Preparing your data for disaster

November 2012 Security Services & Risk Management

We are in the information age and information has become a critical enabler in corporations and SMEs alike. The effect of any information loss is at best cumbersome and time consuming, and at worst disastrous.

Globally, 80% of companies base their business on data they cannot survive without. 93% of organisations that have lost their data for more than 10 days, filed for bankruptcy within one year of this data loss. Information availability and accessibility is clearly not a simple issue and in fact assures your businesses' survival.

Not all information sits on a drive somewhere either, information is still recorded, used and stored, even in this digital age, on paper, and other formats other than on hard drives and in the cloud. It is also dispersed throughout many locations across an organisation; it is sometimes centralised, or stored at branches, on staff laptops and on servers.

Data is very rarely properly organised, secured and available, mostly because it is a complex and expensive issue to address. However, the simple effect thereof can be seen in your finance department which needs access to both their digital and paper records in order to bill clients. Without this your organisation cannot invoice and generate revenue. This example applies almost universally to all organisations.

The need to have a definite plan to assure your information is emphasised by the worldwide trend of corporate governance legislation and guidelines. South Africa’s King III, for example, highlights the fiduciary responsibility that company directors have in procuring the resources and systems to ensure good internal control, which would include the management of information.

These guidelines may have wide interpretation, but their intent is for company leadership to take accountability for the securing of their information and mitigate the economic risks inherent in operating a business in the world today due to our reliance on instant information.

The application of these guidelines to your company is still in your hands and is specific to your unique needs. Different sets of data have differing value and importance, which in turn dictates the means and manner of data retention, security and availability.

Broadly speaking however there are four components* to address in order to assure your data:

* Media Storage and Management is the backing up of information onto physical storage media such as tapes or disks, and the transporting and storage thereof at a secure site.

* Digital, On Line and Cloud Storage is the digital backup and securing of your data, whether on servers or desktops, to local or remote servers, that are accessible from any location.

* Records Management encompasses the indexing and storage of physical documents locally or at a secure site and includes the digitising of this information and making this available either on line (locally or in the cloud), or on tape or disk.

* Disaster Recovery (DR) Services include the process of planning for disasters which would address the access to physical infrastructure other than your own if a disaster occurs, at a DR site with the availability of your own data and systems via a range of data recovery and data replication services.

There may well be other unique factors to be addressed in your organisation, but each one of the above has some application, alone or in conjunction with others, in assuring your organisation’s survival.

What is certain however, is that we rely heavily on almost instant access to our information. Without a well-considered plan to secure, backup and make available your business data, even a minor outage or data loss could spell disaster for your company, and perhaps even mean the end of it.

* This model was developed by Backup Storage Facilities. BSF was a founding service provider of the DR industry in South Africa 27 years ago and today is the leader in data assurance services. BSF operates nationally and can be contacted at +27 (0)87 806 1510, and

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