levels of security, automation, recovery and scalability to keep their data safe. This has been highlighted by several incidents that have occurred within the last 12 months, in which unencrypted tape backups have been lost or stolen.

Let’s consider, for example, the loss of two unencrypted backup tapes containing 1.4 million customers’ personal records at a Yorkshire-based finance company, Cattles Limited in late November 2011. The company in question specialises in personal loans and debt recovery, therefore dealing with a huge amount of sensitive data. This particular incident poses this particular question: why are so many companies still backing up data onto tapes without encryption, instead of using other, more secure methods, such as encrypted online backup services?

Backup tapes are also an easy target for thieves as the Cord Blood Registry discovered. The San Francisco based company were victims of data theft when unencrypted data storage tapes and a laptop were stolen from an employee’s car in December 2010. This lead to the company having to notify 300,000 people that their data may have fallen into the wrong hands. This again should serve as a warning to other businesses that are still reliant on unencrypted tape backups.

Following the theft of an unencrypted laptop containing the names, addresses, dates of birth and schools attended by 100 young people in October 2011, Newcastle council were criticised by Sally-Anne Poole, acting head of enforcement at the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), for not using encrypted devices to secure their data.

“Encryption is a basic procedure and an inexpensive way to ensure that information is kept secure. But, to their detriment, not enough data handlers are making use of it,” she said.

Many online backup solutions use encryptions as standard while transmitting the customer’s data over a secure connection, effectively eliminating the chance of both theft and interception. This has become an industry standard for online backup solutions. Although tape backup providers sometimes use encryption, there is still the possibility of the tapes themselves being lost or incorrectly archived during transport. This then makes restores difficult if not impossible. By nature, many online backup solutions eradicate are specifically built to mitigate these difficulties, sometimes completely, so recoverability can always be depended upon.

Is your backup data adequately protected?

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