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Data loss: 5 mistakes and how to avoid them

Two-thirds of UK businesses are putting their data at risk. Don’t be one of them.

Losing data doesn’t just mean blushes in your IT department: it could damage trust in your business forever and costs organisations £2.2m every year. Even some of the largest companies and those in the public eye like LinkedIn and Facebook have experienced data loss, so nobody is immune. These are some of the most common mistakes businesses make.

Mistake 1: Staff not trained in data protection

Does everyone know how to create a secure password, where to save a document, how to spot a suspicious email and how to share files securely? Are you sure? Most data loss is down to the carelessness of staff, not malicious hackers.

Employees are also sharing all sorts of information on social media. Some of it is harmless and irrelevant, but they may be unintentionally sharing sensitive information.

Prevent it: Train everyone on how to protect data online and only give staff the minimum amount of access they need to do their jobs. You could also look into creating a social media policy, outlining exactly what sort of information can be shared publicly.

Mistake 2: Unsecure passwords

The most popular password of choice is….you guessed it: password. Hackers are getting more and more adept at cracking passwords, as LinkedIn recently found out. But some people make it easy for them to hack into accounts, putting confidential data at risk.

Prevent it: Protect your customers by making sure your passwords have to contain a mixture of letters and numbers, be a certain length or even include upper and lower cases.

Mistake 3: Backing up data on a USB stick

Flexible working, meetings and shuffling between several offices means that we sometimes need to access files from multiple computers. But storing data on a USB stick is not the answer.

Too many companies have lost valuable data when a USB stick has gone missing. If the US secret service can lose tapes containing sensitive information about homeland security on the underground, anyone is capable of losing something.

Prevent it: Having a secure, central server to host internal files is a better option for sharing and storing information. It’s not fool proof, though: hackers can still get into your servers if they find a hole somewhere.

A data centre can help you store data remotely and access or share it from any computer, anywhere.

Cloud computing is also changing the way we store data. A joint survey by we conducted with the British Chambers of Commerce found that 72% of organisations agreed that cloud computing made them more efficient. It will free you up to access files from home, on the train — wherever you’re working.

If you’ve ever lost work you’ve been slaving over for hours, you’ll know the value of backing data up. Don’t learn the hard way: always create a safety net in case you do lose something. And if the worst case scenario does happen, you should have plans in place to help you recover any missing information.

Mistake 4: Allowing everyone to have access to the servers, on any device

Employees are increasing working on tablets and mobiles, and want to bring their own device into work. This is a good thing; it makes your workforce more adaptive and productive. But the danger is that too many people are accessing data from unsecure devices, making leaks more likely.

Prevent it: Our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative encourages businesses to let staff work using their own computers. We just say that you should restrict who has full access and pick which devices have access to certain networks. Our secure data service makes all the data on your servers available virtually in a secure way.

Mistake 5: Forgetting about firewalls

There are a host of sophisticated spyware and adware programs that can track everything you do on your commuter without you even realising it. They’re then free to use any information or passwords they find.

Prevent it: If you don’t already, make sure there is anti-virus software installed on everyone’s computer. Using firewalls to limit who has access to your internal servers is a step you can’t afford to skip.

There is never any guarantee that you won’t lose data, however stringent you are. But by doing the above, you should give yourself a buffer against some of the more serious effects of data loss.

What are you doing to protect your data? Have you had the misfortune of losing something you were working on? Let us know in the comments section below.

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