Data protection means more than one thing to your business. It refers to its security, the maintenance of customer privacy and your continued access to data. Technology can help you protect your business data.

Most people think of data protection in terms of data availability, a data backup that lets them quickly restore lost files. It's also the data management or security that ensures protection from hackers, inappropriate sharing or sale, etc. It functions as an integral piece of business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR).

The protection of data extends to virus and Trojan protection. The recent ransomware attacks of WannaCry and NotPetya show the continued need for such security measures. This includes a business's anti-virus and malware software, as well as, its security methods including firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs).

Customer and employee privacy also comprise an important component of data protection. This includes a business's privacy policy and its methods of enforcement. It includes a business's choice of customer relationship software (CRS) and human resources management software (HRMS).

Common Types of Data Protection

As technology grows, so do the types and methods of data protection. Five common types or methods of data protection include:

1. Cloud Backup

Technology has progressed beyond tape and DAT backups to the cloud. With cloud backup, information automatically copies from the business's local machines to a virtual server. One common example of this is an iPhone backing up photos and videos automatically to a user's Apple Drive, aka iDrive. Enterprise cloud backup is the business version of a single person's iDrive.

The main advantage of cloud storage is its remote location. If a company loses local data due to a fire or flood, for example, its backup remains protected. Immediate access provides another important advantage. Although stored remotely, the data remains only a mouse click away. A business can set backup timing to its needs - once per day, hourly, immediate, etc. Once backed up, IT can easily image the backup.

Cloud backup has two main disadvantages. First, it requires hefty bandwidth and a high-speed Internet connection. Second, some cloud backup software has a steep learning curve and lacks ease of use. Employees might find it tough to use to restore lost files on their own machines, creating just as much work for IT staff as other methods.

2. Data Backup Using Data Deduplication

Data backup using data deduplication creates a local or remote copy of a business's data, but reduces storage needs by eliminating redundant data. It deploys pointers to each copy of a data piece and subsequently updates the backup of only the changed copy of the data.

Besides reduced backup storage needs, this also provides an efficient way of rolling back to last changed copy of a file. Think of it as version control for your backups. The downside to this becomes that some departments or individuals may need different versions of a file.

3. Synchronous Mirroring

Synchronous mirroring bears close resemblance to cloud backup except a mirror functions as a complete copy in and of itself. If you download a large file, such as an .apk, an Android app file, the app store offers multiple mirrors from which to choose. Each server contains an exact copy of all the same information as the others, including the one you visited online. Some app stores have four or more mirrors.

The advantage a mirror provides becomes the ability to access a second, fully functional remote copy of the business's data. Not simply a backup of data to download, but a functional duplicate server. This allows immediate access in case of hazard or disaster. One simply switches servers.

A mirror server requires 100 percent "capacity overhead." Every local change immediately writes to the other server, using an extreme amount of bandwidth. The two or more servers constantly trade data with the mirror's write considered incomplete until it sends write conformation.

4. RAID Protection

Another option, RAID protection, combines a number of physical drives that appear as a single unit to the operating system. This lets the backup break up the data across multiple drives which better protects the data and reduces overhead capacity.

RAID has to calculate parity making it a slower backup and restoration alternative. It uses a great deal of computing resources. You can install an advanced, intelligent RAID system that doesn't need to read the entire set of drives to recover data stored on one.

5. Replication

Scale-out storage uses either erasure coding or replication to backup data. Erasure coding writes both data and parity across multiple storage nodes. All nodes can work together to restore a failed node, reducing computing resource drains. It works more quickly than a traditional RAID. Data replication mirrors data from one node to one or many other nodes. It consumes about twice the storage capacity of erasure coding, but is simpler to use.

Data Protection Facts

Regardless of the data protection type or method, three factors remain vital to the backup:

  • data integrity,

  • error/corruption protection,

  • privacy.

Any method chosen needs to place these keys above all else.

Instituting a data protection program differs for each business. Each company needs a custom solution because no two companies are the same. A startup's needs vary vastly from those of a corporate enterprise with multiple offices. Consider the following when determining company needs and instituting your backup.

  • Location matters. Laws concerning privacy and data vary by country. For example, while the US has various laws in the area by industry or in regard to age groups targeted by a website, the UK passed the Data Protection Act of 1998 which applies to all businesses and industries and protects user data including how it's obtained and with whom a company may share it.

  • According to a 2016 Malwarebytes study, ransomware affected 40 percent of businesses in 2015. Of those businesses, the ransomware attack closed 20 percent.

  • Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), an emerging option, combines data backup, replication and staff to manage the recovery process post-disaster. This managed service provides an option especially useful to businesses without IT personnel.