Help! We've Lost All Our Critical Data
Though small and midsized businesses (SMBs) are at risk, they’re still not making disaster preparedness a priority until they experience a disaster or data loss. That’s according to Symantec Corp.’s “2011 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey,” which measured the attitudes and practices of SMBs and their customers toward disaster preparedness.
The data also reveal that the cost of not being prepared is high, putting an SMB at risk of going out of business. According to the survey, downtime not only costs SMBs several thousands of dollars, it also causes their customers to leave.
“According to the research findings, SMBs still haven’t recognized the tremendous impact a disaster can have on their businesses,” said Bernard Laroche, senior director of SMB product marketing for Symantec. “Despite warnings, it seems like many still think it can’t happen to them. Disasters happen, and SMBs cannot afford to risk losing their information or — more importantly — their customers’ critical information. Simple planning can enable SMBs to protect their information in the event of a disaster, which in turn will help them build trust with their customers.”
Despite Warnings, SMBs Still Not Prepared
The findings show that many SMBs don’t understand the importance of disaster preparedness. Half of the respondents don’t have a plan in place; 41 percent said it never occurred to them to put together a plan; and 40 percent stated that disaster preparedness is not a priority for them.
Sixty-five percent of respondents live in regions susceptible to natural disasters. In the past 12 months, the typical SMB experienced six computer outages, with the leading causes being cyberattacks, power outages or natural disasters.
The survey revealed that the information that drives most small and midsized businesses is simply not protected. Fewer than half of SMBs back up their data weekly or more frequently, and only 23 percent back up daily. Respondents also reported that a disaster would cause information loss. In fact, 44 percent of SMBs said they would lose at least 40 percent of their data in the event of a disaster.
Lack of Preparedness Impacts the Business
Disasters can have a significant financial impact on SMBs. The median cost of downtime for an SMB is $12,500 per day. Outages cause customers to leave — 54 percent of SMB customer respondents reported they have switched SMB vendors due to unreliable computing systems, a 12 percent increase compared with last year’s survey. This downtime can also put them out of business. Also, 44 percent of SMB customers surveyed stated that their SMB vendors have temporarily shut down due to a disaster.
Customers of SMBs also reported considerable effects to their own businesses. When SMBs experience downtime, it costs their customers an average of $10,000 per day. In addition to direct financial costs, 29 percent of the customers surveyed lost some or a lot of what they viewed as important data as a result of disasters impacting their SMB vendors.
The survey found that 36 percent of SMBs intend to create a disaster preparedness plan in the future. Here are some recommendations:
• Don’t wait until it’s too late. SMBs shouldn’t wait until after a disaster to think about what they should have done to protect their information. Not only is downtime costly from a financial perspective, but it could mean the demise of the business. A disaster preparedness plan should include identification of key systems and data that is intrinsic to the running of the business.
• Protect information completely. To reduce the risk of losing critical business information, SMBs must implement the appropriate security and backup solutions to archive important files, such as customer records and financial information. Natural disasters, power outages and cyberattacks can all result in data and financial loss, so SMBs need to make sure important files are saved not only on an external hard drive or company network, but in a safe, off-site location.
• Get employees involved. SMB employees play a key role in helping to prevent downtime and should be educated on computer security best practices and what to do if information is accidentally deleted or cannot easily be found in their files.
• Test frequently. After a disaster hits is the worst time to learn that critical files were not backed up as planned. Regular disaster recovery testing is invaluable.
• Review your plan. If frequent testing is not feasible due to resources and bandwidth, SMBs should at least review their disaster preparedness plan on a quarterly basis.