Half of British SMEs Have Lost Data in Past Five Years

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Nearly half (48%) of the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have lost access to data since 2019, potentially costing them billions, according to a new study from Beaming.

The business ISP polled 504 UK-based business leaders about their data backup and cybersecurity strategies, as well as any incidents of data loss they experienced between 2019 and 2023. It then extrapolated its findings to a national level, taking the median cost of incidents it investigated and using government estimates for the business population size.

Beaming’s report, Data Backup & Business Continuity: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, revealed that 15% of overall businesses in the UK have lost data temporarily or permanently since 2019 – which could amount to more than 800,000 companies nationwide.

Among the causes of such losses were hardware theft or failure, cybercrime, data management errors, fire and flooding.

The report claimed this may have cost them as much as £5.3bn ($6.7bn) over the period in costs relating to data recovery, financial penalties, lost productivity during downtime, and the cost of replacing people or assets caught up in incidents. However, these cost estimates didn’t include potential reputational damage, so the real figure could be much higher.

Read more on data backups: Backup Repositories Targeted in 93% of Ransomware Attacks.

Unfortunately, the report also highlighted that poor backup practices are widespread. Around half of respondents were assessed to be relying on flawed backup processes, with a further quarter not backing up corporate data at all.

Backup Best Practices

Just a quarter of businesses committed to backup best practices. Beaming said this should include:

  • Systematic data backup to offsite locations, with the business in control of the location, the method of backup and associated policies and procedures
  • Backup of mission-critical data at least daily, making it easier to return to business as usual after a disruptive event
  • Air-gapped data backups, isolated from the internet, for an extra layer of protection against unauthorized access, cloud service outages and ransomware
  • Encryption of data in motion between primary and backup locations, such as via VPNs or managed networks

Ahead of World Backup Day on March 31, Beaming managing director, Sonia Blizzard explained that a robust backup strategy is key to effective risk management and business continuity planning.

“It safeguards critical data, supports recovery efforts, and helps maintain a business’s resilience and reputation in the face of these challenges,” she added.

“The good news is that more businesses are making more effort to back up their data than five years ago. The bad news is that most haven’t gone far enough, especially given the growing importance of data to businesses today.”

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