One scenario that any office manager will inevitably dread is the logistical nightmare that is moving to new premises. Whether you’re a booming business that’s outgrowing its existing space, or you’re looking to move into more economical digs, making sure the big day goes smoothly is just as stressful for a business as it is in your personal life.
This is something I’m well aware of at the moment, as we at Kroll Ontrack are moving ourselves this weekend. And in between packing up boxes and sorting out issues such as moving our communications and utilities, it’s got me thinking about another critical – yet often overlooked – factor that needs to be considered when moving offices. Namely, how can you be sure your digital data is secure throughout the process?
Ensuring your data is secure
An office move is a prime opportunity for data to end up corrupted, lost or in the wrong hands. Whether it is careless movers dropping and smashing hard drives, or hardware simply disappearing in transit, there are a range of security risks that need to be taken into account when planning a move.
Therefore, I’ve put together a list of some of the most common potential problems that you need to address.
Protecting your hardware
Damage to data storage hardware is a common problem and some types of equipment will be more vulnerable than others to issues such as physical impacts, changes in temperature or damp. But regardless of whether you’re transporting PC hard disk drives, servers or magnetic tapes, careful packaging and handling is essential if you want to avoid needing to engage a data recovery specialist to retrieve loss information.
Before embarking on a move, you should also check equipment for any potential problems. For example, you need to check for unusual noises coming from hard disk drives or error indicators such as warning LEDs. These may indicate that a device is already starting to degrade, and so will be more fragile and vulnerable to bumps and scrapes.
Maintain the chain of custody
When data storage devices are being handed from one person to another throughout the moving process, this presents prime opportunities for items to be lost or stolen in transit. To minimise the risk of this, it’s important to maintain a clear chain of custody throughout the process, so it is easy to spot who is responsible for the data at any given point.
The best way to do this is to make sure each item is sealed after being securely packed. This seal should be checked for tampering at each stage of the move and only broken once the storage device is safely at the new location. In the unlikely event of a data breach, the person in charge of the move will be able to provide clear answers about what has happened – something that may be vital for regulatory or insurance purposes.
Similarly, it’s important that everything is documented – and I do mean everything, up to which cables connect where. Particularly if you’re moving large servers with complex wiring, any changes in how they’re set up when installed in the old office could lead to problems later on.
Every PC, hard drive, USB stick and networking hardware needs to be clearly labelled and any changes logged. Ideally, there should be a hard copy of these records in addition to one stored digitally.
Don’t overlook physical security
It’s also vital that you don’t overlook the physical security of your premises – both old and new – when engaged in a move. I know all too well what a chaotic time this can be for businesses, with people coming in and out of offices at all hours as they try to get the move done with the minimum of disruption. The result of this is any opportunist could take their chance to walk in and help themselves to equipment.
That’s why it’s vital that physical security policies aren’t loosened during the moving process. It may be tempting to simply leave doors propped open to allow movers easy access, but if you’ve got sensitive data storage hardware lying around, this could be a very costly mistake.
Know your recovery processes
In the unfortunate event something does go wrong and your hardware ends up damaged or missing, it’s important you’re prepared for this eventuality. For starters, you need to make sure your plans for backups and disaster recovery are up-to-date and have been recently tested. If you wait until you have a problem to discover any weaknesses in this, it’s far too late.
Bear all these things in mind and you can have – if not a completely stress-free move – then at least one where you’ve got peace of mind that your most important business data will still be there waiting for you when you’ve taken off the bubble-wrap and settled into your business’ new home.