I’m out on blogger vacation this week. The keys to TheKmiecs.com have been turned over to a few, select, awesome guest writers. The following has not been edited by me and is the work and effort of the original author. I appreciate the time and thinking that went into this post and hope you will too. Enjoy!
There are countless examples of companies losing customer data or getting information stolen. This is not the kind of press companies need or want. It puts thoughts in customer’s heads who may shop there that their information is not safe. They may stop shopping at that store and take their business elsewhere. There is so much that companies can do to protect customer’s data but they choose not to because of cost or they just think it can’t happen to them.
This can be the end of a company, web property, or any piece of data. Let’s face it: Data is money in today’s world. This happens to some companies and you hear about it in the news. There are a large number of companies that do not make the news when this happens. They can keep it quiet which is a scary thought. TJX, parent company of TJ Maxx, had their systems hacked and customer information was stolen. My wife loves TJ Maxx and I told her what happened. She was concerned that we would be hurt by it. I was worried myself. Think of other customers that think the same thing and maybe talk about it at the water cooler the next day after the news came out.
Other companies flat out lose things that are important. Citigroup had a box of backup tapes that were lost in transit. 3.9 Million Customers were and are at risk for possible identity theft. This happens all the time. Laptops are stolen out of cars. Businesses get broken into and get their computers stolen. Companies need to be careful when given the responsibility of taking care of customer’s information. Customers trust companies to provide services or goods. Don’t lose a customer’s trust by data loss or a security breach.
There are more recent examples of data loss that affected online communities. Ma.gnolia.com had a serious melt down and lost both the primary data and their backups. Ma.gnolia was a bookmarking site much like delicious.com. The site was essentially blown away and never to be running again. Did you notice where Ma.gnolia.com took you? People put trust into Ma.gnolia to store their bookmarks in the “cloud.” Ma.gnolia lost all credibility and a large number of users (if not all). Twitter went nuts over it. People started saying that “Storing data in the cloud is bad news…etc.”
A recent example of data loss or poor planning was at codinghorror.com. The following are two twitter statuses here and here. He managed to get some of his data back from cache. The ironic part is that this site has numerous articles on it about backing up data. They relied on the hosting companies backups. Never put faith in something that you can’t see. Ask questions about how things are backed up. Don’t lose their trust.
My main point by going through some of these examples (some old one) is that companies provide services and products in exchange for customer data and customer use. One screw up and you can lose all credibility with your competitors and in the particular market that you service. Word gets around fast on the Internet (thanks Twitter). Data loss can be a companies worst nightmare. You business can just disappear only to be be the talk of Twitter and be used as examples of how not to do business.
A few parting tips:
- Makes sure your systems are backed up both on-site and off-site from your servers. Test these backups and restore them to make sure they are indeed good backups and that they are retrievable in case of a failure.*
- Ensure that you are running the latest software that is available. Keep things updated. Hire an outside company to test your security systems. Don’t assume all is well.*
- Tell the press and warn customers if you or your company does lose data. Some credibility will be spared if you “man up” and notify customers. Don’t sit on it or sweep it under the rug.*
- Hire smart employees that can keep your systems safe and secure. Make sure things a tested often.*
* Don’t worry if you do not understand some of these items. Ask your employer what they are doing to keep your info safe and their customers. It may not be your responsibility as your job but you can take an active part in asking the right questions.
The interesting parallel on this is how are you backing up your personal life? Do you have gigabytes of family pictures on your computer at home? What if your house burns down? What if the computer is stolen while you are working out at the gym? Think about how much of your life resides as “Digital Data” today. You are your own business. Don’t make the news.
Written by Matt Brauchler, tech maven, new dad, lawn perfectionist and a System Administrator. Technology is his passion.