When the Resilience of the Web Comes Back to Haunt You

The Internet is truly a work of genius. From the original DARPA brainwave about a network that would reroute around failure to the social media that have brought billions of people together, the Internet is a wonder of the world as much as the Egyptian pyramids and the Taj Mahal. It is a fascinating thought that people can connect from anywhere on the planet to create and run companies in cyberspace or to enhance competitiveness and business continuity for existing companies. By comparison, it is a sobering thought that you may never know if data you stored in the web, even temporarily, can ever be definitively and utterly deleted.

Some cloud providers guarantee the elimination of your data when you have finished using their services. In that case it is important to find out more about the deletion method used – whether data is simply tagged as available space to be overwritten with new files, or if storage media are reformatted or re-recorded with random data patterns. However, staff may also be using other web storage for business purposes where no such guarantee is given. Popular file share and synchronisation services have become so intuitive that employees can immediately use them to transfer data between mobile devices, for instance. The problem for their companies is that little or no data security precautions are taken.

Just as resilient and even more challenging to company data confidentiality, social networks can open up employee comments, corporate data and company files to anyone who’s listening. The most realistic assumption may be that whatever you (personally or professionally) publish on social media can literally live on forever. The business continuity that is now designed into huge computing resources of Facebook and Google is great for their reputation – but make not be quite so good for yours. So always think twice before letting data, especially confidential data, out of your controlled company environment and out into the world wide and universally accessible web.