Data loss is every business’s nightmare. In fact, the majority of companies that do experience a mass disappearance of vital, computer-kept information never turn their lights on again.

About 60 percent of small businesses that lose data shut down within six months, according to a study released in 2017 by Clutch, a Washington, D.C.-based research firm. Another report, by Gartner, shows a sizeable impact on medium-sized companies as well; 51 percent of those that encounter a major data breakdown close down within two years.

Cyber security experts say those stark numbers underscore the importance of being prepared with adequate security measures. Many businesses are not, according to the Clutch study, including 58 percent of small businesses.

“It basically comes down to the idea that how you protect and treat your data is commensurate with how important you think it is,” says Penny Garbus, co-founder of Soaring Eagle Consulting Inc. and co-author of Mining New Gold – Managing your Business Data. “You protect your jewelry and money, but you aren’t protecting your data. If you aren’t, you’re putting your entire business at risk.”

Companies both large and small often try to ensure the security of their IT infrastructure by outsourcing to a third-party security vendor. A recent study on cloud security conducted by Forrester Consulting found that nearly 80 percent of participants saw value in outside security expertise. Garbus gives three main ways that managed security services can save a business from the disaster of data loss:

•    Security check-ups. These are essential for cyber security. “The question you must ask yourself is, how much downtime can my business afford,” Garbus says. “One of the best ways to prevent cyber security issues is to have an expert conduct regular health checks on your system. That way if there are any lurking vulnerabilities or potential issues, they can be fixed before causing any damage.”

•    Performance measures. This includes analysis of software, server, cloud and firewall  Business these days operates in the realm of remote servers, cloud computing and unrelenting security threats. “As the technological landscape evolves and data security has become increasingly important, businesses recognize there’s much more to it than handling issues as they arise,” Garbus says.

•    IT development updates. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated every day. For example, ransomware was able to stall private businesses, hospitals, universities, and government agencies. “If you’re handling sensitive data, it’s smart to upgrade the cyber security methods you’ve been using from the beginning of your business,” Garbus says. “Small and medium-size companies aren’t as likely to have a dedicated IT person to oversee the multiple systems, so it behooves them to have a service in place that can keep abreast of changing technology.”

“You might think managed security is mainly for big businesses, but you can certainly make a case that small-to-medium businesses benefit the most,” Garbus says. “In many ways, they have the most to lose.”