The Importance of Early Detection

Michael Anderson IT Security

Every now and then, something starts circulating through Facebook that grabs my attention. The most recent is a video called Dear 16-year-old me, produced by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund. Watch it if you haven’t, and pass it along. It’s important stuff, and could save a life.

The video’s message is one that we hear repeatedly:

  • Understand and reduce your risk factors
  • Get checked regularly
  • Early detection is critical

So what does this have to do with your business?

While the loss of your company’s data is not a matter of physical life and death, it’s serious, and in fact a significant number of organizations don’t survive a major data loss. Even so, many of the companies that we meet with don’t realize the seriousness of their situation. Here are 3 true stories from the last month (names withheld to protect the innocent):

  1. Computer theft: One of our employee’s dentist had a break-in last week, and all of their computers were stolen. They had no backup – nothing. They don’t know what appointments are booked, what receivables are owed, or who their customers are. They will spend countless hours trying to rebuild this information
  2. Private Data Exposed:  I visited a health care practice earlier this week. When I asked how their billing system was being backed up, the Office Manager showed me the USB drives that she carries in her purse. I asked if the data on the drives was encrypted – it wasn’t. Should that purse get stolen, or left behind in a ladies’ room, every single client’s personal data could be exposed, with potential legal ramifications for the practice.
  3. Database crash: The landscaper we used to do our front yard last year stopped by the house with a letter. Their client database had crashed, and they were visiting past clients in person to piece the information back together.

Each of these stories could have been easily prevented, and there will undoubtedly be another batch this month. Our online backup solution starts at $5.95/month, and there are many more just like it. I don’t believe that it’s cost that keeps businesses from taking data backups seriously – rather, I believe it’s a misunderstanding of risk and impact. Many businesses just don’t believe that a data loss could happen to them. It’s an unfortunate reality that most small businesses start evaluating their backups after a data loss.

So, here’s the business homework for this month:

  1. Ask someone who knows how you’re backing up your critical business data (What / How Often / Where To)
  2. If you’re taking backups offsite (and you should be), where does it go? Is it secure there? Is the data encrypted or password-protected?
  3. 2. Are you testing your backups? When was the last time you did?

Early detection – in health, and in business systems, can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and something far more serious. If you need help, or would like to speak to someone about the tools available to protect the information you use to run your business, Give us a call or send us a note. We’d love to hear from you.

For more information about cancer research and prevention, see CancerCare Manitoba. Remember that early detection is critical – see your doctor regularly.