Opinion: Security is not just about preventing malware

Bosman Brink, Symantec retail product specialist at Drive Control Corporation (Image: file photo)

As the world becomes more connected via the Internet and the sheer number of threats increase, from viruses to trojans, spyware to phishing attacks, people are becoming increasingly aware of the need to secure their computers, servers and important data against a host of potential attacks awaiting them.

However, protecting data is not simply about preventing online attacks, and while protecting data from theft and corruption is important, it is also vital for organisations to protect themselves from data loss itself. Losing the contents of a hard drive can be dire for any business, particularly the smaller business and consultants whose livelihood often depends on the data contained on their computers and other devices. Any comprehensive data security programme needs to have another element to it besides Internet Security, and that is a thorough data backup and retention strategy.

In the past decade the amount of data in existence has increased exponentially, and continues to do so, and as people become more mobile and technology evolves into computing devices that enable us to work on the move from wherever we happen to be, the threat of losing data becomes even more prevalent. If any of these devices get stolen, and theft is something which is an all too common occurrence in South Africa, the data they contain will be lost to the owner forever.

Even without the reality of theft, accidents do happen and data may be wiped out unintentionally, devices may break and natural disasters such as fire and flooding all have the potential to destroy data. Added to this the vast number of cybercrime attacks that can corrupt data and destroy machines and the need to backup data becomes very clear.

The consequences of not adequately backing up data can vary depending on the business, but if business critical data is lost, such as client information, this can cripple a business. Even if the company has insurance against lost data they may never get back on track with where they were, as clients may defect to another business as a result of loss of productivity and it may take days, weeks or months to recover some of the lost information.

While some organisations and people do have backup strategies that include an onsite backup system, or the manual backup of documentation to another device that is then stored in the same location as the machine, this approach can be problematic. In the case of fire or other natural disasters the backup data will also be wiped out, rendering the exercise pointless.

Offsite storage is the best option for protecting data, as this means that all data that is backed up is stored in a separate location to minimise the risk of both copies of the data being lost or destroyed. , this may require data to be backed up to other physical storage devices and then moved to another location, which can be time consuming and expensive, especially for smaller businesses.

Technology has enabled another, more convenient form of offsite storage however, and that is cloud storage, which can easily and conveniently store backup data offsite without the need to physically move storage devices to another location. Online backup facilities also enable you to recover data from wherever you are, even if you are in another city or country to where you normally run your business. This means that if data is backed up online, not only is it useful for recovery, it can also be used to access information that may not necessarily be stored on a physical device on site at the office when the user is out of the office.

Cloud based online storage is also far cheaper than onsite physical storage as the actual storage devices do not need to be purchased, and data is secure and always available should it be needed.

By Bosman Brink, Symantec retail product specialist at Drive Control Corporation