I was driving to work a couple of weeks ago, and as usual, I was listening to talk radio. Right before a commercial break, the host of the talk show announced that a researcher’s laptop had been stolen, with the potential cure for cancer lost. I thought to myself, “Oh, this is going to be good.” The next segment of the radio show begins with the host interviewing a researcher from the University of Oklahoma, who is pleading to whoever has the laptop to "please return the computer with the data saved, as it would tremendously help us AND you would be doing something for society.”
I wish the researcher the best of luck in retrieving his stolen laptop along with the data, but the odds of that happening are very slim. To hide any trace of a previous owner, all data on stolen computers is typically erased. But then again, we’re talking about petty thieves and they’re not the sharpest pencil in the box. Even if the hard drive isn’t erased, a new owner is likely to refresh the laptop, or at the very least erase all the data that doesn’t mean anything to them. In either scenario the data is more than likely gone forever.
When I hear stories like this I have to ask myself, why? Several years of hard work has been lost; if only it had been backed up. The U.S. Secret Service/Verizon recently published the 2010 Breech Report
. One of the findings was that 96 percent of data-related incidents could have been avoided by using basic controls. I believe this qualifies as one of those incidents.
The only positive thing to come from this person's hardship is that we have an opportunity to learn from the mistakes that led up to the incident:
- Once the data is gone, it’s gone forever.
- Store all business-related information on institutional servers; these systems are secure, redundant and backed up several times a day. If data is lost or accidently erased, it can usually be restored in a short amount of time.
- The data on a laptop can be easily lost with a hard drive crash. Never depend on desktops, laptops or any other single drive device to protect your data from loss.
BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!
Need I say more?
Remember: Information SecU-R-ITy