5 most common ways businesses lose data


Data loss is a crippling event for companies of any size – from the five-person graphic design shop that loses its portfolio to the 300-employee ecommerce firm that experiences a damaging loss of customer payment data.

Preventing such incidences is of paramount importance, so companies must recognise the more common causes of data loss.

1. Using advanced settings and adjustments

Some non-IT employees might decide to attempt to modify or fix their desktop or laptop computers by diving into advanced settings. For example, they might try to update the BIOS (Basic Input Output System), the motherboard chip that tells the computer what to do during power on.

>See also: 9 tactics for getting a firm grip on data

To make changes to the BIOS, users should really know what they are doing. A seemingly innocuous change can prevent the machine from booting at all, and exposing the user to local data loss.

Staff members should leave advanced settings adjustments to IT, and utilise company-approved data backup procedures, whether it’s to local external hard drives or the cloud.

2. Failing to backup

Likely the most common reason companies lose data is they don’t have in place sound backup procedures. Both physical and cloud-based storage are exceedingly inexpensive, especially when compared to the possible harm from losing data.

It’s best to use multiple types of data backups that are automated. Don’t expect employees to perform backup operations on their own – you have to institute automation that takes any choice out of the equation.

Cloud backups that protect data across all devices help prevent employees from storing data on their own laptop, thumb drive or phone. By removing these as storage points, companies can lower their risks as theft, loss of the devices or a security breach won’t be as impactful when the sensitive data is stored elsewhere, off of the actual physical device.

3. Hardware failures

Despite the prevalence and cost-effectiveness of cloud storage, many employees and businesses still produce and store information only on local machines. And computers and on-premises servers can break in myriad ways, exposing the company to data loss.

Both hard drives and newer SSDs can fail, perhaps either due to a hard drive mechanical error or the flash memory failing because of a data writing error.

Another common problem is a power supply malfunction, where the device simply cannot access the necessary power and cannot boot.

Simple falls are another cause of failures, where an employee on the road drops their laptop and loses a week’s worth of sales prospect data.

While in many cases the data can be recovered, there’s still the chance for business interruption and negative impacts that come with loss of data access.

Power surges and power outages can also wreck hard drives and solid state. Companies should mandate battery backups or quality uninterruptible power supply (UPS) strips that can regulate surges and prevent internal damage.

4. Ignoring standard security protocols

Despite the warnings about security breaches, many companies and staff members still take a lax approach to security protocols. For example, users might still click on banner ads or view email attachments from unknown senders, with both actions providing a possible conduit for hackers.

>See also: It’s on: the battle to keep your data safe and how to win it

Poor password procedures are another avenue for data loss. Many employees utilise simple passwords such as “admin” or “12345” instead of more complex passwords that feature upper and lower case, numbers and characters.

These passwords are much more resistant to “brute-force” style attacks, especially if they are truly random, and generated by password generating tools.

5. Ransomware

Once hackers gain entry through email or by guessing uncomplicated passwords, they often utilise ransomware, which involves holding data hostage by encrypting it and only allowing the company to retrieve the data if a ransom is paid.

Data can be lost through such actions in cases where the hackers find buyers for the actual data (credit cards, addresses, SSNs, etc.) or they destroy the data even after the ransom money goes through.


Sourced from David Zimmerman, CEO, LC Technology 

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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