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Data Loss Risks in the Age of Collaboration

May 4, 2017, 22:14 PM by Trenton Baker
There are plenty of difficulties in any corporate IT professional’s job, but one of the most challenging aspects of being an IT pro is this...

There are plenty of difficulties in any corporate IT professional’s job, but one of the most challenging aspects of being an IT pro is this: How can you maintain an efficient, reliable and secure technology infrastructure in an environment filled with unknown risks? Known risks are challenging enough to fill an IT pro’s day. But unknown risks?

And that list of unknowns is enormous and always growing. New methods of cyberattacks. New apps or files innocently downloaded by an employee onto the corporate network that might be corrupted or otherwise put the company’s systems in jeopardy. An employee accidentally dropping a stick of butter onto a backup disk. Is your backup hardware butter-resistant? Unknown.

This is a persistent problem for even the most diligent and thorough IT professionals. They can work day and night building up defense protocols to protect against the threats they know about. They can develop, test and even perfect recovery processes to get their businesses back up and running after disasters they can foresee. But how do they protect their organization’s technology infrastructure against the unknowns?

Collaboration Platforms Increase the Risk of Data Loss

In this respect, our modern era of cloud communication and collaboration is a mixed bag. Obviously, online collaboration platforms like Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox and WebEx present today’s businesses with tremendous opportunities — to speed and improve the quality of company initiatives, and to reduce the cost of communication and collaboration among teams scattered across geographical locations.

SaaS Based Data Loss

But the ease of installing and using these services also presents a problem: Today’s workers often collaborate with such tools — including using them to store and share intellectual property and other highly sensitive data — without the support or even knowledge of the organization’s IT department.

A 2016 study conducted by the Enterprise Strategy Group focused on these new challenges to IT in protecting their companies’ data amid the fast-growing usage of cloud tools their employees are using to share that data.

And although this wasn’t the focus of the study or the company’s research report, the following statement stands out as underscoring an often overlooked threat to a company’s data security:

One of the major challenges that the IT professionals surveyed cited as making it difficult to keep company data safeguarded was “shadow IT” — a term describing the process by which employees will deploy and use technology for company business that has not been authorized or vetted by IT.

In other words, because they’re being used without oversight of IT, these cloud collaboration applications are creating more unknowns for corporate IT departments. No corporate IT professionals, no matter how diligent, can safeguard, back up or keep confidential company data — if they don’t know where and how that data is being stored, accessed and shared.

The Lesser-Known Data Risks of Online Collaboration Tools

That 2016 Enterprise Strategy Group study focused primarily was compromising the confidentiality and security of corporate data. They discussed concerns such as employees inadvertently sending company information to the wrong people, having data hacked, or data being stolen or otherwise mishandled by employees or vendors.

But when your employees take to the web with sensitive or mission-critical corporate data — for example, to work on projects in real-time with remote third parties — these undertakings create other risks for your data and your company. A few examples…

1.  Downtime

If your employees are collaborating over the web using a cloud app, you need to know that this app offers a service level agreement (SLA) guarantee of a high degree of uptime.

You can’t afford to have mission-critical company data stored on a cloud platform that’s unstable and unproven and might be taken down indefinitely.

2. Insufficient Security

Another reason IT professionals worry so much about shadow IT projects — where their employees are working with online tools they haven’t vetted — is the potential that these cloud tools might not have the security to withstand breach attempts from hackers.

This is another reason it’s so important to implement a companywide policy that any new collaboration tool your staff is considering must first run through the IT department, if for no other reason than to make sure using it won’t compromise company secrets.

3.  Lack of Backup and Recovery

Finally, when your employees collaborate on work-related projects over the web using online collaboration platforms, there is always the chance — even the likelihood — that the files and other assets they’ve created and stored on these cloud apps will represent the only copies.

What that means, of course, is that if the cloud service provider experiences a disaster, or if your employee simply accidentally deletes an asset on the cloud, that asset might be irretrievable. This is particularly true if the cloud service provider itself doesn’t offer robust, continuous backup of all of your company assets stored on its cloud. And that’s why it’s so important to seek out cloud providers that offer some level of data backup and recovery for their customers.

Another Reason for Cloud Backup and Recovery

But an even safer, simpler and more comprehensive solution is to deploy your own companywide wide cloud backup solution — or, if you’re an MSP or VAR or technology reseller, to add such a cloud backup service to your portfolio for your clients.

Deploying the right cloud backup and disaster recovery system will enable your company to ensure you are automatically and continuously backing up everything — in-house data, data stored on your vendors’ cloud applications, even all company data stored on your employees’ endpoint devices like mobile phones.

In other words, deploying the right cloud backup service, with the right partner, can help your IT team significantly reduce that list of unknowns.

KeepItSafe is an industry leader in providing white-glove services for cloud backup, disaster recovery and endpoint protection.

Contact us or one of our Partners to learn how we can protect your data — 24/7/365.

Resellers, join our Partner Program to help your clients better protect their data, systems and network infrastructure.

Patrick Rougeau

Technical Sales Engineer, KeepItSafe

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