How Important is Your Data?

how-important-is-your-data

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the book Mining New Gold – Managing Your Business Data by Penny, Jeffrey and Gillian Garbus which can be purchased here.

Your data is indispensable. Even if you undermine how crucial it is to adequately protect it, consider this: Statistically, 65% of companies that suffer catastrophic data losses end up closing their doors.

This means that if you value your company, you better prioritize your data.

“What would happen if I lost all my data tomorrow?”

Let’s picture three different scenarios as an answer to this question:

1. If you think that you can simply move on, that not much would happen to your company or clients, you have probably not really thought thoroughly about the consequences.

2. If your answer is “I have backups, redundant systems, proper restore procedures, and my team has a full disaster recovery process in place, and has practiced and evaluated these procedures on a timely basis” then you not only have recognized value of your data, you understand the role of data in today’s marketplace.

3. If, on the other hand, the answer to that question hurls you into a panic, stop wasting time worrying and actually do something about it.

The perils of not having an adequate database strategy

We once worked with a medical insurance provider company that found they had a corrupted database and no restorable backups newer than six months old.
To add insult to injury, these backups had been corrupted before anyone noticed the issues. Had we not managed to recover data from the corrupted database, 4,000 workers would have been looking for employment elsewhere that week.

Before we were able to resolve the issue, our client spent two weeks praying the data could be recovered. Not only was this a matter of keeping their doors open as a business, but due to the nature of their industry, it was a matter of saving patients’ lives as well.

Are you in compliance with laws regulating database protection?

The example above perfectly illustrates how in this day and age, no one can afford to be cavalier about protecting their database. Even if it doesn’t mean much to you because your business is not as sensitive as having to save people’s lives, there are likely laws and regulations you have to comply with. The tragedy of data loss may not end when you close your doors. Lawsuits and regulatory agencies can make your life a living nightmare if you fail to understand, develop, and follow processes that protect regulated data.

Sometimes, being out of compliance means you are not following industry-standard, best-business practices. This may be as simple as making sure the environment is being watched for breaches, capacity issues, and being held in compliance with software and hardware vendors.

Here’s another example: We had a new medical provider who didn’t realize that by failing to have proper monitoring and maintenance strategies, they could be fined for not following Healthcare Privacy and Portability Act procedures. Said Act regulates requirements to ensure data is protected through professional and proper data management. The jobs they needed to set up were successful backup processes, database integrity and capacity checks, and server availability, or heartbeat checks. Once these jobs were set up, they were in line with regulations. Processes required by HIPAA guidelines were immediately implemented, and within 24 hours, the environment was fully compliant.

There was also a small startup that knew HIPAA compliance meant having proper security protocols, including logins, passwords, roles, hiding private data when not needed by the user, backing up databases, and providing proper reporting to regulators.

What they did not know was that they were out of compliance because they did not have a maintenance plan designed and put in place. The startup also didn’t have the recommended operating system and database version patches for security put in place by specific software vendors. They simply didn’t have time nor experience to do all this work.

If you think you can’t afford to buy experience, lease it; because what you truly can’t afford is to either go out of business or to be involved in legal troubles due to something that’s so preventable.

Summary

Always evaluate data. Consider what its loss would mean to your business and prioritize building a plan to protect it.
Remember, the vast majority of companies that suffer a catastrophic data loss will close their doors. So always have these questions at the forefront of your mind:

  • What would happen if you lost your data?
  • How long would it take to recover this information?
  • Is it even possible to rebuild it?
  • What would it take to rebuild your Outlook contacts?
  • What if tomorrow your Outlook file was corrupted and you had to rebuild data from scratch?

Multiply those concerns into millions of rows of data sitting in your databases and do something to protect it, today. You can’t afford not to.

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