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4 Ways to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data

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4 Ways to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: January 10, 2013

Are you doing enough to safeguard and protect your small business data?

Small businesses are widely adopting data back-up practices to ensure data is retrievable should a disaster occur, but gaps remain. According to a July 2012 study by accounting software company Sage, the bulk of small businesses are backing up key data such as financial information, but most businesses back up that data on-site only. Furthermore, the study found that only 38 percent of surveyed small businesses have a formal emergency or disaster preparedness plan.

Given the brutal impact of Superstorm Sandy and other disasters that affect small businesses on a regular basis, these are worrying statistics.

Backing up on-site may not be sufficient to protect small businesses from natural disasters – particularly if the business is located in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, fires or flooding – or more common crises, such as theft or hardware malfunction,” said Connie Certusi, executive vice president and general manager of Sage Small Business Solutions, in a company press release.

The development of a preparedness plan that includes solutions for protecting critical information, such us backing up off-site, could be the difference between getting a business on its way to recovery and worrying about its survival.”

So what’s the best way to make sure your small business data is secure and available at all times? Here are four tips:

1. Automate Your Back-Ups and Build in Redundancy

Whether you’re a freelancer or a 50-person firm, an automated back-up system is a must. Many of us know the value of backing up to a local hard drive (you can buy one that will store terabytes of data for under $100) or server.  But you should also consider backing up to a third party or off-site service. If your business property (along with your back-up device) is destroyed in a disaster, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your data is retrievable.

Cloud back-ups are increasingly popular, whereby companies such as DropBox, Symantec and Carbonite will securely replicate, back up and store your data in the cloud (basically a shared computer hosted by a third party on the Internet). Cloud services are particularly beneficial for small business owners who may not have an in-house IT team to help them manage and administer server back-ups.

To help you determine the best approach for your business, read this blog: Finding the Best Backup Option for Your Small Business Data.

2. Consider Server Virtualization

According to a survey by CDW, 25 percent of small businesses have virtualized at least some of their servers, with improved data protection cited as a direct benefit. But what is server virtualization? Server virtualization allows you to take one physical server machine and run several virtual server environments (for example, your email, database, and web servers) on it. Essentially, one server performs the work of many. Along with cost benefits, virtualization also makes disaster recovery easier.   Read more about the ins and outs of server virtualization in this Server Virtualization Guide for Small Business on Small Business Computing.com.

3. Run a Full Service Security Suite

Safeguarding data is about more than backing it up. Intrusion attempts, computer viruses and malware all can compromise business data and threaten your systems.

Consider installing a hardware firewall. Most firewall systems protect your software, but by the time most firewalls are activated, the threat is already inside your network. But a secure appliance-based firewall between the Internet and your business data will block intruders and threats before they enter your network.

Anti-virus and spam filters represent another security layer that protects incoming and outgoing data. Use content filters; they protect local computers from malware threats by blocking entry to potentially harmful websites.

4. Have a Big Picture Disaster Preparedness Plan

Approximately 40-60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster (source).  While the value of our business data is incalculable, protecting your business and your employees by ensuring you are prepared for the eventuality of a natural or man-made disaster is equally critical. Create a plan of action to lessen the impact of disasters, and a disaster recovery plan to ensure you are up and ready for business sooner.

Check out SBA’s guides, tools and templates to help you prepare and improve your chances of recovering quickly should the worst happen – Small Business Emergency Preparedness Guide. You can also visit the SBA Learning Center for online courses, webinars and other tips to help you with your disaster planning.

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About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

I always back up three times. Once on site, once in the same site in a secure facility and then again in another state not close by in a secure facility. That way you minimize the chances of natural disaster striking. We also use different companies for the secured facilities just in case.
i am not sure about bussiness but this site make me aware about everything involved bussiness. thanks
The backup of data is consequently the important process of system safety.Can control the data backup technique, use the saving equipments of network to carry on the fast network disaster and machines breakdown's instauration.
“Your improvement of your preparedness plan in which contains solutions for protecting critical information, these kinds of people backing up off-site, might be your difference between having any enterprise upon its technique to restoration and fretting about it's emergency.”I agree with this comment.
Your improvement of an preparedness program in which incorporates solutions for defending crucial information and facts, this sort of us all burning off-site, may be your difference between finding any business enterprise upon its method to restoration and fretting about it's survival.
You are right that disasters can hit us anytime. We should ensure that our data is fully secured against all possible threats and could be retrieving easily. Thanks for suggesting ways to improve security of data.
Your ideas resonate with mine. There are lots of ways to protect your data and incorporating them can make the epitome of a fully operational protection plan. Cloud computing has become omnipresent these days through quite a lot of prominent names like Citrix, IBM, Rackspace and the long list goes on. There's no better way to save what could possibly be lost through various circumstances, say, a dilapidatig weather perhaps than getting your data copied or stored to a virtual storage on the cloud. Another way to prevent losing data would be the integration of secure shells in web hosts -- protection mostly against hackers, that is. Lastly, the implication of log monitoring through a steadfast, non-intrusive software would be of great help granted that internal program mess ups can sum up to data loss, too. There are many ways you can lose data, but there's also as much you can do to preven that from happening. Have a good one!
As a business owner that lives and works in a hurricane prone state, I know first hand the importance of safeguarding personal and business information. Depending on your needs and the size of your business, you may need to keep some data on-site. However, with new technologies such as cloud computing, it is easier than ever to back your data up off-site and in a secure location. If you don't have an emergency preparedness plan in place, I would highly suggest creating one. You may end up rethinking some of your business solutions to ensure they are secure in the event of an emergency. Your insurance agent can also help guide you through emergency planning, and they can walk you through your insurance plan to help you find the best coverage for your business.
You are writing about cloud backups and server virtualization, why not combine these two and add encryption. Some cloud services, most not, can handle encryted data in so called containers. I don´t want to advertise any software here, so I suggest googeling for e.g. "dropbox encryption". There are numerous programs that can be installed on virtualized servers and do backups during the night.
Nice idea, nowadays, where most cloud provider provide online database on cloud system, data can be stored on cloud instead of stored at their local PC/Server. Synchronization feature between online backup and local system also available to make it up-to-date. We Aman Technology ( This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you. ) provide online database backup on cloud. It is helping small business owner in Indonesia to store their backup of accounting/transaction data in the cloud, with pay-as-you-go, they pay based on storage allocated for their data.

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