Data Security: The Stakes Grow

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There's nothing special about getting a Dell computer catalog in the mail-once you buy a Dell, you're a pen pal for life. But the last catalog was an eye-opener for me (which means I haven't been paying enough attention) in terms of the capabilities of the new lines. There are desktop machines that can store 1TB of data, machines with drive mirroring and modern cooling systems.

Holy mainframe, Batman!

Well, these are things that were once the domain of mainframes, and later heavy-duty servers. Now, you too can have a machine with what Dell calls "Revolutionary 2-stage hybrid cooling on H2C." This means the system generates so much heat that a simple fan can't do it any more. It's no wonder that online backup is now included with some systems for the first year. And this is a machine designed for small business.

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We already know that data security is a major issue for all businesses and you probably don't need to know that the AICPA named information security its No. 1 technology issue, with the related issues of Identity and Access Management No. 2, Privacy Management No. 4 and Securing and Controlling Information Distribution No. 7.

If your organization has a terabyte of data on one system, you better make sure that security of all types is in place. That includes performing backups, with policies that are enforced, anti-malware software to make sure it doesn't get destroyed, corrupted or sent to someone in Eastern Europe, anti-theft procedures, so someone doesn't walk off with your equipment, and about anything else that you can think of that fits into the category of security.

There is a leg-bone-connected-to-the-thigh-bone principal here. Mirrored drives - having a second copy of data created on a second drive, pretty much a technology spare tire - are great. But the same flood or fire that can wipe out a single drive can destroy the spare, so there's no getting away from the need for off-site backup.

The increasing connectivity of devices also ups the ante. Having Voice over Internet Protocol can be great, but it means that when your network goes down, the phone system goes down too. Extend that to your home where having everything on cable means you can lose phone, cable TV and Internet service in one blow. And if your voice mail messages can be sent as a file to your email system, then those conversations are susceptible to the problems that can occur with all email messages.

Increasing capabilities help business, but they also leave it more vulnerable since one problem can take everything out. Care is needed more than ever to prevent disasters from wrecking electronic havoc.

Now, you didn't think this was going to get any easier, did you?

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Editor Robert Scott also writes "Consulting Insights," a free, twice-monthly electronic newsletter that addresses issues concerning the consulting and reselling market. It's insight with an attitude. If you want to subscribe, put the following in your browser address line: subscribe.webcpa.com. You can also visit us at www.accountingtechnology.com.

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