Classic Data Disasters

Human error can have dramatic consequences as the Bank of America admitted it had lost a small number of back-up tapes containing over a million financial records of credit cards held by federal government employees.

That ‘small’ number of back-up tapes means nearly half of the bank’s two million SmartPay charge card users have had personal data compromised. Under the scheme, government employees conduct around $20 billion worth of transactions.

"We deeply regret this unfortunate incident, " says Barbara Desoerm global technology, service and fulfilment executive for Bank of America. "The privacy of customer information receives teh highest priority at Bank of America, and we take our responsibility for safeguarding it very seriously."

Of course, losing physical devices is an extreme case of data loss, but the human capacity for making data recovery difficult seemingly knows few bounds. Information restoration specialists Ontrack Data Recovery recently published a list of the more unusual data disaster stories given to its engineers. These include :

* Data defrost – One man brought in a hard drive in a wet plastic bag. He claimed to have read on teh Internet that putting a broken hard drive in the freezer would fix it. He asked the recovery engineers not to laugh. :/

* Rowdy relatives – A man suddenly found his laptop would only boot up to the ‘blue screen of death’. A week later his nephew admitted that he used its screen as a punch bag to relieve his frustrations with the slow computer.

* Road kill – a lady placed her laptop on top of her car while she got in. She forgot about the laptop, which slid of the back of her car, and she then reversed straight over it and reported hearing a ‘crunch’.

* Toilet trauma – One man became so incensed with his malfunctioning laptop, he threw it down the toilet and flushed a couple of times.

* Runaway wreckage – A laptop computer was run over by an aeroplane. Even Ontrack’s recovery engineers don;t understand how it happened, but that was the customer’s explanation.

"Human error, including ‘computer rage’, seems to be a growing problem," says Adrian Palm, managing director of Ontrack.

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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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