How to prevent the loss of business data.

Breaches, theft, and disasters are unfortunate facts of life. Be ready for data catastrophes if they happen, and discover how to bounce back.      

A businessperson on their laptop reviewing ways to prevent data loss

No storage system is perfect.

 

Data systems can fail. Natural disasters can wipe out storage facilities, malware can compromise files, and the 2021 Webroot Threat Report found that roughly half of all PCs are infected at some point. Any of these problems can mean lost profits, damage to reputation, or worse. According to IBM, the average total cost of data theft was 4.24 million USD throughout 17 different countries and regions, up from 3.86 million in 2020. That can sound scary, but you can prepare yourself for breaches.

       

Thankfully, with the right tools, you can do your part to protect your company’s digital assets.

 

 

Why it’s important to keep files safe.

 

Mitigating risk is essential for every business, and the consequences of losing important business files are no exception. They include:

 

  • Profit loss: Lost data often means new costs or lost money. That includes recovery costs and even employee severance pay, if negligence or human error played a part.

  • Reputation damage: A high-profile data breach can put your brand in the news for all the wrong reasons.

  • Productivity disruption: Your time is valuable, and lost business data could take days to weeks to restore.

  • Business failure: In the worst-case scenario, lost data could result in the closure of your business.     
A businessperson reviewing the security of their business data

Common causes of business data loss.

 

Identifying the cause of your company’s data loss is the first step to recovering from it:

 

 

Malware and viruses

 

Malware and viruses are a serious threat to businesses, governments, and people. These cybersecurity threats take many forms, including email scams. According to the University at Buffalo, spam emails citing student job offers are a recent version of this threat, but they can look like almost anything.

 

Businesses can face similar encounters with fake emails from people claiming to be “Jim from accounting” asking for a charitable donation. Or emails that spoof the look and feel of a trusted provider like Google, only to direct users to a fraudulent page that steals their information. This practice is known as phishing.

       

To protect against lost or stolen data, organizations need to train their members to identify probable phishing scams, and never provide personal or professional information via suspicious emails.

 

 

Data theft

 

Lax security can lead to stolen data. And where these attacks happen is evolving — mobile phones are the new target for data theft. Businesses that allow employees to hold information on their phones or other devices, whether company or personal, may be putting their data in jeopardy.

 

 

Software upgrades and bugs

 

Each upgrade, while essential to keep up with the speed of business, has the potential for data loss. Older file formats might not be supported by newer versions of software. Troublesome new bugs are always potential problems with updates and improvements too.

 

Keep files backed up before an upgrade to mitigate issues that come from keeping your apps up to date.

 

 

Hardware failure and issues

 

Older machines are at greater risk for data loss, but they’re not the only way hardware fails. Overheating is a common hazard for computers, and spilled cups of coffee can sometimes mean the loss of data on a given device. Computers can be fragile. Back them up so their data can stay resilient.

 

 

Natural disasters and power outages

 

Lightning strikes, fires, and floods can destroy both physical and digital infrastructure. Anything that can wipe out your office space can also wipe out your data. Back up your info so earthquakes don’t cause seismic shifts to your revenue stream.

 

 

Human error

 

Mistakes are inevitable, and every business should take into consideration the cost of human error. As always, back up your files. Don’t lose a whole quarter’s worth of data because someone clicked the wrong button.

 

In all of these instances, the key is to make your storage systems robust enough that a single bad event can’t wipe them out. It’s impossible to predict whether a natural disaster, cyber attack, or unforseen bug will compromise your data. But it’s reasonable to say that at some point something will. Be ready when it happens, so if you do lose data, you don’t lose it all, and you can bounce back quickly.       

Business colleagues reviewing business data together

How to prevent digital loss.

 

Regular data backups, heightened security systems, and properly formatted documents can make all the difference for enhanced data integrity.

 

 

Back up your data regularly.

 

Saving multiple copies of your data should be a regular part of your business’s routine. There are many ways to do this:

 

  • External hard drives: Storing data on an external hard drive is a basic, inexpensive, and easy way to back up data. However, external devices need to be backed up manually, and can be lost or damaged easily.

  • Cloud solutions: Cloud backups are a viable solution for any size business. Many vendors offer Backup as a Service (BaaS) solutions, which allow you to seamlessly store your data on either a public or private cloud.
           
  • Proprietary solutions: Proprietary hardware and software solutions are also available for backing up small and large amounts of data. These solutions are best for businesses that wish to back up only certain systems or data, or wish to have greater management of the backup process.

  

 

Use only trusted software.

 

Make sure all of your applications are vetted, safe, and secure. It’s easy to mistake malware or spyware for a legitimate software solution. Use applications only from known, trusted parties.

       

Certain computer systems have embedded technologies designed to ensure that only trusted software applications run on your device, such as the macOS Gatekeeper.

       

 

Increase data security.

 

Your business must know what data to protect, who should have access to it, and what kind of protections each file will have. Real-time analytics are a useful tool to track data breaches when they happen, and a robust and clear security plan is essential for detecting and preventing data security threats.

 

 

Use the right file types.

 

File types and format matter for data security. PDFs come with password protection and the inability to edit them without an external tool.

       

Converting an Excel, Word, or PowerPoint to a PDF can help avoid accidental or intentional document tampering, plus it can cut down on file size so you can save even more secure files. Document management tools can compress PDF files for even easier storage.

 

 

Keep files in several places.

 

Diversify where you store your business files. The more locations you keep files, the more opportunities you have to recover lost data, if one of those locations is ever compromised, be it hard copies or cloud services, you nearly always have backups. You need a strategy for data storage and recovery. The last thing a business wants is to lose critical data.

       

Discover more ways that Acrobat can help protect your business while making work and collaboration faster, easier, and more productive.

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