This article was written by Milica Vojnic of Wisetek, who specializes in advising businesses in avoiding cyber crime through an effective IT Asset Disposition policy.
We live in a world that is increasingly defined by the transmission of massive amounts of data. Businesses now rely upon this information to conduct day-to-day operations, to communicate with customers, to ensure superior levels of quality control, and to make strategic decisions at the appropriate times.
Unfortunately, incidences of data corruption are on the rise. From issues involving cyber security, to mismanaged files or simple oversight, the fact of the matter is that organizations need to adopt actionable policies in order to avert potentially serious consequences. Let us examine this concept in a bit more detail.
What exactly is a data corruption policy?
Before moving on to discuss the finer points, it is logical to begin by examining the core purpose of a data corruption policy. This approach involves developing a contingency plan that can be activated in the event that important information has been corrupted or otherwise compromised. This data could include client details, proprietary product information or indeed anything that is vital to ensure smooth daily operations.
However, another facet of data protection involves the ability to adopt an ongoing and proactive approach to potential threats. Such policies will therefore provide employees with specific rules and guidelines that must be followed. The main purpose here is to mitigate (as opposed to entirely eliminate) any risks that could directly or indirectly lead to data corruption.
Why is a data corruption policy now more important than ever before?
The concept of data corruption has existed since the early days of the Internet. However, things began to change due to the introduction of high-speed transmissions and wireless connectivity. While these methods are extremely efficient, they also allow information to be sent across channels that may be vulnerable to malicious third parties (such as hackers). Let us also remember that hybrid offices and remote employment are here to stay. Therefore, adopting a policy to reduce instances of data corruption has become exceedingly important.
What types of data corruption policies can businesses employ?
The answer to this question will depend on the size of the organization, the type of data and the perceived threat level. In other words, multinational companies will likely need to adopt a more multi-faceted approach when compared to a startup enterprise. There are still some key strategies to examine in greater detail.
Cloud-based storage systems
This is arguably the most well-known data corruption policy due to its cost-effective nature. Cloud-based systems will store important information offsite; allowing copies to be made in the event that in-house systems become corrupted or otherwise inaccessible. Simply stated, proprietary data can be made redundant and recalled when needed. Cloud-based systems also offer robust firewalls; adding yet another level of protection.
This approach involves simultaneously writing data to a local disk (such as a hard drive) and a remote site. This is actually quite similar to cloud storage. The only possible difference is that the remote site does not necessarily have to be connected to the Internet. It can instead be nothing more than a series of servers that are based at a different location. Of course, access to this information is only provided to authorized personnel. Should the information embedded within one hub become corrupted, it can still be recovered through an ancillary platform.
RAID is an acronym for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. This is yet another way to address the concerns associated with data corruption. RAID involves storing the same information across multiple hard drives or solid state drives (SSDs). Should a single drive fail due to corruption, other sources can be accessed within seconds.
One benefit of RAID is that it allows a system to centrally monitor the status of data. It therefore increases efficiency and provides an impressive level of real-time protection. Should information become modified or corrupted, an alert will immediately notify the user that a specific action should be taken (such as downloading the unaffected information to a secure server or device).
Antivirus software bundles
It is no secret that the threats posed by viruses are on the rise. In terms of data corruption, this often comes in the form of ransomware. Ransomware essentially scrambles important information so that is virtually irretrievable without a proprietary digital “key” provided by the malicious entity in question. Companies have already been forced to pay vast sums of money in order to restore this information and naturally, there are no guarantees that it will be returned to its prior state.
Antivirus programs provide automated levels of protection on a 24/7 basis. If corrupted data is detected, specific actions will be immediately taken. These include identification, quarantine, analysis, and (when warranted) restoration or deletion. Antivirus programs are continuing to evolve in accordance with the threats posed by hackers.
Finally, there may be times when data has been corrupted to the point where it can no longer be used. In this case, companies must implement an IT Asset Disposition policy ideally through a certified ITAD company. ITAD involves the means by which hardware and/or software are rendered useless to the point that no information can be recovered by unauthorized individuals. Overwriting, degaussing and physical destruction are three possible methods. However, note that this is generally considered to be the last resort.
Data corruption should never be taken lightly in this day and age. Companies that are able to proactively approach these situations will be much more capable of reducing the potential risks. This is why implementing the appropriate policy is a concern that affects everyone.
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