Data Loss & Risk Assessment: Creating A Data Backup & Recovery Plan

October 30th, 2023
Data Loss & Risk Assessment: Creating A Data Backup & Recovery Plan

Data loss is an omnipresent risk for businesses of all sizes. When you lose access to vital data—be it your customer’s sensitive data, information about your vendors, pricing, or something else—you might not be able to operate your business.

Protecting your data means protecting your business—but when data loss comes in so many different forms, it can be hard to know which protections to put into place. After all, protecting your data always comes at a cost.

In this article, we’ll explore risk assessment—a key part of any data protection plan. We’re going to cover how to assess which risks are worth protecting yourself against, how to evaluate the costs of that protection, and what strategies you can implement to protect yourself against a variety of different data loss scenarios.

Step 1: Categorizing Your Data

The first step to risk assessment—and thus, the first step in your overall backup and recovery plan—is to determine which risks pose a threat to your business. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by doing an inventory of your data. Where is your data located—both physically and digitally? Remember that almost everything can be considered data, from customer information to app data.
  • Which pieces of data are the most valuable? Which are the least? Categorize all of the data on your servers. Ideally, you’ll put a system in place that allows you to categorize data as it is generated.
  • Step 2: Evaluating Potential Risks

    Once you’ve categorized your data, you can begin to evaluate risks. The types of risk can vary significantly depending on what type of data you’re trying to protect and where that data is located.

    Applications with add-ons, for example, may open up backdoors to your servers if those add-ons aren’t updated. This threat is very real—but it’s very different from the threat of an earthquake taking down the remote server hosting your data in California.

    Brainstorming a number of potential threats—each based on the data you’re trying to safeguard—is a surprisingly complicated task. You can use tools like ChatGPT to help you in this brainstorming process, but ideally, you’ll have an IT professional like the experts at Constant C helping you with this process.

    Step 3: Vulnerability Assessment and Threat Modelling

    Now that you’ve brainstormed potential threats, invent scenarios in which those threats occur. You might, for example, imagine a scenario where your company falls victim to a ransomware attack through a phishing email.

    Run a controlled test of this scenario. How long does it take to get your business back online? How much money do you lose in the process? What data is the attacker most likely to lock up as part of the ransomware attack?

    Vulnerability assessments like penetration testing can help you make these scenarios more realistic, as IT professionals actively look for vulnerabilities in your network, giving you insights into where attacks are likely to come from.

    Step 4: Create a Risk Matrix

    Having established what data needs to be protected, what risks you’ll need to tackle, and how costly those risks might be, you can create a matrix prioritizing the data and threats that pose the greatest risk to your business. In the process, we recommend creating:

  • Recovery time objectives (RTOs): What would be considered acceptable downtime in the event of data loss?
  • Recovery point objectives (RPOs): What would be considered an acceptable amount of data loss?
  • With these four steps completed, you’ll be able to create a plan of action to protect your data—a data backup and recovery plan as part of your business continuity plan. The pros at Constant C can help—call us today!