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Is your data digital gold?

Author : Chris Whitehead, Networks & Recovery Product Manager, SolutionsPT

07 May 2021

We know gold is one of the most valuable materials on the planet, and we know data is valuable too. But just how valuable to your organisation is your data?

During normal day to day operation your organisation is generating and consuming data and is often considered to be the life blood of the operation. The breadth of its uses is often overlooked, from production data to personnel records, suppliers to customers and many other uses too. Having access to accurate and complete data allows you to make well informed decisions for your business, but if this data wasn’t available, you would be making decisions based on assumptions or best guesses – this is far from a sustainable business strategy. Understanding just how critical this data is to your daily operation is essential and understanding how you can protect such a valuable asset is just as important. 

Cost per gram 

Looking at a range of recent architectures we have developed for a range of clients, we have observed a typical data storage requirement of around 3TB. Clearly with modern drives we could assume this would all fit onto a single drive, but for the sake of this example we will assume it’s on a minimum of three drives to eliminate a single point of failure.   

We looked at a number of drives and the typical weight is around 115g. As of today, the gold price in the UK is £42 per gram, so by my calculations 3TB of solid gold data would be worth in the region of £14,490. I’d be willing to take a guess that your control system and all its data would be significantly more value to your organisation than £15,000. 

Protecting your assets 

If we take this literally, and had three solid gold bars worth £5,000 each, you would take some steps to protect them and keep them safe! You really wouldn’t want to lose one of them or damage them. I’d hazard a guess you would keep them in some form of box, which would be locked and kept in a safe, in a heavily secured room. You might even go a step further and split them up and keep them in separate locations too.   

Now, if we scaled these gold bars to be representative of a control system, each one would be in the region of £50,000 and I'm pretty sure you would be making sure they were well protected. This is how you should view your data, as an incredibly valuable asset, and consider the impact of losing it, or losing access to it. How would your operation continue? What would the impact to the bottom line be? Could you recover from it? Would the brand be damaged by it too? 

Lost treasure 

There are many considerations as to the risks of data loss, as well as the many possible root causes of it. It’s not uncommon for physical devices to fail, whether that’s a spinning drive that suddenly develops the clunk of death, or a power supply that lets go and wipes out all the components in the system. I’m sure you’ve heard many stories along these lines before, but also in the current digital age we are in, cyber threats are a very real and prominent issue to contend with. There is an ever-changing array of malware and ransomware out in the wild which could affect your systems.

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