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     It Wasn't A Tornado Or Earthquake...It Was Email

With the severe weather we've experienced this last year, now is the perfect time for a business to consider what a CATASTROPHE would do to its operation. But it doesn't have to be a tornado or the flood of '93 to be considered a major disaster anymore. Businesses can officially include MALICIOUS emails that show up disguised from "grandma" as one of the top threats on the list. With the growing number of computer viruses, as well as the number of cases where data has been damaged as a result of unauthorized access, never before has a company's health been so at risk. Business must get smart about managing the growing RISK of critical data loss.

For example, on June 14th, 1999, eBay executives, employees, traders, investors, the media, and the world watched as eBay stock value plummeted by $4 billion dollars. The devaluation occurred because of an all-day (22-hour) OUTAGE on its auction site. Executives at eBay estimated that the impact included a drop of $3 to $5 million in sales. Every hour that eBay was down resulted in an estimated $200,000 in lost sales. And the cost went higher than it should have because eBay didn't have the SYSTEMS in place to recover quickly from a data loss.

With each day that goes by organizations are becoming more DEPENDENT on technology and more vulnerable to disasters, law suits and events that can take down the organization for weeks at a time. The PROTECTION of critical data stored on personal computers, laptops and remote servers has never been more important. Ask any professional if they would rather be without their phone service for a week or their email and the dependence on technology will be evident.

In one quick swoop an entire system can be wiped out from an employee opening a single attachment from a family member. A serious question most businesses need to ask themselves is, "When is the last time we improved our backup procedure? Or tested a restore or simply kept up with technology? Am I being penny wise and pound foolish?" The bottom line is that businesses efforts to plan for disasters needs to GROW with the times. If a business doesn't already have a Disaster Recovery Plan, creating one should be right next to waking up in the morning on the owner's to do list. If one already exists, has the plan IMPROVED to adequately protect against the growing vulnerabilities and changes in technology?

Whether it is new legislation that is forcing a business to comply or recent data loss that is bringing a new awareness, it is time to understand that this ritual called "backups" is really about RESTORING data. The fact remains that the simplest restore process that works is better than the most elaborate backup procedure that doesn't. For most businesses, this can be done quite easily.

How do they turn a backup plan into a restore process? TEST it. Many users back up their data only to find their backups useless in that crucial moment when they need to restore from them. Storage magazine, a leading technology publication conducted a poll of their readers titled "Do you test your backups?" They found that although 66% of the respondents regularly test their backup tapes, another 77% discovered failed restores. Is it worth the effort for businesses to test these restores? Yes, when you consider that over three quarters of those that have tested their tapes have unearthed FAILURES.

By longstanding information technology practice, backups encompass data stored on SERVERS, not workstations. "If you want your files backed up, the policy goes, don't store them on your desktop." And as for laptops? Forget it. It's up to the user to back up anything vital. Unfortunately, this mindset runs into a problem with the explosive growth of MOBILE computing. By the end of this year, mobile users will have grown to as many as 60 million, according to International Data Corp . To compound the problem, about 7 million of those laptops will be badly damaged, lost, or stolen.

As more business professionals utilize laptops as their PRIMARY computers, more and more information is being stored on those hard drives. According to Gartner research, 60 to 80 percent of corporate data resides on desktop or laptop hard drives. Laptops in the field are also exposed to extreme conditions from bouncing around on a plane to constant connectivity to the Internet. These laptops and critical data are far more VULNERABLE to theft, natural disaster, hardware failure, viruses and human error. However, little attention is being paid to protecting these computers because it has been difficult up until now. And with laptops, the implementation of regular backup procedures is far more difficult.

In order to effectively protect this data on a regular basis, the PROCESS must be automated. New technologies are enabling laptop users to securely backup their data through the internet to a secure location managed by a service provider. This process is called "electronic VAULTING" and is growing in popularity. Electronic vaulting allows the user to select the critical data, setup a daily schedule and let the process run. Each day at a predetermined time the service wakes the computer, scans for any changed data, encrypts the files for complete security and backs up the data to a secure off-site location -- all without any MANUAL intervention. After the service runs the business is emailed a report confirming the events. Availability of bandwidth, advances in data compression and new security measures have made this solution a reality. Now even the smallest business can afford a solution like this.

The growing numbers of mobile users is just one example of how businesses need to evaluate their disaster planning and data backup needs on a regular basis. Times are CHANGING and so are risks. As technology grows, so should a disaster plan. The bottom line is that data is becoming increasingly more valuable and exponentially more vulnerable. Are you PREPARED?


Dave Gambino is President and CEO of e-Backups.net, a leading provider of fully managed online data backup and recovery services. Mr. Gambino has over 10 years of experience delivering technology-based solutions and online services. For more information on protecting your critical data, please visit his web page at www.e-marketingtech.com/ebu.htm or email him at .

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