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By NBF News
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Theft of digital information is costing businesses worldwide $1.1 trillion annually as confidential customer information, intellectual property and financial transactions are lost to thieves and hackers.

According to the first ever State of Information Survey by Symantec, the number one global software provider, organisations possess massive amounts of information that not only enable them to be competitive and efficient, but also stay in business. In 2011, 69 percent of businesses experienced some form of information loss for a variety of reasons, such as human error, hardware failure, security breach, or lost and stolen devices. In addition, 69 per cent have had confidential information exposed outside of the company, and 31 per cent have experienced compliance failures related to information.

The Group President, Enterprise Products and Services at Symantec, Francis deSouza stated that, digital information makes up 49 per cent of an organisation's total value. 'The vast amount of information that organisations produce today can help them better serve their customers and increase productivity. However, the same information can also become a major liability if it is not properly protected. Companies that effectively use their information will have a major competitive advantage over those who cannot, and in some cases it can be the difference between success and failure,' he said.

The President disclosed that, 'with its increasing value and rising cost, successful companies will find ways to more effectively protect their information and unleash the productivity it can bring.'

The survey revealed that, businesses of all sizes are dealing with enormous amounts of data. The total size of information stored today by all businesses is 2.2 zettabytes. Small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) on average have 563 terabytes of data, compared with the average enterprise that has 100,000 terabytes. According to the report, information is expected to grow 67 per cent over the next year for enterprises and 178 per cent for SMBs.

'On average, enterprises spend $38 million annually on information, while SMBs spend $332,000. However, the yearly cost per employee for SMBs is a lot higher at $3,670, versus $3,297 for enterprise. For example, a typical 50-employee small business spends $183,500 on information management, whereas a typical large enterprise with 2,500 employees would spend $8.2 million' the report reads in parts.

Experts noted that, the consequences of losing business information are disastrous. 'We would have to fold our operations for at least a couple of years before we'd come back again,' noted an IT manager at a large engineering firm when asked about the consequences of losing the enterprise's information.

Another challenge is the amount of duplicate information businesses are storing - an average of 42 percent of data is duplicated.

Symantec explained that, to help businesses more effectively protect their information, organizations should focus on the information, not the device or data center: With BYOD and cloud, information is no longer within the four walls of a company. Businesses must be able to separate useless data from valuable business information and protect it accordingly. Deduplication and archiving help companies protect more, but store less to keep pace with exponential data growth.