New research from Infrascale indicates that 58 percent of C-level executives at small and medium businesses (SMBs) said their biggest data storage challenge is security vulnerability. Nearly half (49 percent) of top leaders at SMBs said cyberattacks are their biggest data protection concern. Yet more than 20 percent of SMB leaders said they do not currently have a data backup or disaster recovery solution in place.

The Infrascale research, conducted in March 2020, is based on a survey of more than 500 C-level executives. CEOs represented 87 percent of the group. Almost all of the remainder was split between CIOs and CTOs.

“In today’s data-driven world, seeing that over 20 percent of SMBs do not have a data protection solution in place is quite concerning,” said Russell P. Reeder, CEO of Infrascale. “Every modern company depends on data and operational uptime for its very survival, and there are some very accessible solutions available to companies of all sizes. Data protection and operational uptime have never been more important than during the unprecedented times we are currently facing.”


Data Protection Means Different Things to Different People

When asked what data protection means to them, 61 percent of the survey group named data security and encryption. The same share said data backup. Nearly as many (59 percent) defined data protection as data recovery, while 54 percent cited anti-malware services.

Forty-six percent said data protection addresses email protection. Data archiving and the ability to become operational quickly after a disaster each captured 45 percent of the survey group’s vote.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of the group said data protection means ransomware protection/mitigation. The same share named physical device protection for endpoints such as laptops and mobile phones. And nearly a third (32 percent) said that for them data protection involves processes that prevent user error.

“Data protection can come into play in a wide array of important ways – including data security and encryption, data recovery, email protection, and data archiving. It also provides the ability to recover quickly from a disaster, protection from and mitigation of ransomware, and physical device protection. Plus, it can mitigate user error,” said Reeder. “Data protection by way of backup and disaster recovery is essential for modern business. It really is the only way to ensure that a business can return to a pre-compromised state or to full working order as efficiently and effectively as possible.”


Opinions About Data Protection Vary by Industry as well

In the legal space, 89 percent of executives said data protection provides data security and encryption. Seventy-one percent of the top leaders in the healthcare sector agreed. Data security and encryption was the top answer among retail/ecommerce and telecommunications leaders as well, although with lower shares – 67 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

Top executives in education see data backup and data recovery as the most important aspects of data protection. Sixty-one percent of this group said they hold this belief. For 57 percent of the top leaders in accounting, banking or finance, data backup is the key concern in data protection.


Cyberattacks Are SMB Leaders’ Top Overall Data Protection Concern

The overall survey group said cyberattacks are the biggest data protection issue their companies are facing. Nearly half (49 percent) of the group voiced their concern about hacking.

Micro disasters such as corrupted hard drives and malware infections were the second most commonly indicated concern, garnering a 46 percent share from the group. System crashes (41 percent), data leaks (39 percent), ransomware attacks (38 percent), and human errors (38 percent) were next on the list.

There was some variation in sector response here as well. Top leaders in education (64 percent), telecommunications (63 percent) and healthcare (54 percent) said that micro disasters are their biggest data protection issues. But more than half of the survey respondents in both the retail (54 percent) and financial (53 percent) sectors said cyberattacks such as ransomware are their leading data protection challenges.

“Cyberattacks like ransomware are a major challenge for businesses today,” said Reeder. “Benjamin Franklin once said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. However, as criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated to make their attacks look legitimate, we have seen even the most protected environments become compromised. With a backup and disaster recovery solution in place, the power is out of the criminal’s hands. One can simply restore back to a pre-compromised state and not reward criminals for their actions.”


Most SMBs Have Data Protection in Place, But Those That Don’t Remain Unprotected

Views about data protection definitions – and what is most important to the protection of SMB data – may vary. But most SMBs clearly believe it is important to have a data protection and/or backup and disaster recovery solution in place, as 79 percent of the survey group said they already do.

However, while the majority has taken steps to protect data, the remainder – which represents a significant share at 21 percent – clearly has not. And 13 percent of SMB C-level executives said they do not have any data protection strategy in place. That leaves these businesses vulnerable.

“Each organization is different,” said Reeder. “But one thing all businesses have in common is a desire to eradicate downtime and data loss. Organizations can and should protect their data, and their businesses as a whole, by enabling comprehensive data protection with modern backup and disaster recovery solutions and strategies. This has never been more relevant than today, as much of the world has mobilized to a remote workforce. Consider the implications for a business should their data become compromised if it does not have a solution in place to quickly and effectively return to working order.”