Telewire, Inc., a leading managed services provider (MSP), is helping small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) avoid costly penalties and fines associated with poor data management policies. As more organizations have been publicly affected by cyberattacks in the mainstream news, governments have responded by increasing their scrutiny on the IT and data management practices of SMBs across the nation. Since the public has growing concerns over data privacy, governments are enforcing stricter laws to ensure compliance across a wide array of industries and having an effective, comprehensive data retention policy is vital to ensure compliance. As a result, Telewire is proactively educating and protecting local businesses from being struck with financial, civil or even criminal penalties, especially when all of those costs are so unnecessary.
Data retention policies are under much more scrutiny than ever before because the public has grown weary of lackluster cybersecurity measures, frequent data breaches and the common misuse of personal data. In other words, governments are starting to increase the pressure they place on SMBs to adhere to strict regulations in order to keep end users’ data protected. One of the clearest ways to demonstrate that your organization has addressed these concerns is by organizing your data and giving it structure through a data retention policy. Bryan Murfree, President of Telewire, stated, “The core concept to understand is data now has a ‘shelf life.’ If data is stored improperly, irresponsibly or negligently, regulators are not taking it lightly anymore. For example, depending on which industry you’re in, you need to understand how long you’re legally permitted to store certain data. In some industries you’re permitted to store customer credit card details, but in others you cannot store certain details, like the CVV/CVC ‘code on the back’ to remain in compliance. With stricter regulations coming down from the federal government, we’re trying to advise as many business owners as possible to keep them educated, compliant and penalty-free.”
Another example of a precarious regulation that business owners commonly overlook is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which can cost businesses up to $7,500 if they deliberately violate a California consumer’s data privacy rights, regardless of where the company’s is located. In other words, even if your business is not based in California but you merely have a couple customers from there, you could be penalized for not adhering to these data policies. While compliance is the main driver compelling businesses to reevaluate their data retention policies, there are plenty of other reasons to keep sensitive data well-organized. Here are a few areas SMBs should consider when setting up their data retention policies:
1. Cost Reduction – Most employees will default to storing every piece of data they ever create. Without thinking, this can lead to bloated networks, underperforming technology and ultimately, significant storage costs. Data retention policies should include a segmentation and prioritization process of datasets to ensure that the right data is saved and easily accessible, and obsolete data is discarded so the company is continually reducing its liability in the event of a breach.
2. Quicker Recovery from Outages – In the event of an outage, employees need to be able to recover data quickly so the business can resume operations without causing unnecessary downtime. Taking the time to set up a data retention policy enables employees to more easily access key data, streamlining recovery/flexibility. Essentially, outages only cause downtime if the organization is already underprepared in the first place. A robust data retention policy can limit these risks and limit a company’s recovery time back to full capacity.
3. Hybrid Storage – Many businesses face challenges when they attempt to digitize all of their records (especially when it comes to cloud integrations) and wind up having partial records in digital form, whereas other records are still on paper. Obviously, this can lead to unbalanced data policies, which may appear to limit liability, however, in effect they only make a bigger mess. This is another reason why it’s so important to have a data retention policy established, so that you can ensure effective records management regardless of which mediums you use to maintain your records.