Data and information may seem like an intangible concept, but it often requires tangible storage options to be protected and utilized effectively. For businesses, considering the many data storage solutions available can be a big decision. And while large businesses often have the resources to prioritize data security, small business tend to be lacking.

There are a lot of different things to consider when looking at data storage solutions, beyond cost and memory. In recent years there has been an additional focus from both regulatory bodies and consumers on data storage and protection methods, due to high-profile cases like the Facebook breach and new guidelines like GDPR.

This increased awareness has put pressure on businesses to make the right choices when collecting and storing sensitive data. Here are some of the things to look into when investing in data storage, and why this is such a critical focal point in the modern world.

data storage solutions

Data Storage Over Time

Over the past decade, the term “big data” has gone from a word found solely in tech industry circles to a proverbial household name. Businesses are realizing the profound impact that collecting data can have. As more businesses strive to turn their data into useable information and focus on data-driven strategic planning, the demand for data storage has risen significantly.

It’s not just businesses that are looking for a piece of the data storage pie. Floppy discs, burning CDs, and even using thumb drives is no longer optimal for the average consumer. Photos are no longer taken sparingly, developed, and stored in an album. While it’s hard to conceptualize the thought of a data storage shortage, that’s exactly what’s taking place.

By the year 2020, it’s estimated that the demand for data storage will surpass the supply of storage options by 17,900 exabytes. To clarify the significance of this number, an exabyte is the equivalent of one billion gigabytes. As many businesses will find themselves with inadequate data storage, cybersecurity will be lax and the risk of a breach increases dramatically.

Cybersecurity  

Cybersecurity is a very real concern for modern businesses, especially with the growing prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT) in one’s daily existence. Inadequate security protocols and measures put in place, in combination with employees’ various applications and modes of communication, can create opportunities for those with malicious intent to access sensitive data for nefarious purposes.

Internal vs. External Threats

Cybersecurity should be the highest priority when considering data storage solutions. Firewalls and anti-malware software is essential to protect from external threats, but internal threats must be evaluated as well. Implementing access rights management practices and tools (click here for more information on access rights) is one of the main ways to mitigate internal threats. This software ensures that no one is accessing files they don’t require, limiting the release of sensitive data through snooping or accidental deletion of important files.  

Employee education is also crucial for effective cybersecurity. This is especially significant now that more businesses are following a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach. While the benefits of this streamlined approach to business usually outweigh the risks, there is limited control over what someone does on their personal time using these devices.

Cybersecurity Priorities

Small business owners often make the tragic mistake of thinking that hackers only target large businesses. On the contrary, as small businesses tend to lack cybersecurity, they tend to be the target of 43% of these attacks. As 60% of businesses that experience a data breach go under in the next six months, it’s essential to prioritize cybersecurity.

In addition to educating employees, it’s important to look at how third-party storage providers handle data. It’s possible that sensitive business data will be stored with other customer data and that the information is viewed by unauthorized personnel within the provider’s organization.

In addition to employee training, firewalls, and malware protection, it’s also important to have a secure wifi network separate from the public network to ensure the safe transfer of information. It’s an unfortunate truth that even having the basics in place will protect a small business as hackers tend to look for an easy opportunity. This often means that by having these measures in place, you’re protecting yourself while someone else gets attacked.

Cloud vs. Traditional Servers

More businesses are moving away from traditional servers and toward cloud storage. There are many reasons for this shift: fewer capital investment requirements, lower maintenance costs, flexibility, and preparing for the future to name a few. However, there are pros and cons to each approach.

Some businesses are making a slower shift by using a hybrid cloud storage solution. With this approach, the businesses are keeping some in-house server options to protect sensitive data, and using the cloud to flex their storage options as needed. Take some time to evaluate what would work for your business.

Compliance

While businesses should be concerned with cybersecurity for their own sake, there are also regulations put in place to ensure that a company’s data storage is secure. This is especially true for publicly traded companies, as proper storage protocols are in the best interest of the shareholders. Any business that stores sensitive data about customers will be required to adhere to a set of standards.

Work with a compliance expert to identify where your business falls in terms of regulatory, and make key decisions surrounding your data storage based on those conversations.

Have a Backup Plan

When looking for data storage solutions, it’s important to have a backup plan— literally. Backing up data ensures that if the worst should happen, the company will be able to survive. Figure out where data will be stored and what the process is with your provider should a breach occur. Many companies make the mistake of thinking cloud providers handle the backup protocols, but the protocols they have in place are meant for an error on their end rather than a breach in the business.

Identify key roles and processes for if a data loss incident should occur. Keep multiple copies of important data in various geographic locations if possible for optimal protection. If your data will be stored onsite, having an alternate storage location can protect from larger external threats, like a natural disaster.

Final Thoughts

When considering data storage options for your business, remember to find a solution that fits your data, rather than trying to mold your data to a specific solution. Know your access and retention needs and research your potential providers thoroughly to select the best data storage for your business.