The essential components of a solid cybersecurity strategy

Businesses of every size and industry are vulnerable to cyber threats. Having a strong cybersecurity strategy in place to defend your organization against these threats, and recover quickly to avoid downtime, is an absolute must when it comes to the success of your business. Security should be one of the top priorities of senior management.

With that in mind, we have designed this simple guide to help you understand the primary threats that your business may face, as well as the solutions that are available as part of a solid cybersecurity strategy, including:

  • Cybersecurity threats defined
  • Types of Cybersecurity
    1. Critical infrastructure
    2. Cloud security
    3. Internet of Things (IoT)
    4. Network security
    5. Ongoing employee training
computer attack icon

Cybersecurity threats defined

Social Engineering – The use of deceptive methods to manipulate others into giving up personal information, data, or money.

Spyware – A type of malware that spies on your internet usage and personal information and then transmits the information to a third party for malicious purposes.

Ransomware – A type of malicious software (malware) that takes over your computer, locking it or stealing your data. It holds your computer or data hostage until a ransom is paid.

Adware – A type of malware that covers your screen or browser with pop-up ads. This software is usually unknowingly downloaded by the user when they download something else for free, such as a game.

Phishing – The practice of claiming to be a trusted person or a well-known institution in an attempt to collect personal information or money, or in an attempt to get the user to install malware. Phishing is an example of a specific type of social engineering.

Computer virus – A type of malware that replicates itself by inserting its own code into the code of other programs. Viruses can spread across networks causing rampant damage to businesses.

Data breach – An incident where data is stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or consent of the system’s owner. Data breaches may be the result of intentional or unintentional actions by employees or deliberate, malicious attacks by outsiders.

Advanced persistent threat – If you are a larger enterprise organization, you may be at risk of an advanced persistent attack (APT). APTs typically affect organizations in sectors such as national defense, finance, and manufacturing. Their goal is to gain a competitive edge, steal information or intellectual property, etc over a longer time period than just a single breach or attack.

Types of cybersecurity

In order to address and prevent the threats listed above, it is necessary to understand that cybersecurity is not one thing, but a broad suite of tools and practices. The following are the main five components that make up the broader whole of cybersecurity.

1

Critical infrastructure

Critical infrastructure involves all of the cybersystems that society relies on, such as the electrical grid, traffic lights, water plants, national security, hospitals, and telecommunications.

If your organization is responsible for or reliant upon critical infrastructure it is vital to understand vulnerabilities and protect against them. Other organizations consider how an attack on critical infrastructures might affect them when writing and evaluating backup and disaster recovery (BDR) and business continuity (BC) plans.

2

Cloud security

As more businesses move to the Cloud, it is important not to overlook Cloud security. Cloud providers offer a range of security tools to help organizations better secure their data. One of the benefits of using the Cloud is having your data backed up to multiple locations. You also benefit from having a team of professionals on your side to help manage your Cloud security.

3

Internet of things (IoT)

Internet of Things refers to the wide network of connected devices, often the ones we don’t think of as being smart, such as printers, appliances, cameras, televisions, and more, that connect to the internet. IoT devices often include little or no security, and offer limited or no security patching, making them a security risk. With more IoT devices getting hacked, and few resolutions available, for now, it is necessary to carefully consider what devices are on the network (and why!) to avoid networking devices unnecessarily and increasing your risk profile.

4

Network security

Proactive network security is an essential element of any organization’s cybersecurity. Network security guards against malicious attacks, such as those listed above. Network security often includes the following:

  • A firewall to monitor and control network traffic.
  • Antivirus/antimalware software
  • Behavioral analytics to detect abnormal network behavior
  • Access control to limit who has control to what parts of the networ
5

Ongoing employee training

The final piece of cybersecurity is employee education. Employees are a vital part of your organization and your ability to keep your organization cyber secure. Employees are often the first target of cybercrime as they are easily accessed via email and social engineering attacks. As such, your employees should feel confident in their ability to recognize and respond to cyber threats. Employees should receive regular education regarding:

  • Safe email usage and web browsing
  • Unauthorized software (“Shadow IT”)
  • How to create strong, unique passwords
  • Understanding cyber threats
  • Understanding social engineering
  • Personal device use and any Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies

The quick guide to business continuity

There are some things in business you can predict with accuracy, but there’s a lot that’s anything but predictable. For example, you have no way of knowing when a natural disaster, software misfire or simple power outage will strike.

It’s not a comfortable feeling, thinking that your company’s fate is out of your control.

The good news is that you don’t have to be out of control, even when everything around you feels like chaos. Not if you have a plan. Specifically, a business continuity plan.

Read on to learn more about business continuity plans: what they are, why they’re so essential, and how to create one for your business.

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan is your plan for keeping your business productive, even when there are significant obstacles in your way. In other words, it’s a way of preparing for unforeseen circumstances (like natural disasters and cybersecurity breaches) that critically threaten your company’s efficiency and bottom line.

Before you wave off the idea of disaster striking, keep in mind that “disasters” can take many different forms:

  • As mentioned before, there are natural disasters, like earthquakes, fires, tornados, hurricanes, snowstorms and floods
  • You should also be prepared for hardware issues, like hardware failure
  • Then there are minor emergencies, like a power outage, inclement weather days and temporary loss of internet connectivity
  • And finally, a big one—cybersecurity-related issues, like ransomware

Their common element is simple. Any of these events can take your network offline and leave your staff without the tools you rely on day after day.

When that happens, whether it’s for a few hours or a few weeks, what will you do? How will you stay in touch with your employees and customers? What critical processes will you need to keep online, no matter what, for the sake of the company’s stability? For that matter, what’s the first thing you would do in the wake of a true disaster?

The answers to those questions form the basis of your business continuity plan.

Why is business continuity so important?

Business continuity matters because you don’t have a bottomless bank account. When a disaster sidelines your business, you can only afford to be out of the game for so long before it will do you in.

We know. That sounds dramatic. And we’re not ones to use scare tactics at all, but the stakes really are that high. Without a business continuity plan, you’re risking your company’s entire future.

You can’t stop disasters from happening, you can prepare for the worst, which dramatically increases your chances of survival if something goes wrong.

MCA team

Building your own business continuity plan

The best advice we can give here is to seek the consultation of a business continuity expert. This is complex stuff. A thorough strategy really does warrant professional help.

However, anyone can begin thinking about risk and making plans for the future. Plus, we know a lot of small businesses simply don’t have the funds to hire a consultant. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know to create a basic business continuity plan.

Identify your assets

A lot of small business owners are tempted to start the process by thinking about everything that can go wrong. You might find yourself drawn specifically to thinking about how to recover from a fire or flood, for instance.

That’s generally only a good idea if you already know your business is facing an imminent risk. If, for example, there’s a hurricane bearing down on your data center.

Otherwise, it’s better to think of business continuity not in terms of possible risks, but in terms of what you might lose and how it would impact productivity.

What assets does your company have? What purpose does each device, vendor, key employee, location, and piece of hardware have within your organization? And what solutions do you rely on for communication and what will you do if those systems go down?

You can’t understand or prepare for every risk your company could possibly face. But you can start thinking about things you might lose and how you’d overcome the resulting challenges.

Think about downtime

Next, consider what’s absolutely necessary for your business to continue operations and start mapping out contingency plans for keeping those processes online.

We’ll give you a basic example. Let’s say you use email and smartphone for most of your internal communication. What will you do if your email server is offline and the cell phone towers are down? What’s your backup plan for communication?

Think through every detail. Who takes the lead on re-establishing communication? Do you start by reaching out to employees or customers? What will you coach employees to tell customers? And does everyone in your organization know this plan? (Because they should.)

All of that will serve to shorten the length overall downtime and minimize its impact.

MCA data center

Implement preventative controls

Preventative controls help you avoid disasters. They’re not failsafe, but they do decrease your risk.

For instance, back up your business data regularly. That way, a disastrous hardware or software failure becomes an inconvenience (you have to restore the most recent backup) rather than a catastrophe (you lose a significant amount of data).

Preventative measures, like regular on and off-site data backups, represent an investment of time and money. Lower expenses where you can, but do not cut corners. Trust us. You’ll be glad you were on top of prevention if and when you need it.

Map out your recovery strategy

Finally, map out about your overall recovery strategy. Document as much as you can. Train your staff. And make sure there are copies of the plan in places where people can easily get to them.

Business continuity is useless if everyone doesn’t know the plan and isn’t prepared. Keeping everyone in the loop is absolutely critical. In fact, just the exercise of mapping your plan out will likely draw your attention to weak points in the plan.

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Final thoughts

Business continuity plans help you recover from a disaster and preserve your company’s long-term viability.

Taking the time to carefully assess your company’s assets, determine what’s critical, mitigate your risk, and figure out how to get key assets back online will save you when it counts. If you can afford it, this is definitely an area where hiring a pro is recommended. But if you can’t, don’t neglect business continuity. Do what you can to prepare your company.

7 Things You Should do Before You Contact IT Support

Something’s wrong with your computer, laptop, tablet or phone. It’s not an uncommon situation, with one study finding that the average employee loses a lot of time to IT-related issues. Whether it’s a mysterious error message, an intermittent blue screen, or routine freezing and hanging, the first instinct is to pick up the phone and call your IT support desk.

That is, of course, the right thing to do. Your IT help desk has the knowledge and skills to help resolve almost any IT-related issue… but before you make that call, there are some things you may wish to try that could help instantly resolve your problem, and which will, in any event, make the process of getting help for your problem faster and smoother.

Try basic troubleshooting

For many tech-related problems, there are a few steps you can take yourself that will resolve the vast majority of problems. Let’s start with one you’ve probably already heard of: turn your computer off and turn it back on again. It may sound basic, but it really does resolve a lot of problems – by some estimates more than half of reported IT-related issues can be resolved in this way.

If, on the other hand, a piece of hardware doesn’t seem to be working as it should (or if your computer appears completely unresponsive) it’s worth making sure it’s plugged in correctly. Ensure that it hasn’t been unplugged since last you used it and that all cables are firmly in place.

2

Run a Google search

For minor issues, a quick Google search can often work wonders. Some problems arise because you may accidentally have changed a setting or moved a vital file. A Google search for a description of your problem or any error message you’ve received can help resolve the problem instantly.

While this is a great solution to some problems, unless you’re able to find a simple and well-explained fix that you can fully understand, it’s still worth contacting IT support – it’s their job to monitor issues and maintain the health and efficiency of devices in your workplace. A Google search is only an appropriate way to tackle relatively minor errors.

3

Run a virus scan

Your computer should be equipped with anti-virus software. If you’re still able to, it’s a good idea to run a full scan of your system. You should have regular scans scheduled as part of routine maintenance, but running a scan when you encounter a problem can catch anything that has struck in the hours since the last scan.

Some anti-virus software will be able to quarantine and remove threats on its own. If it can’t, IT services will nonetheless find the information and logs it’s able to provide useful in neutralizing the threat.

4

Save error messages

By this point in the list you’ve run through some basic troubleshooting measures and your problem still hasn’t been resolved. It’s time to put in a call to your IT help desk. Before you do, however, there’s some information you can gather to help get your issue resolved quickly, and get back on track as soon as possible.

If you get an error message, for example, make a note of exactly what it says. Although it may sound like nonsense to you, many error messages contain a lot of information which an IT professional can use to help diagnose a problem.

5

Make a note of what happened

While your memory is still fresh, try to map out what lead to the issue. Were you updating something? Were you using a particular piece of software? Did you notice anything strange in the hours leading up to the issue, such as your device running slowly, or making system noises? The more information you’re able to provide, the easier it’ll be for the IT helpdesk to make a clean and clear diagnosis, and the quicker you’ll get to a solution.

6

Can you recreate the issue?

Does the problem occur on a regular basis? And if so, can you pinpoint what it is that makes it happen? Knowing that a problem occurs when you try to run a certain piece of software, or when you try to shut down your computer, for example, can really help narrow down the field of possible issues, and get you to a prompt solution.

7

What are you working with?

Finally, it’s extremely useful to know what machine, what operating system and what software you’re working with. Some devices have this printed on their casing, or on a sticker, while others will provide it under the heading of “About”. If you’re able to, make a note of this information before placing your call. Knowing how up to date the hardware and software can be instrumental in resolving IT issues.

Conclusion

It’s never fun having to deal with IT problems, but by following these steps you can resolve some simple issues for yourself, and ensure that when you do have to call your IT help desk, they can get you to a solution quickly and easily. With luck, you can be back at work within minutes rather than hours.

6 steps to take before choosing the right cloud solution for your business

More businesses have been making the most of cloud solutions and enjoying the competitive edge that comes with it. The great thing about cloud computing is that is can be tweaked and altered almost constantly to quickly meet the changes in an organization, positioning itself as a powerful tool for flexibility and scalability. So what exactly can the cloud do for you and your business?

Not surprisingly, there are still lots of businesses that are unsure about the cloud model. As with most things (technology in particular), you would be hard pressed to find a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model. While the immediate benefits of cloud computing seem pretty straightforward, it needs a little know-how and digging to outsource your IT and find the right solution for your needs. Which is the right approach? How do you choose an appropriate cloud strategy for your IT needs? Which is better, public or private?

The first thing to know about the Cloud is that you have two options to store your data: a public cloud or a private cloud.

Private cloud

Also known as an enterprise or internal cloud, a private cloud is built exclusively for your business. Private clouds also rely on a company’s intranet or hosted center, meaning that your data is protected by a firewall. It provides all the efficiency of a public cloud but with a greater focus on control of management and security. Larger companies or those with strictly confidential data and regulation tend to opt for a private cloud for this reason. However, for some, having the sole responsibility of management and DIY network maintenance might be a drawback. So although a private cloud offers a considerably higher amount of security, replacing servers and dealing with other maintenance tasks can become costly and time-consuming.

Public cloud

Public clouds offer the same efficiency as private clouds but the main difference is that as a company, you’re not responsible for the management and maintenance of the cloud host. Your cloud provider deals with this, so many companies favor using a public cloud as it takes the stress and time away from testing and deploying new products. Unlike a private cloud, you don’t control the security in this case, a factor which repels some users. But although a public cloud may not share the same stringency as private clouds, data is still kept completely separate from others and it’s rare to see security breaches with public cloud services.

So how do you find the right cloud solution for your business?

1

Develop a project plan

The first step you should take is figuring who will be involved with what. Do you already know who will be responsible for migrating your data to the cloud? How long do you think the project will take? Who will be involved in the decision making process?

2

Cross reference with your data

Finding the right cloud solution for your business means knowing exactly what kinds of files you need to store. Separate your data. For example, if you have overly sensitive data such as financial or health records, you might instantly find that it narrows down the possible solutions, as you would need to prioritize security.

3

Be clear on cloud compliance

Moving to a cloud solution means you need to keep a close eye on how and where your data is stored so that you can stay compliant with federal law and industry regulation. Deciding what to store in-house and what to store on a cloud means that you need to ask the questions before legal asks you. Where is your data going to live? Who is looking after it? Who will be able to see and access it? Is the cloud segregated from other people’s data?

4

Look at your security features

Do some research into the levels of security measures each cloud provider takes to protect your data. A good cloud solution employs data security experts, professionally trained to scope out any high-level cyber threats in real time. Security with a good cloud provider should be predictable and will identify and analyze potential attacks. The most important thing you can do to ensure your data’s security is to make sure your provider offers this as well as multi-factor authentification so you easily access it when you need it via an IP address, device or user.

5

Know how users will need to access files

Before choosing a cloud solution, think about how your staff will need to access any files. Most providers will offer some kind of way for users to access the stored data through their computers. To do this, you’ll need to sync a copy of the entire file structure onto your device, which can take up a huge amount of space and become impractical. Find out what the provider offers in terms of accessing your files.

6

How will your data be backed up?

Make sure the cloud you decide on has a redundant system so that there is always a backup of your files in the unlikely event of a system failure or unforeseen downtime with the cloud company. Having a solid data back up is a crucial aspect of your business. Be sure to be very clear on the disaster recovery plan that the company is offering. Be sure to also find out if they support file revisions in case you need to revisit an earlier version of a file.

 

DIY network maintenance every business owner should know

Managing your network probably isn’t your favorite part of being a business owner. Unfortunately, it’s most likely at the top of the list of things that keep you up at night. In fact, according to the 2018 Small Business Risk Report conducted by Forbes Insights, 94% of businesses face cybersecurity risks.

So while there definitely is reason to be concerned, you can alleviate some of the risks by following a few simple strategies.

94% of businesses face cyber security risks.” Forbes Insights

Provide training

Your employees are your first line of defense against threats. Having everyone trained and involved is vital to keeping your network safe and secure. You can begin by scheduling a company-wide meeting to specifically discuss security and compliance.

Rather than a formal training session, start with a dialog approach that allows everyone to share stories and ask questions. This will enable you to get an understanding of how well-informed your employees are about your current solution and determine how much training will be needed. Then it will be easier to start the project with a clear idea of what to cover first.

Run simple courses

Employee training will make your staff more effective at their jobs (even the little things help a lot!). Training on creating strong passwords, using two-factor authentication, how to recognize phishing scams and routinely run software updates on their computers will help everyone get up to speed quickly. This is an easy way to greatly reduce the probability of cyber attacks due to employee negligence.

Provide transparency and open communication

Employees need to feel comfortable and safe, even if they’ve inadvertently put your network at risk. It’s important that they come to you when something happens so you can deal with it quickly. That way you can execute your data recovery plan as quickly as possible.

Provide tools that enable self-monitoring

Enable your employees to have some control over the safety of their company. By giving them the tools they need and the responsibility to use them, they’ll be more invested in helping you maintain your network security, saving your IT staff time and energy.

Test regularly

Taking an inventory of your network for vulnerabilities can help you nip a potential problem in the bud—or prevent it altogether. By testing for weaknesses when you’re not in the midst of a crisis, you can save money and hours of downtime.

Although testing may seem time-consuming and disruptive, setting a regular schedule should make it a lot more manageable. Determining what can be tested simultaneously, picking low traffic times and staggering systems should make this process less tedious and more efficient.

So rather than blocking off an entire day or days to do it all at once, you can devote a minimum of time over the course of a few days and get the same effect. Of course, consulting with experts is always a good idea, and they can tell you which course of action will work best for your organization.

VPN Monitoring tools

Although a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides encryption to protect your data, testing for leaks weekly will help to discover any problems that could potentially harm your network.

Run a services audit on servers

Over time your servers will be running more services than you need. Clearing these out on a monthly basis will make your network less vulnerable as well as improve their overall performance. Make sure that if you use a hybrid cloud solution that any third party does the same with their servers.

“The key to an effective cybersecurity strategy is regular penetration testing and continuous intrusion detection efforts.”
CIO

Update frequently

When a vulnerability is discovered, companies will issue patches to counteract it. If you’re not keeping everything up-to-date, you could miss out on major bug fixes and face potential risks.

While keeping everything updated has its challenges, software updates can be made with relative ease.

Important things to remember:

Update your OS and software

Updating software doesn’t usually take a lot of time. Some even give you the option to update automatically when it becomes available. You should keep an eye out for any significant changes but most updates mainly consist of minor patches or incremental improvements.

Update your router

Firmware tends to be out of date after only one year so you might have to update the router manually. This will ensure you have the most recent bug fixes and any security updates. If all else fails, you can always just replace your existing router for a new one.

When it comes to your servers and hardware, things can get a little more complicated. That’s not to say that’s it’s difficult. It just might take more time and energy to ensure you have everything you need to keep your network running smoothly.

Update servers

The good news is that typically your servers are less vulnerable to attack. The bad news is that if a cyber attack does occur, it can infect all your other systems. Updating your servers is crucial but it usually requires downtime so plan accordingly.

Update hardware as often as needed

How often you update your hardware is up to you. However, there are risks associated with keeping outdated technology around for too long. Frequent breakdowns and loss of data could hinder employees’ ability to work at peak efficiency. Running an annual assessment at the very least should help you make a determination when to pull the plug, make upgrades or invest in new equipment.

“Most breaches we become aware of are caused by failure to update software components that are known to be vulnerable for months or even years,” René Gielen, Vice President of Apache Struts

Be proactive

Taking steps to ensure that you have protocols in place to prevent attacks before they happen is probably the best way to save yourself some headaches in the future. Although you might be hesitant to spend the money upfront to beef up your security, it will save you money in the long run.

Invest in an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) or Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)

An IDS will notify you of botnets, malware, worms, Trojans and can test for vulnerabilities. An IPS do the same thing but can also be set up to take actions like blocking traffic when a threat is detected.

Fortify your firewall with a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A WAF will protect against remote file intrusion, cross-site scripting and forgery and other threats that could put your customers’ information at risk.

Install antivirus/antimalware

Make sure your servers and computers all have the same software installed (maybe make a central backup on a central server). This will help to avoid conflicts that could lead to gaps in your protection.

“Many businesses remain too defensively-focused in the way they address cyberthreats.”
TechRepublic

Final thoughts on network maintenance

There are always going to be threats to your network. However, taking a proactive approach and putting a plan in place can help to significantly reduce your risk. If you find that you’re having difficulty with any of these points, it might be time to switch around your internal organizational structure.

Once you’ve determined a plan of action, be sure to stick to it. Make a commitment to hold yourself and your team accountable to keep your network safe and secure.

How to pick the right business server for your SMB

No matter whether you’re running an e-commerce store or doing some powerful number-crunching, your small business will eventually grow to the size where you need a business server. With so many options on the market, it can be tough to know how to start your search—especially without the dedicated IT expertise of a larger company.

Whereas desktop computers are intended for only one or two people, businesses servers are designed to support the needs of many users simultaneously. Servers are used for purposes such as backing up data, hosting websites, sharing files and information, and more.

The good news is that buying the right business server for your SMB largely comes down to a few crucial factors. In this article, we’ll discuss the 5 criteria that you should evaluate when you’re in the market for a business server.

1. Speed

Most server vendors give buyers like you the flexibility to choose the number of processors and cores that your server will have. In particular, servers that will use multithreaded applications, such as web servers and database servers, will benefit from having multiple cores.

Both the number of cores and the clock speed of each core (measured in GHz) play a role in how fast your business server will be. If you’re uncertain about the right balance of cores and clock speed to select, speak with the vendor of the software that you plan to run on the server.

2. Storage space

Depending on what you’ll be using the server for, you may wish to upgrade the storage space. If you’ll be using it primarily as a repository for your business data, for example, you’ll need a good deal of storage. On the other hand, a machine that’s intended for use primarily as a file server will need less storage, because it emphasizes data transfer and not data processing.

In general, the amount of storage you’ll need depends on the number of users who will be accessing the server. The good news is that you can usually expand your storage space by adding another hard drive to the server. In this case, you should configure the drives using RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks).

As your business grows, you might anticipate needing substantially more storage than the size of a single server. Consider using cloud hosting, which can scale indefinitely to fit your business needs.

3. Memory

The third and final technical requirement to consider for your server is memory, which is measured in gigabytes (GB). In general, the more memory your server has, the more quickly users will be able to send and receive information. Additional memory also makes it possible to run more applications on the server concurrently and get better performance from them.

Like storage space, you can generally supplement your original server hardware with more RAM, so you won’t be locked into a hard limit once you make the purchase.

4. Security

If you use any form of server technology, network security is a vitally important part of your business, and it could make all the difference for your company’s survival. According to a study by the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small businesses shut their doors in the 6 months following a data breach.

Servers that will be interfacing with the outside world, such as those that host websites, must have robust security measures to protect their contents. Not only should the physical hardware be stored in a secure location, but you should also install tools such as firewalls, antivirus and anti-malware applications, and monitoring and alerting software in order to protect yourself.

5. Operating system

Although the operating system is largely independent of the server hardware itself, you should still consider which operating system would be best for your needs. These days, the two most popular choices of server OS are Windows Server and a Linux distribution such as Debian, OpenSUSE, Fedora Server, or Ubuntu Server.

Windows Server is popular among many large enterprises and has a more “corporate” feel to it. Meanwhile, Linux gives you more flexibility and freedom due to its open-source code base, but it can require a good deal of in-depth technical knowledge to use successfully—there’s no IT help desk you can call as with Microsoft.

In some cases such as web hosting, one of the two options is clearly the preferred choice. According to web technology survey company W3Techs, Unix-based operating systems such as Linux power 68 percent of websites, while Windows runs the remainder. Ultimately, the best choice of operating system for your server is likely the one that meshes the best with your existing IT infrastructure.

OS cheat sheets:

Final thoughts on business servers

Although buying a business server for your SMB might seem like a daunting task, the question really simplifies down to a few important considerations.

If you increasingly find that your SMB has IT needs that outstrip your staff’s abilities, it might be time to work with a managed IT services partner.

Interested in learning more? Contact our qualified, knowledgeable IT professionals at MCA who can give you the expert guidance and service that you need to run your business.

Which is better: a solid data recovery process, or a good data backup system?

For companies of all sizes and industries, data has become the new currency of the 21st century. Businesses strive fiercely to collect more information on their customers and unlock new analytical insights, giving them a competitive advantage.

Despite the tremendous value of this information, however, not every organization is taking adequate steps to protect it. According to a 2017 survey, 58% of small businesses say that they aren’t prepared for a data loss catastrophe. Perhaps that’s why data loss can be so devastating: the same survey found that 60% of SMBs who lose their data will go out of business within 6 months.

Organizations that want to safeguard their information in the event of data loss have two major options: data recovery and data backup. In this article, we’ll discuss the definitions of each of these options.

We’ll also cover why any robust data protection strategy must include both approaches.

cloud backup icon

What is data recovery?

Data recovery is the act of trying to salvage lost, corrupted, deleted, or damaged data.

In the event of an unexpected outage, you may introduce errors and corruptions in data that was “in transit.” This means that the information was being written, read, transmitted, or processed at the time of the outage.

Other data loss incidents may occur when your employees accidentally delete important files and information, or when you physically lose a hard drive or laptop to a thief.

How does data recovery work?

For one, you’re not actually removing the files and data from your hard drive when you empty the trash.

Instead, the data remains on the drive until you overwrite it with additional data. The sooner you act after deleting a file, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to recover it.

If you encounter a corrupted file, you still may be able to recover it if you ask fast using specialized software. Even if you can only recover part of the data, this might save you hours of wasted effort as your business gets back on its feet.

Data recovery is a reactive strategy for data loss because you implement it after a catastrophe. Remember, you really need to perform data recovery as soon as possible after the catastrophe to ensure that you get back as much data as possible.

This is both to maximize your chances of a successful recovery and to return to normal operations quickly.

data backup icon

What is data backup?

In contrast to data recovery, data backup is a proactive approach that creates redundant copies or archives of your files and information before disaster strikes.

While not the most frequent cause of data loss, natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods can wreak havoc on your recovery plans. However, your organization is far more likely to encounter disasters such as power outages, cyberattacks, and even user error.

In other words – if the physical drives and machines that contain your backups are destroyed, then you might as well not have made the backup in the first place.

For this reason, you should store your backups off-site in a separate physical location. To be most effective, you should also conduct your backups at regular intervals. You’ll also need to test them to ensure that they’re fully functional and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

How do data backups work?

Growing organizations have a wide selection of data backup tools at their disposal.

Using cloud software suites such as Office 365 and Google Drive can be helpful because they automatically save your documents in the cloud whenever they are changed. However, remember that you can’t manage and back up all of your files and information automatically using cloud software.

You need a dedicated source of backup that can securely capture and contain your data.

Remember that your backup solution should reflect your business needs. If you prioritize recovery speed, there’s a specific solution out there for you. But if you’re more interested in more methodical, large-scale backups, you might need a different solution.

Regardless, your smartest move is to talk to a data backup expert that can help you determine (and implement) a tailor-made solution.

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Why SMBs need both data recovery and data backup

You need data recovery and data backup for different situations. However, you need both to be truly resilient in the event of a data loss catastrophe.

Businesses with particularly large or complex operations may need to back up their data at daily or even hourly intervals. Nevertheless, even the most powerful data backup solutions can’t preserve all of your information all the time. To fill in the gaps between your scheduled backups, you’ll need a data recovery solution that retrieves the unsaved changes that haven’t yet been backed up.

Getting your operations back on track after data loss is critical – but far too many businesses fail to do so. It doesn’t matter how large your business is or what services you provide. You need a comprehensive strategy to protect your enterprise data that includes both data recovery and data backup.

Working with the right managed IT service provider will be essential in the event of catastrophic data loss. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions for data backup and recovery.

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