Data protection, cyber insurance and Dallas

As I sat down to write this column, I reflected on the International Data Protection Conference, held Oct. 7-9 in Dallas and co-sponsored by PRISM International and the Data Protection Association (DPA). Those who attended were treated to two full days of immersion in the latest trends, technologies and patterns in off-site data protection and storage. Here are just a few highlights:

Tom Coughlin from Coughlin Associates gave a technical presentation about the shape of things to come in storage. He made a convincing case that faster memory/storage is needed for modern applications and argued that nonvolatile memories will replace volatile ones. Coughlin also reviewed a new metric comparing touch rate and response time that can be used to characterize storage devices and in-system design. Using this metric, it became clear that different storage provides different advantages depending upon the application.

Gregory Podolak from Saxe Doernberger and Vita spoke about what off-site records and information storage companies should look for in traditional and relatively new cyber insurance products. His suggestions included:

  • idetifying problematic endorsements, arguing for “publication” and thinking expansively about property damage in commercial general liability policies;
  • ensuring proper scope and avoiding exclusions failing to reflect risk in professional/errors and omission insurance;
  • scrutinizing the legal basis for liability in directors and officers policies; and
  • seeking contractual limitation of cyber risk with downstream parties.

Robert Mendiola from Crossroads shared three new ideas for data protection: how to redefine automation, make seamless off-site copies and deliver multisite disaster recovery and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS).

Jon Hiles from Spectra discussed the present and future state of tape. He reminded us of just how reliable tape is for information storage. One million tape drives running continuously at 300 megabytes per second (MB/s) yield one undetected bit error once every five times the age of the earth. In comparison, 1 million disk drives running continuously at 200 MB/s yield 1,577 undetected bad sectors every year.

To those of you who attended, I encourage you to share your thoughts on the PRISM Member Community or on the DPA Listserve. To those of you who did not, you’re not going to want to miss this event next year. Don’t be left behind!


Dave Bergeson is executive director of PRISM International, Chicago, and can be reached at

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