As we enter into a new decade it’s the perfect time to reflect on the ever-changing landscape of business security. Doing business in this era is nothing like it was in the Y2K days. Today your primary business assets are digital, from your employee data to customer data and everything in between. Depending on your industry, that data may be subject to a whole host of stringent laws in regard to how it is stored and protected. What happens if it gets lost, leaked or stolen? The consequences can be catastrophic.
Here at Nomerel, an Oklahoma IT company, we help businesses in dozens of industries, including medical, legal, oil and gas, and many others, to protect their masses of data. We’re talking millions of patient records, project files, multimedia files, archives, and numerous other pieces of valuable and often sensitive information. Not only do we protect this data, but we also help our clients to formulate a disaster recovery plan so that if the worst does happen, we can quickly get the situation under control.
We want to share the stories of three organizations that did not have a disaster recovery plan. Although not clients of ours, these stories are very similar to those experienced by businesses we’ve encountered right here in Oklahoma. Today, those businesses are our longstanding clients and have solid business continuity plans in place, but it is unfortunate that they had to learn the hard way about the dangers of data insecurity.
If you’re keen to protect the future of your business in the digital age, give us a call or complete our contact form to set up a meeting. We would love to talk about your business continuity plan; we think you might be surprised at how fast and cost-effective it is to implement.
How to protect your company from a digital ransom attack: this city in Florida paid a big price
In June this year, an entire city in Florida was hit with a data breach that cost an astounding $600,000. What’s even more shocking is that this case wasn’t the first of its kind. It is fairly common for government agencies to fall foul of hacking organizations who paralyze computer systems or steal data and demand a ransom for its release. Private companies are also vulnerable to these types of cyberattacks.
In this instance, Riviera Beach found itself facing disaster after an employee of the police department opened an email attachment that was infected with a virus that shut down the entire city’s online systems. Email, office phone systems, and water utility pump stations were impacted. The city was unable to process payroll and vendor payments.
The solution? First, the city was forced to bring forward a planned upgrade of its computer hardware by a year, to the cost of $900,000. Then it paid out an additional $600,000 ransom to the hackers responsible for the attack to recoup their valuable data.
The key point with this story is that Riviera Beach’s digital security was simply not up to scratch. Had they had a dedicated security strategy in place their systems would never have been infected. We can guarantee that preventative cybersecurity would have cost them a whole lot less than the $1.5 million it took to resolve the problem.
Anyone can create a data backup, but an IT company is going to make sure it is fail-proof
Remember the much-loved 1999 kids’ animation Toy Story 2? Well, it might surprise you to learn that due to a simple user error and a major issue with a data backup system, the whole movie was accidentally deleted while still in production. Hundreds of man-hours worth of work were erased in just minutes, and it took a gargantuan effort to get it back.
The issue came about when an employee accidentally triggered a command which began to systematically delete every file in the network. When it dawned on the Pixar team what was happening, they unplugged their master server to halt the deletions and then took a look over what was left. 90% of the movie had been deleted.
No problem, the team thought, we can just use our backup, right? Wrong. This was the crux of the problem. Unfortunately, the backup system had not been adequately checked. If it had, somebody would have realized that the backup system was not big enough to store all the data. New files were writing to the backup drive and pushing older files off. Only a minority of the necessary files were there.
Luckily there was something of a solution. One of the team members had recently been working from home. She had a computer at her house that had a full copy of the network from just a couple of weeks earlier. The team managed, over the course of a sleep-deprived weekend, to trawl through these files and compare them with those recovered from the backup and a series of files saved locally by animators and modelers. They rebuilt the movie – still with several thousand files missing – adequately enough that the project could get back on track.
What’s ironic about this story is that Pixar ended up scrapping, rewriting and rebuilding the movie all over again just a few months later, not because of another data error but because they wanted to make it better. But they certainly learned a lot from their mistakes the first time around, namely that a fail-proof business data backups system is a worthwhile investment when producing a multi-million dollar movie.
Think the Geek Squad is going to help your company? Wrong. This is one of the hundreds of stories – don’t risk it!
In 2008 consumer electronics retailer Best Buy was faced with a gigantic $54 million lawsuit. Why? They had lost a customer’s business laptop, and she was seeking damages not for the loss of the computer, but for the loss of her personal data.
She argued that Best Buy had completely disregarded the importance of protecting her data after her laptop went missing from a store in Tenleytown, D.C. She had taken the laptop there to have the company’s Geek Squad technicians deal with a repair. When she began to question the laptop’s whereabouts, Best Buy misled her about the computer’s location for weeks before finally admitting that it had been lost.
Not only is it appalling that Best Buy can lose electronics that contain valuable and sensitive personal information, but their methods for managing the issue were even worse. They offered the customer just $1110 dollars and a $500 gift card – enough to buy a new laptop, sure, but certainly not compensation enough for the loss of private data. It seemed like they weren’t taking the issue of data breach seriously enough, and the customer quite rightly wanted to make the company sit up and take note when she issued the massive lawsuit.
The lesson here is that we cannot take the protection of data lightly. There are myriad ways in which data can accidentally be lost and subsequently become vulnerable to fraud or exposure. Businesses must have stringent security measures in place to ensure that accidents like this don’t leave them losing either their own valuable data or, perhaps even worse, the personal data of their customers.
Don’t want to be the fourth story on this list? Reach out to us
We would love the opportunity to learn about your organization and discover which of our services would best suit your business. At Nomerel we are proactive; we have experience in every industry and will protect your data with care. We provide organizations with fail-proof data recovery plans throughout Oklahoma, Northwestern Arkansas, and Kansas. We build cost-effective, custom IT solutions that are tailored to your business’ exact needs, giving you everything you need and nothing you don’t. Allow us to bring simplicity and clarity to your IT environment so that you can have the freedom to focus on growing your business.