Canadian Businesses Struggle With How to Protect Their Data

By: Christine Persaud

May 22, 2019

Canadian businesses realize the threat that data hacks – which have been coming fast and furious these days – present to their sensitive data. But companies also struggle with the best steps to take in order to protect that data, especially when it comes to new forms of data from emerging technologies like AI and machine learning.

According to a global study by Dell EMC, the Global Data Protection Index, which surveyed 2,200 IT decision makers in both public and private organizations and with more than 250 employees across 18 countries, most businesses recognize the value of their data. Canadian businesses score above average with 97% recognizing the value of data, yet they struggle with how to implement adequate data protection measures. Canadian businesses are, on average, less confident in their data protection infrastructure and their ability to meet future challenges. In other words, there’s a huge gap between how much Canadian businesses understand the importance of data protection, and the maturation of their own strategies to provide it.

By the Data Protection Numbers

Overall, Canadian businesses managed 11.45B (!) of data in 2018, which was considerably higher than the global average of 9.7PB, and worlds above the “paltry” 1.1PB in 2016.

The threats are real, as a vast majority (72%) of Canadian businesses experienced a disruption over the past year, with 16% experiencing “irreparable data loss.” This is slightly lower than the global average of 76% and 27%, respectively.

Despite these catastrophic or at least somewhat damaging events, nearly half (44%) of those surveyed

are struggling to find suitable data protection solutions for newer technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. This is in line with the global average of about 45%.

Some businesses seem to be up to speed, or at least feel that they are, with 34% of Canadian respondents saying that they are “very confident” that their data protection infrastructure is compliant with existing regulations, which is just 1% shy of the global average. However, only 11% believe their data protection solutions will meet all future challenges, lower than the global average of 16%.

Seventy-six per cent of respondents worldwide are already using at least two data protection vendors, which, ironically, makes then 35% more likely to experience some type of disruption compared to those that only use a single vendor. Unplanned systems downtime was the most common type of disruption for Canadian businesses (54%) using two or more vendors, followed by ransomware attack that prevented access to data (17%) and data loss (39%). Those in Canada that encountered downtime experienced 25 hours of downtime compared to the global average of 20 hours in the last 12 months, costing Canadians approximately $584,615. But for those who lost data, they lost an average of 6.15 terabytes with a price tag of nearly $1.2 million. Five per cent of Canadian respondents whose organization experienced data loss or unplanned downtime in the past 12 months reported paying punitive fines as a result as well. Losing data, or experiencing unauthorized access to it, doesn’t just directly impact a company’s bottom line dollars and cents. Many of those who experienced a disruption said it had far-reaching business impacts beyond money, from customer trust to brand equity and employee productivity.

What are the Challenges to Implementing Adequate Data Protection?

According to those surveyed, 88% of Canadians have encountered at least one challenge when it comes to implementing data protection measures. The most common ones are the lack of data protection solutions for emerging technologies; ensuring compliance with regulations, such as the GDPR; and escalating costs of storing and managing data backups.

Most notably, almost half of Canadian businesses say they can’t find suitable data protection solutions for AI and machine learning data; along with cloud-based native applications (61%) and IoT (25%). Use of these cloud-based systems, which has increased globally from 28% in 2016 to 40% in 2018, is most commonly leveraged in Canada for public cloud workloads, SaaS apps, on-premises workloads/data, long-term retention, and archiving.

Bottom Line

It’s a delicate balance between acquiring so much customer and business data, using it to further a business and offer great service and/or products, and ensuring that it’s sufficiently protected against attacks. A company shouldn’t even consider using the latest technologies to their benefit without also examining and determining how they will protect the data they collect and store; and making sure this is done from the get-go. It’s in not only the customers’ interests, but the business’ as well.

“Emerging technologies such as AI and IoT are frequently the focus of an organization’s digital transformation,” says Beth Phalen, President and General Manager, Dell EMC Data Protection Division. “But the data those technologies generate is absolutely key in their transformation journey. The nearly 50 per cent growth of data protection adopters and fact that the majority of business now recognize the value of data proves that we are on a positive path to protecting and harnessing the data that drives human progress.”

Related:  Data Protection


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