Data loss is a huge problem for businesses both large and small. Losing data can cause a cascading list of consequences including loss of time, productivity, reputation, and finances. Some data losses are recoverable, while others can spell disaster for a business. Data loss is extremely consequential to the success of a business no matter what the cause. Today, we are going to examine four main areas of data loss including:
statistics concerning the prevalence of data loss,
common causes of data loss,
negative impacts for businesses, and
how to prevent these events from occurring in the first place
Data Loss By-the-Numbers
The statistics regarding data loss are very clear; businesses that suffer data loss, whether it is for a few hours or a few days, will suffer negative consequences both in the short and long term. Preventing these losses are paramount to maintaining a thriving business.
94% of companies that suffer a catastrophic data loss do not survive – 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years. (Source: University of Texas)
7 out of 10 small firms that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year. (DTI/Price Waterhouse Coopers)
Data loss and downtime can cost businesses a total of $1.7 trillion annually. (BackUp Works Global Survey)
43% of data breaches and losses are internal, meaning people within your company either caused the loss accidentally or with malicious intentions. (Proofpoint)
26% of companies experienced a data breach in 2020. (Proofpoint)
These numbers paint a rather bleak picture of what could happen should your business suffer a loss of data. With 1-in-4 companies experiencing data breaches and losses last year alone, your likelihood of facing this misfortune is highly possible should you not take action. The key to using these statistics is to understand what the potential causes of a data loss could be, as well as taking action on ways to proactively prevent the event from happening.
Common Causes of Data Loss
As we have seen from events of the past, data loss is extremely common for businesses of every shape and size as well as from every field and industry. Small and medium sized businesses are not immune to this event as some mistakenly believe. Awareness and knowledge of the different types (and causes) of data loss can help prevent the event from occuring. Here are a few of the most common reasons why businesses face issues both internally and externally.
As the old adage goes, “to err is human.” Employees are not infallible. They can, on occasion, press the wrong button, spill a drink on hardware, download a virus, open a questionable email, and unintentionally delete data. We’ve all done it at some point to some degree.According to Storage Craft, a data management, storage and protection solutions company, reports that 29% of data loss is caused by human error. In order to minimize human error in the workplace, businesses should invest in training programs that target ways that employees can spot red flags for viruses that can cause data loss, provide guidance on how to use the latest technology, as well as common ways to keep data safe and secure both at the office or while working remotely.
Viruses & Malware
According to the same report on Storage Craft, businesses reported another 29% of data loss events occur due to viruses or malware. Computer viruses are able to infiltrate and potentially damage data that is stored on hard drives or systems. These viruses could be in the form of an email-based attack, a phishing scam, or malware such as dreaded ransomware that can hold your data hostage until a price is paid. One of the best techniques to guard against this type of data loss event is to stay up-to-date with antivirus software and patches that have the latest security updates included. Additionally, make sure your business backup plan is practiced in a sort of “fire drill” session. Knowing what to do in the event of a data breach or loss could be the difference between losing data for a few hours or a few days.
Natural Disasters & Power Outages
Mother Nature can be very fickle. One day she is beaming brightly with sun and fair winds and the next she is throwing a hurricane, storm, or nor’easter at our Massachusetts coastline. These types of climate events come without much warning and cause major problems if the systems go down or the power goes out for an extended period of time. It may be hard to recover if laptops, hardware, and other office equipment is destroyed in a flood or fire, but having a backup and a disaster recovery plan is what is most important at this point to getting your business back up and running. At Spectra, we offer both backup as a service and disaster recovery as a service for our clients who need to be protected in the case of any of these data loss events.
Think about the amount of hardware your business utilizes on a daily basis. From laptops to tablets, and desktops to mobile devices, the amount of technology that could “walk away” is astounding. According to a study published in Security Boulevard, “a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds.” Their report shows that these thefts often occur in offices, public transport, airports, restaurants, and hotels. With more and more of the workforce carrying their work with them to and from the office, safeguarding the technology has become even more important. Additionally, a remote workforce means that many of these pieces of hardware are out in the community, thus creating a nightmare for IT departments to keep track of. Theft prevention techniques for laptops and other hardware include keeping devices locked up after hours in the office or installing anti-theft software on the devices that allow you to track the item. This will allow the proper authorities to recover the device and the data on it. Remember to always practice good security protocols on laptops and other mobile devices so that a criminal can not access sensitive business data.
Hard Drive Damage & Software Corruption
Improper software shutdowns (caused innocently enough) may seem benign but even a rare power outage could cause a corruption of your data. Similarly, accidental hard drive formatting or reformatting could cause an immediate loss of data that may take some time to recover depending upon your backup solutions. Avoid the panic of losing data in this way by training employees the proper way to shut down and ways to prevent accidental formatting issues.
The impact of a data loss event can be felt for weeks, months, and years after the issue has been resolved. Some companies never fully recover and consequently don’t survive. Others suffer the ramifications for years trying to build themselves back financially and reputation-wise.
Disruption of Productivity
Obviously when data has been lost, whether it is due to a human error or a malicious virus, it could take many hours to find the root of the problem and install a backup plan that can help your data be recovered either partially or in its entirety.
Whether the event makes the news or is carried by word-of-mouth to clients and customers, your business’s reputation is on the line. Once word spreads that sensitive data has potentially been lost, you become the latest statistic of companies that don’t safeguard their clients information. This could cause a loss of loyal customers who no longer trust you with their information.
Data loss causes downtime. That downtime translates into lost revenue, possibly compliance fines, and the cost of getting your business up and running once again. Leaving data unprotected can be an expensive proposition. According to a study reported by IBM, “the global average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. The average cost per lost or stolen record in a data breach is $150.” Given these numbers, do you think your company will recover financially?
Steps to Avoid Data Loss
As we discussed, data loss can happen for many varied reasons. Here is a quick list to help you and your team members feel reassured that if there is a data loss that you have taken the right steps to prevent the worst of the damage from occurring.
Practice regular backup drills. If you don’t have a backup plan, create one NOW.
Use antivirus software and install all recommended patches.
Protect hardware from static electricity and other damaging conditions. (Think spilled coffee!)
Create a Disaster Recovery Plan
Install anti-theft software
Install encryption software in case the devices get into the wrong hands, not to mention using strong passwords for all of your log-ins.
Have power backup plans in case of a natural disaster.
Train employees to identify malicious emails and red flags that indicate something is amiss.
Monitor your data when it is in motion.
All of these prevention techniques take time and effort. If your IT department is in need of assistance, talk to our team. We can be your main source of guidance, or work in coordination with your IT department to ensure that your data is protected from every potential data loss scenario.