The 7 Most Common Causes of Business Data Loss
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
As the leading IT security experts and Backup and Disaster Recovery provider (BDR) in Boca Raton, there are a few statistics that make us shudder. One of the most concerning? 80 percent of businesses surveyed say that they are confident that they would survive a significant data loss event. And yet 93 percent of businesses file for bankruptcy within one year of such a loss. Alarmingly, when it comes to the risks and implications of data loss, many businesses don’t know what they don’t know. The solutions are there (here, in fact). But too many SMBs are operating day to day on a hair-thin precipice they are seemingly not even aware of.
There are many potential causes of data loss. Being aware of them — and of the risks they pose to your business — is critical. Knowing the types of data loss and the risks associated with losing data is essential for preventing data loss that can devastate your business.
Here’s a list of the 7 most common causes of data loss, compiled by Level5 Management’s BDR experts:
1. Human Error / Employee Oversight
Even the best professionals make mistakes. No matter how diligent you and your team may be, making an occasional error is inevitable. But for businesses, mistakes can be costly and even catastrophic.
Think about how much information that is crucial to your business lives on your computer and devices. Unintentionally deleting or overwriting data files — even just sections of text — can happen easily and have all sorts of implications.
And because humans are, well, human, each user in a company is also an inherent risk for other catalysts for data loss. How many times have you heard of someone spilling a coffee, damaging hardware, unknowingly downloading malware, or improperly shutting down their workstation?
2. Hard Drive Damage and Formatting Errors
Hardware malfunction — particularly the hard drive — is the leading cause of data loss. Hard drive failure is to blame for nearly 45 percent of all unplanned business downtime. In the United States, approximately 140,000 hard drives crash each week, with a 60/40 split on mechanical issues vs. user misuse or mishandling.
Why is the hard drive such a likely culprit? Well first, it’s the most fragile component of a computer. They succumb easily to physical contact, bumps and falls, heat, humidity, dust, power surges, and repeated user errors. They also wear out reliably over time.
Another threat to the hard drive’s data? Your employees. Misunderstanding error messages and prompts can cause a user to mistakenly re-format the drive. This can also occur inadvertently during system updates.
3. Power Outages
As any Boca Raton business (or anyone from South Florida) can tell you, power outages are a normal part of Florida life and one of the trade-offs of living and working in paradise.
But power outages can shut down business operations — or at least interrupt them significantly. An abrupt shutdown of hardware and software can result in unsaved work and corruption of existing data files. Entire programs can lose functionality shutting software systems down without warning. Not only can this result in the loss of unsaved data, but any open files could be corrupted on power loss. And if your system is updating when a power loss occurs, it likely won’t start back up again. A poorly-timed loss of power could spell catastrophe for a business.
4. Viruses and Malware
Perhaps the most widely-recognized threats to any business’s data are viruses and malware. These bits of malicious code commonly come from ordinary-looking emails and files, or phishing operations that trick employees into clicking on corrupted links.
With increasing frequency, we have watched major companies, small businesses, and governments alike fall victim to viruses and malware that sneak through holes in their IT security. Through them, bad actors can steal, exploit and delete enormous caches of data. These breaches have destroyed reputations, caused financial ruin, and brought business operations screeching to a halt.
5. Weather and Disasters
Another trade-off we make for the privilege of being a managed IT service provider in Boca Raton, Florida? Hurricanes.
If you make a home or run a business in Palm Beach County or any other coastal area, hurricane season is a part of life that must consistently be planned for. But it isn’t just our South Florida businesses — companies from every part of the U.S. and the world deal with threats from the weather and natural disasters characteristic to their area. Whether it’s tornadoes, floods, fires or earthquakes, natural disasters and weather phenomena devastate IT infrastructure every day. And because local disasters can wipe out a business’s technology systems, recovery may be hopeless unless you have a data backup in a remote location.
6. Lost or Stolen Computers and Devices
As more and more businesses embrace some degree of remote work, we rely more heavily on the mobility of our devices to bring our workplaces to us. Whereas the majority of our workday was once spent tethered to our PC workstations, the majority of work is now done on laptops, tablets and smartphones. And unfortunately, studies show you have about a 1 in 7 chance of having your laptop or mobile device stolen.
Thefts can take place anywhere. Roughly a quarter of them take place in the office itself. Another 25 percent happen in cars or on public transportation. The remainder of business IT theft happen in airports, restaurants, hotels, and elsewhere.
Alarmingly, lost and stolen devices are not only a data loss risk, but are also a causal factor in a little over 40 percent of data breaches. This number continues to rise as businesses increasingly allow their employees to BYOD — Bring Your Own Device.
We’ve all seen the fallout from the dramatic rise in cybercrime in recent years — particularly since the Covid pandemic. Opportunistic bad actors have used the mass shift to remote work to their advantage, and major corporations as well as small businesses have found themselves in the news for the wrong reasons.
Now more than ever, rock-solid IT security is critical. This is doubly true for businesses that are bound by industry-specific compliance regulations to maintain strict guardianship over client data. Unauthorized network access and intrusion by outsiders leads to deletion and theft of data every day. Now that cyberattacks have become automated, hackers are able to rapidly capture large amounts of data indiscriminately to later be mined maliciously. Often, entire network processes are left destroyed in their wake. Holding data for ransom has become a major illicit business around the world. In fact, according to data security company Sophos’ “The State Of Ransomware 2020” report, the average cost of a ransomware attack is $732,520 when the ransom was not paid— and $1,448,458 when it was paid.
Unfortunately, data lost to “hackers” or cybercriminals is often irretrievable.
Protect Your Business Data
In 2021, daily news stories are continually reminding us of the latest data breaches and data loss events. And they’re confirming for us what research has told us for years: the average business is woefully unprotected and unprepared for a data loss incident.
Protecting your data, your business, and your clients are synonymous concepts. Preventing data loss and upholding data integrity takes multilayered planning that should be at the forefront of your IT service provider’s overall strategy for your company. Too often in our capacity as BDR providers, we hear from businesses who were unaware that their IT provider had not sufficiently planned for one of the events on this list.
Ready to speak with a Managed Services Provider that will safeguard your business as if it’s our own? Find out why some of the top firms in Boca Raton and across the U.S. entrust their data and IT security to Level5 Management. LiveChat with an IT expert (not a salesman!) from our website, or call us at