Data is essential to the smooth operation of any organization. Whether it\u2019s data on your products, customers, or competition, you need it to do business. Your software and systems are dependent on the data that\u2019s fed into them.\nBig data may be gathered by IoT sensors in vehicles and buildings, smartphones, and from countless other data points to inform big decisions. But at a granular level you also need small pieces of data to function. Without credentials you can\u2019t gain access to the big data, contact suppliers, or even tweak the air conditioning system.\nOur dependence on data is profound, you might say it\u2019s your business DNA because it\u2019s crucial for survival and growth.\nOf course, none of this is apparent until something goes wrong. It\u2019s when you lose access to data that you realize just how much you need it and how easy it is to take automated access for granted.\nThe cost of data loss\nThe potential cost of a data breach is enormous. The global average is $3.6 million, or $141 per data record, according to the IBM-sponsored, 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study from the Ponemon Institute. Those figures were calculated before the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect with non-compliance potentially leading to fines of up to 20 million euros ($23.3 million) or 4 percent of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher.\nWhen data is stolen or lost, companies often struggle to get back on track. Downtime is disastrous for any business \u2013 it can\u2019t take orders, customers are up in arms, and nothing can be shipped. Not only is there the cost of any punitive fines for regulatory breaches to consider, the data still has to be recovered and the threat that led to the incident must be mitigated. Only then can the hard work of repairing damaged reputations begin.\nConsider that 56 data records are lost or stolen every second, according to the Breach Level Index, and you have some idea of the scale of the problem.\nConcealed in the cloud\nThere are lots of sound business reasons to embrace the cloud. It offers rapid scalability and flexibility enabling organizations to focus on what truly differentiates them in the marketplace, but the rush to migrate has led to some dangerous shortcuts.\nShadow IT \u2013 things that go beyond the watchful eye or direct control of IT departments \u2013 represents a serious security risk. We\u2019re talking about more than 50 percent of IT spending for many large enterprises,\u00a0says the Everest Group.\nIf you are keen to leverage the potential of the cloud, it\u2019s crucial that you\u2019re aware of the potential pitfalls of cloud data management. Take the time to plan your migration properly, assess what is critical data to your operations, and take steps to protect it and make it highly available and rapidly recoverable.\nUnderstand that you can\u2019t rely solely on cloud vendors to safeguard your data and application availability.\nThe race to recover\nThe per day, hour or even minute cost of downtime varies from company to company, but what we can say with confidence is that every organization that suffers an incident wants to get back up and running as fast as it possibly can. If there\u2019s no storage snapshots to clone and quickly bring back online nor a recent backup that can be swiftly accessed, then there\u2019s a very real risk that you\u2019re going to lose valuable data permanently.\nEven if you have an older backup and decide to recover that, you may find that configurations are out of date, passwords no longer work because they\u2019ve been changed, and business records and accounts are gone. Think about how you would deal with an incident like that if the data proved irrecoverable. The cloud vendor may be to blame, but your management team, customers and the regulatory bodies will still hold you accountable.\nThe faster you can recover, the better the chances are your business will survive, but the truth is that major data breaches are often bad enough to take down entire companies.\nWeighing it up\nOrganizations often skimp on backups and redundancy to save money, but it\u2019s a false economy based on short-sighted thinking. It\u2019s not possible to build impenetrable defenses and even if it was it would be prohibitively expensive. But let\u2019s say your cybersecurity is that strong. It\u2019s still possible for an employee to accidentally delete something of vital business importance. It\u2019s possible for hardware underpinning cloud systems to fail.\nThe chances are high that your business will suffer from data loss or theft at some point. When Bitdefender surveyed 250 IT decision makers, 34 percent of them reported breaches within the last 12 months and 74 percent of them couldn\u2019t identify the cause of the breach. Accept that you can\u2019t fully prevent data breaches from happening and plan accordingly.\nIf a few thousand dollars seems too expensive right now, try to calculate the potential cost of an irrecoverable loss of business-critical data or many days of extended downtime. We pay insurance premiums because the cost of an incident can be catastrophically high. The same logic applies to data protection and high availability in the cloud. Properly insulated, high availability, regular backups and replication, and the right data protection mechanisms baked in from the start can be the difference between recovering from a malware infection, ransomware attack or unexpected cloud service failure and not recovering at all.