Part 1: Why Tape Rolls On – Security

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Security (n.) Safety. Freedom from worry. Protection. (From Merriam Webster)

Famed bank robber Willie Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks, was quoted as saying, “Because that’s where the money is.”  Today, the money is in the information.  Safeguarding information from deliberate criminal or destructive acts and inadvertent system problems is crucial.  Tape plays a valuable role in delivering that safety.

The Ponemon Institute reported in early 2011 that the cost of a data breach had risen to $214 per individual record and $7.2M per breach.  Insurance against such high dollar events can result in a great return on investment should something go wrong.  One of the first, and still best, methods of insuring against breach scenarios is through data encryption on tape.  Given that the cost of an enterprise tape system can run sub 15 cents per GB with each gigabyte storing thousands of files, valued at $214 per file per Ponemon, the cost of tape encryption insurance is little more than a rounding error relative to the cost of a data breach incident.

Business continuance can be preserved through the use of tape storage like no other simply because tape can be “unplugged” from the system.  As now defunct Australian web hosting firm distribute.IT learned, failure to adequately protect its data with off-line storage i.e., tape, resulted in 30 minutes worth of hacker mayhem putting the company out of business.  4,800 of its customers lost their data with no recourse while the negative business implications of the attack cascaded through distribute.IT’s customer base and affiliates.  Failure to have off-line tape backups allowed the attack to destroy the firm’s disk-based backup data rendering the company inert.

Aside from deliberate mischief, having tape involved in your data security equation provides insurance against accidental or unintended events that can adversely affect a portion, or all, of your firm’s customer base.  Google learned earlier this year the value of tape as tape rescued user emails when a software glitch propagated itself through part of the Gmail system.  Without having data safely segregated from system-wide problems on tape, over 40,000 Gmail users would have lost their information permanently.

Say what you will about tape, but failure to ensure the integrity and availability of your data with tape copies off-line can have tremendously unfortunate consequences for your business.  Tape is highly secure, reliably ensuring data availability in the face of both deliberate or accidental data exposure and destruction.  Maybe that’s why tape rolls on.