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Small businesses in S'pore prone to data loss

Singapore's smaller companies put critical information at risk as they lack effective systems and best practices to prevent and recover from data loss, according to survey.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor

Small businesses in Singapore are particularly prone to data loss, with such incidents having occured at more than half of these companies in the past two years, according to a new survey.

Conducted early this year by StollzNow Research on behalf of data recovery provider Kroll Ontrack, the study asked IT managers from 945 companies in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia about their views and experiences regarding data management.

Kroll Ontrack said in a press statement Wednesday, 62 percent of Singapore companies with fewer than 50 employees said they suffered data loss in the last couple of years. This was higher than the regional average, where about half of all respondents said they experienced data loss due to viruses, natural disasters, accidental deletion, system crashes, corruption or hardware failure.

Adrian Briscoe, general manager, Ontrack Data Recovery APAC, said smaller Singapore companies were also experiencing data loss at higher levels than larger Singapore companies, as well as their Australian and Hong Kong counterparts.

"This may be due to a variety of reasons, including lack of management attention and time spent in proactively implementing strategies to minimise the potential for lost data," Briscoe said in the press statement.

Small companies in Singapore were also less likely than their larger counterparts to have implemented a policy for the preservation of data. While 59 percent of Singaporean respondents reported that their company had a formalized data retention policy, this fell to 40 percent for small companies.

Across the three markets, 49 percent of small companies said they failed to back up their data on a daily basis, despite 37 percent of those acknowledging that data loss could have a significant impact on their business.

"Data loss and associated challenges can have a devastating effect on business productivity, yet, the survey shows that small companies are often ill-equipped to deal with data loss and appear to neglect the importance of implementing simple procedures for protecting their data," said Briscoe.

Infrequent backup tests
The survey also found that many small companies in the three markets were not testing their backup systems on a regular basis, with 35 percent admitting to checking them only "sporadically".

"The best way to manage data loss is to prepare for it before the loss occurs. Making a backup and failing to check the validity of it is one of the most common mistakes companies make," said Briscoe.

However, he said poor data management was not a concern that was exclusive to small businesses, with companies of all sizes tending to take a "set and forget" approach.

"Many companies do a great job with rollout of their data management system, but then no one revisits it on a regular basis to make sure it is still functioning effectively," he added.

In the survey, 24 percent of companies polled had no formal policy for erasing sensitive data, which meant they were not destroying their sensitive information systematically.

Kroll Ontrack cautioned that data can be put at risk when end-of-lifecycle or unwanted computer hardware is not completely and securely erased. "This raises the potential for business-critical information to fall into the wrong hands," it said.

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