Data on desktops and laptops is still a vastly exposed risk area, according to the 2010 Cibecs Data Loss survey, which underlines the massive risk South African businesses are exposed to in the event of data loss through any number of everyday occurrences.

According to Richard Dewing, CEO of Cibecs: “Most companies have server backup solutions in place, but focus is now shifting to user data stored on desktops and notebooks, and the protection of this data. This is where a backup and recovery vacuum exists.”
The survey highlights that nearly half (46%) of companies rely on some kind of backup policy, be it to a file server or external hard drive, to ensure business critical data is backed up.  But these companies admit that users do not follow policy as their main obstacle in terms of successful data protection.
Dewing explains: “In our experience, we have seen that the reality is that users will never follow data backup policies because, frankly, they forget, do not know how to, think it will take too much time and, quite often, do not want their data on a server where it could be accessed by a third party.”
The survey also highlighted other trends:
* 72% of data losses are ascribed to hardware and software failures, theft and negligence;
* 68% of respondents do not think that their current data backup solution is highly effective; and
* 50% are unsure if their company could recover business critical data in the event of a loss.
These trends are most worrying considering that hard drives store 500 times more data than a decade ago, which means the impact of such a loss is vastly amplified. With 68% of respondents indicating a lack of complete confidence in their current backup solution, the disastrous financial, legal and productivity ramifications may be one unlucky day away.
Dewing explains: “Companies increasingly realise they need a better solution to the data backup and recovery problem but, as the survey shows, the majority are not quite sure of exactly what it is they need. This is simply part of a legacy where the amount of data wasn’t nearly as vast and unstructured as it is today. The truth is that older technologies and methods are just not manageable or practical. Legislation like King III in South Africa has also forced companies to protect the integrity of their business critical and sensitive data.
“So much information is stored on company desktops and laptops, especially as we move to a more mobile society, that companies are beginning to understand the need to take responsibility for that data away from users and manage it from one central location.”
Over and above the usual impact on company finances, reputation and productivity, the actual cost of data loss is substantial. It leads to loss of business and loss of revenue. A great deal of time and resources have to be allocated to attempting to get the lost data back or recreating it.  Data loss also negatively impacts the ability of a business to sustain its operational efficiency, ultimately impacting the bottom line.
Dewing explains: “The objective of this survey was to highlight the business and operational risks organisations are exposed to. We also wanted to impress upon business owners and IT executives the need to proactively plan for that inevitable ‘bad day at the office’.
"The survey data proved that businesses and enterprises do not fully appreciate the risks they face from the loss of data stored on user PCs.  We do hope that that this survey has alerted a few more IT professionals to the business case for reliable data backup and recovery software for desktops and laptops."