As reported in Computer Weekly, figures obtained by Egress Software Technologies (via a Freedom of Information request) found that human error accounted for almost two-thirds (62%) of data breaches reported to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office in 2016. By comparison, insecure webpages and hacking were only responsible for 9% of the incidents reported.
That’s not to say that IT security is a non-factor, but in the limited scope of document retention and emergency preparedness, you are more likely to lose data resulting from a natural disaster or accidental deletion than an intrusive data breach. Even in a worst-case scenario, cybercriminals usually only steal data—they don’t necessarily delete it. You should make sure your IT department has measures in place to prevent intrusions, but equally important is to make sure that all critical digital information is backed up and accessible in the event of a power outage or data loss.
A good starting point is to make sure your critical documents adhere to the “3-2-1 rule” of data backup.
- Create three copies of data (one primary + two backups)
- Store data on at least two types of media (local network, USB drive, private server, etc.)
- Keep one copy offsite (secure physical storage, cloud service, etc.)
Another IT consideration is how often critical data is being backed up (locally or in the cloud). Important files should be backed up at a minimum once a week, preferably once every 24 hours. If you utilize a cloud-based document hosting service, find out how often data is backed up and whether it occurs automatically or needs to be performed manually.
Finally, make sure that your digital data recovery strategies are working. Every so often, perform a “test” to see if you can access backup copies at a moment’s notice. To do this, simply save a test file and go through the actual steps of backing it up. Then, delete the primary version (the original) and see whether you can easily access the backups, how soon you can access them, and if they are identical to the original.
Ask your IT department for help developing a data backup plan if you don’t currently have one in place.