Disaster Recovery Weaknesses Are Pervasive

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

A new study reveals that 90 percent of IT decision-makers believe their data is vulnerable in a disaster, and 27 percent experienced some type of data security incident during the last year.

By Sam Greengard

For years, organizations have struggled to cope with the challenges of disaster recovery. Events such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan demonstrated just how vulnerable many companies are—and how their supply chains can be affected by a natural or human-induced disaster.

According to a new study conducted by Quantum, 90 percent of IT decision-makers believe their data is vulnerable in a disaster. What's more, 27 percent experienced some type of data security incident during the last year, but only 15 percent of these breakdowns were due to natural disasters.

"It's remarkable that the number remains so high," observes Casey Burns, product marketing manager for virtualization technologies at Quantum. "Organizations must take a hard look at how they will address the challenges of an increasingly complex disaster recovery environment."

As organizations move into the cloud and embrace mobility, it's becoming more difficult to conduct an inventory of data, know where data resides and ensure that it’s backed up effectively. "What is particularly interesting," Burns says, "is that the risk of a natural disaster is relatively low, while the possibility of a human error or problem is significant."

Overall, the number of respondents describing their organization's data as "extremely vulnerable" edged up from 8 percent in the 2010 survey to 11 percent in the current survey. The most common data security incident involved virus attacks, up 7 percentage points from 2010. "This demonstrates the need to have a robust backup process in place because viruses and other malware can permeate multiple data copies," Burns notes.

Operating system failure was the next most common security issue, at 48 percent. This represents a 21 percentage point increase from the previous survey. Meanwhile, 26 percent of organizations witnessed accidental deletion of data. Burns says that as organizations move data around more frequently and deploy mobile devices, the risk of lost data grows.

And other challenges remain. Nearly one-third of organizations (30 percent) have confronted a hardware corruption issue in the last 12 months; 29 percent have had devices lost or stolen; 27 percent have endured a hacking or electronic data breach; 20 percent have had a firmware corruption incident take place; and 13 percent have faced a break-in.

The business effect of data-restore problems is very real: The survey found that 66 percent of businesses reported a significant delay or stop in day-to-day business activities for a period of time; 65 percent experienced a loss of revenues; 63 percent had to devote significant resources to recreate data where possible; 50 percent missed service-level agreements with customers and users; 39 percent experienced penalties or compliance fines; 39 percent confronted public relations problems or brand damage; and 35 percent had possible legal implications.

"Organizations must take the time to evaluate their disaster recovery strategy and data protection systems to find out where the vulnerabilities reside,” Burns says. “As companies turn to the cloud and virtualization, the challenges grow because physical and virtual data sets reside in different places, and the environment is in constant flux. A company must evaluate all processes and have a complete understanding of where data resides."

This article was originally published on 2012-08-08

Samuel Greengard is a Baseline contributing writer who specializes in business and IT.

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