5 Things COVID-19 Can Teach Us About Data Security

2020 has been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the entire world has been unified in its struggle to get a handle on the challenges we face together. We have all had to embrace some new concepts that everyone is more than familiar with now to protect our health and wellbeing. What insights from COVID-19 can we apply to protecting our businesses and data security?

Here are 5 terms that we have learned during COVID-19 and how they can be applied to data protection.

1. Critical Outcomes

Perhaps the most devastating thing that we have learned from COVID-19 is that critical outcomes are a genuine possibility. We endured the hype of multiple health scares in the years leading up to 2020 but none of them became the reality that we were warned about. Having a pandemic claim the lives of over one million people worldwide, bring economies to a crashing halt and force us into the isolation of self-quarantine has been a stark awakening. Even as some dismiss the veracity of the threat, many others reach critical outcomes and add their names to the list of COVID-19 fatalities.

The threat of critical loss and data catastrophe is something many companies have heard as a cautionary tale, yet so many systems remain dangerously vulnerable to attack or disaster. The lesson to be learned here is that the warnings are not just hype or fearmongering. Data disasters do happen, regularly and with increasing frequency. With the experience of a catastrophic event fresh in our minds, we should take the threat of data disaster to heart.

2. Abundance of Caution

When the first outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in Canada, we were told to stay home, stay safe and lockdown out of “abundance of caution”. Schools were closed, businesses were closed and public health was the top priority. As restrictions have been relaxed to allow the economy to function, we are still advised to wear masks at all times and limit public outings to necessity only. This all comes at great cost to our financial future as billions are handed out by the government to support families and businesses, but it is justified by the need to be prudent and over-cautious in an effort to avoid the critical outcomes discussed earlier.

This same approach is strongly recommended for your data security and disaster protection. Losing your data is a crippling outcome with multiple facets to the effects on your operations and livelihood. If you are not taking serious precautions to protect your data and mitigate eventual disasters, then perhaps you should revisit your business priorities and realize that the investment in preventative measures is much more affordable than the cost of recovery.

3. Resiliency

The impact of COVID-19 on businesses has been very real. Beyond the obvious challenges of lost revenue due to the economic shutdown, there are also the issues of reduced staffing, supply chain disruption, cashflow shortages and shifting buyer behaviours to contend with. One key to survival for those that can persevere is resiliency, and the term has become the focus of countless keynotes and discussions over the past few months. It is defined as the ability to withstand disaster and the agility to react to the unforeseen without succumbing to negative impacts.

Resiliency is a necessity in your data systems. Security, ransomware protection, cloud back-ups, recovery point and recovery time are all features of a disaster recovery program that add resiliency to your business. An external drive back-up plan is not enough to protect you from a fire in the office or hardware theft. If your latest back-up was days ago or takes 8 hours to restore, there may be a significant gap in your operational agility that will cost you productivity and potentially jeopardize your business.

4. Asymptomatic

One of the greatest concerns about COVID-19 is that one may be a carrier of this infectious disease without displaying any symptoms. Asymptomatic carriers can spread the virus without warning and cannot be identified easily. Just because you don’t feel ill or show any physical signs of infection does not mean you have nothing to worry about.

The same goes for those businesses who are potential data disaster victims. They may be asymptomatic in the way that their systems are currently operating without issue and show no sign of being vulnerable to disaster or attack. Just because your business has never experienced data loss or a security breach does not mean that you have nothing to worry about.

5. Getting Tested

The solution to the uncertainty of being an asymptomatic carrier is to take a COVID-19 test and find out for sure. If you test positive, you can self-isolate for the prescribed amount of time to ensure you don’t bring about any critical outcomes to your friends, family or neighbours. Even for the sake of your peace of mind in dealing with the stress and anxiety of a threat to your personal health, a test is never a bad idea.

When it comes to the security and resiliency of your data systems, we highly recommend getting tested to identify threats, gaps and weaknesses in your disaster recovery program. A good Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) service provider can run reports on Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) to let you know exactly how well protected you are from disaster. If your DRaaS provider does not give you these reports, talk to one that does and you may be able to test drive their service to demonstrate these metrics.

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