Master Data Management

Natasha Chapman (South Africa) - The True Cost of Data Loss: Report Indicates South African Companies are Ill-Prepared

There certainly is a lack of comprehensive data around data loss in South Africa.
When searching for statistics around business data loss concerning American or European organizations there are multiple agencies tracking disasters and collating this information. However, solid local figures are hard to come by and often focused around niche industries instead of offering a broader picture.


This was an integral motivation for the recent Cibecs business data loss survey – formulating a better understanding of where the data loss risks and vulnerabilities exist in South African corporate environments and improving our ability to understand business data protection requirements – as well as how alert South African businesses are to the real effects of data loss and whether or not prevention measures have significantly been adopted.


The 2011 Business Data Loss survey has uncovered alarming statistics around South African enterprise data loss and data protection, with over half of respondents stating that they have lost business data in the last 12 months. “Even more concerning,” says Cibecs CEO, Richard Dewing, “is that 10% of companies state they cannot recover their business data if lost - while 37% estimated that business data recovery in their organization would take a day or longer (and up to a month in some cases).”


This puts a large percentage of South African enterprises far behind the global standard for disaster recovery.  For effective business continuity (specifically in industries requiring exceptionally secure and effective data protection such as finance and healthcare) businesses should be able to recover data almost immediately, within 1 – 5 hours of the disaster. Business data loss is an unfortunate inevitability and, although it cannot be avoided, the ability to recover that data quickly and securely should be ensured.


Data Loss Risks in South African Enterprises


The most common cause of business data loss, according to the survey, is hardware failure - with negligence and theft hot on its heels as main causes of business data loss. The prevalence of data loss due to hardware failure may be a result of South African businesses failing to keep up with global hardware refresh cycle standards and choosing instead to recycle hardware through their organization.


It is commonly reported that while extending the corporate PC lifecycle might initially trim IT costs and capital expenditure, the result of old and outdated systems in an enterprise is increased support and maintenance costs, interrupted productivity and negatively affected organizational operations, as well as eventual data loss.

The Shift Towards Built-From-The-Ground-Up Endpoint Protection


It does seem however that South African companies are following the current global shift in thinking around data protection, where IT needs to strategize their data protection and disaster recovery around an ‘endpoint first’ methodology. Industry analysts are noting that endpoint data protection is not only one of the biggest challenges faced by IT today but has become one of the most important business continuity considerations.


Increased user mobility in the workplace is one of the factors contributing to increased data loss risk. The 2011 Business Data Loss survey revealed that over 60% of professionals are using laptops as their primary system. This mobilization of corporate data intensifies possible cyber security threats and unauthorized access to corporate confidential information.


Increased user mobility also results in inflated bandwidth costs – with over 67% of companies reporting significantly higher bandwidth and storage costs in 2011.With bandwidth already costly for South African businesses it seems that user mobility has created a definite requirement for data protection solutions that minimize bandwidth costs for enterprise environments.

User managed policies don’t work


In the past, legacy solutions with an endpoint backup component were employed by companies to address user data protection alongside the introduction of a data backup policy. Enterprise CIOs and IT managers globally know that relying on the user to follow policy doesn’t work. Survey results reveal an obvious requirement for South African organizations to move away from this ineffective, high-risk data protection strategy and to find solutions that offer central control and automation.


The 2011 business data loss survey illustrated a clear shift in South African business IT mindset, with a slow but definite movement towards a greater focus on the endpoint imperative.


Find the Cibecs 2011 Data Loss Survey Results here.


By Natasha Chapman, SEO and Online Marketing at Cibecs, South Africa


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