A company’s data can be one of its most valuable assets, but a shocking number of businesses lack a defined data management plan. Even fewer have a well-articulated data protection strategy, designed to guard against dangers such as data theft, data corruption and data breaches.
But do you really need a data protection plan? And, if so, what does that approach look like?
The Importance of a Data Protection Strategy
If your company has data, you should have a data management strategy in place. This is especially important for organizations that are required to maintain compliance with regulatory measures or privacy laws — like the healthcare industry and the financial sector, amongst others.
To understand the importance of a data protection plan, you need to understand the risk. Consider these figures.
- 45% of companies experienced a data breach in the past year, according to a 2021 report by Thales.
- 70% of malware payloads are ransomware.
- The average cost of a data breach in 2021 was $4.24 million, reflecting a 10% rise over the 2019 figure, according to a study by IBM.
- Publicly-traded companies that suffer a data breach underperform by an average of 15% over the three-year span following the breach.
- 28% of data breaches involve a small business.
- 60% of data breaches take weeks to discover.
- 2021 saw a 68% year-over-year rise in data breaches, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s annual report.
- The worldwide cost of cyber crimes topped $6 billion in 2021.
Statistics such as these underscore the data protection risks that businesses face. The potential damage that can arise from a data breach or corruption incident is significant. There are the financial losses that arise from the missing data in cases of ransomware or data corruption. This also represents the loss of valuable information that can be used for data-driven decision-making. There may be damage to a company’s reputation too, as customers or clients get understandably upset that their data was disclosed.
Data protection and compliance go hand-in-hand for many organizations. For instance, companies in the healthcare sector must adhere to extremely strict guidelines when it comes to data handling so they remain in compliance with HIPAA regulations.
What Are the Most Common Data Protection Threats?
A company’s data faces no shortage of threats. Data breaches, data theft, data corruption and data loss, ransomware — the list of potential pitfalls goes on and on. Here is a look at some of the most common data threats that a protection plan should consider.
- Ransomware – Ransomware is used to steal your data, which is subsequently encrypted by the cybercriminal; they then demand a ransom to decrypt the information. Ransomware can be installed via a link click, an app or other software install.
- Data corruption and data loss – There are a number of different events that can lead to the corruption or complete loss of your data. The cause can range from human error to technical glitches.
- Data privacy breaches – Data privacy breaches arise when data is stolen, sold or otherwise disclosed — often, publicly.
How Do You Develop a Data Protection Plan?
Creating a data protection plan requires a comprehensive look at your data sources and data storage architecture.
Firstly, you’ll need to identify all of your data sources — a task that will require input from representatives of virtually all of an organization’s departments and divisions. Data flows must be mapped to make it clear how data is moving throughout your system, where (and how) it is being accessed and where it is being stored.
Next, you must identify vulnerabilities, which should be examined during the three states.
- In-transit – End-to-end encryption should be used to protect your data while it’s in transit from one location to another.
- In-use – This is when your data is most vulnerable, after it has been decrypted.
- At-rest – Data should be encrypted while it’s at rest in your database.
Your tech team will need to be involved in the evaluation process. Once you have identified your vulnerabilities from a technical perspective, you can devise a strategy for implementing measures to protect your data and its integrity.
A data protection plan should also address user access. The data protection best practice concerning users is to provide each individual with the minimum amount of access required to perform their duties. An individual should not have access to data that they do not need to access in order to fulfill their role.
The Importance of Data Backups
The issue of data backup is critical, making this an important point to address in a company’s data protection plan. For instance, a data backup can render a ransomware demand irrelevant because it’s all backed up! The same is true of data corruption; if there is a backup in place, you are well-positioned to recover and restore your data.
Cloud-based data backup offers an affordable, scalable option that can work for companies of all sizes. But it is also prudent to capture a periodic secondary backup that can be stored offline. This protects it from any and all threats that exist online.
Your ideal data backup frequency can be determined by how often your data undergoes changes, additions or updates. A company that has thousands of customers and sees several purchases per minute will likely want to sync its backup data every few minutes, whereas a business that updates or adds to its data stores a few times every hour may only need to sync its backups on an hourly basis.
Ready to Create Your Data Management Strategy?
Developing a data protection strategy requires identifying vulnerabilities, implementing measures to protect your data and ensuring you have backups in place. This will provide peace of mind, while protecting what could be one of your company’s most valuable assets.
At 7T, our development team works with company leaders who are seeking to solve problems and drive ROI through digital transformation. This includes consulting and the development of data protection strategies, along with data management solutions. As an innovative Dallas software and mobile app development company, 7T offers collaborative, multi-phased software development services to clients in all business sectors.