Data loss is a serious problem for any business – it costs time and money to put right. Losing data that is crucial to the day-to-day running of your business can be catastrophic and even threaten its survival.
The most obvious cost of data loss is the financial one. Data loss can be disastrous to business finances, and often has a long-lasting effect on the financial health of the business. In fact, IBM recorded data breach information from hundreds of businesses over 17 countries and found that, on average, a data breach cost the business over $3.86 million.
Not only must lost business data be recovered or replaced in some way which can be a costly and resource-heavy operation, but there is also the additional cost of day-to-day disruption. Any time you are not able to support your customers is a blow to your reputation and the trust that your customers have in you. Lose enough of this trust and you may find that they take their business elsewhere.
Thankfully, with the technology available to us, the chances of being hit by data loss can be mitigated through several data security best practices. There is a common theme throughout these – data loss prevention is better than the cure. Understanding how business data loss can occur and what causes business data loss can go a long way towards preventing it.
Common causes of business data loss
From honest incident to malicious attacks, there are many ways in which a business can lose data. It also depends on where the data is stored and how it can be accessed. Let’s look at different ways in which business data can be compromised and how to prevent this.
Hard drive damage
Data loss due to hard drive malfunction is fairly common. Hard drives are among the most fragile parts of a computer and can be damaged by mechanical issues or human misuse.
The best way to prevent hard drive damage leading to data loss is to ensure all critical data is backed up elsewhere on a regular basis. Saving data to a cloud server or external drive as well as locally is widely recommended. Prevent hardware malfunction as much as possible too – keep computers and laptops clean, dry and away from both excessive dust and liquids.
Viruses and malware are big causes of data loss. There are many different approaches used by cyber criminals but email phishing remains a popular way to target individuals within an organisation. After all, you can’t simply patch your employees with the latest security update.
One way to prevent employees within your organisation being the weak link is proper cyber security training. This, plus information security champions within your business, helps to create a culture of cyber security. On a system level, installing anti-virus and anti-malware software to run scans can catch malicious programs before they do any serious damage.
Not all data loss has malicious intent behind it. Sometimes it’s simply down to employee mistakes where important data is deleted or overwritten, or if the hardware employees are working on is damaged.
One way to prevent human error in data handling is to roll out proper training throughout your organisation. For example, all employees should know when documents are backed up automatically and when they need to manually save their work. Limiting employee access to data by controlling access rights can also help reduce the risk of accidental data loss.
Power outages and natural disasters
Data loss can also be a result of a much larger disaster. It might sound over the top, but a fire, flood or earthquake could wipe out all of your onsite technology and make the necessary data recovery from that equipment nigh on impossible.
On a less dramatic scale, a power outage could interrupt and shut down regular operations too. One solution for these instances is to make sure you have your critical data backed up, and backed up often. Then, even if the worst does happen, you’ll have an up-to-date version to restore and minimal data loss to contend with.
As the lines between our work and personal lives continue to blur, so does our device usage. You may even have employees accessing business data from laptops or phones on the go. This puts these portable devices at risk of theft and subsequent loss of data.
Theft also increases the risk of a data breach. In order to mitigate the long-term consequences of business laptop or phone theft, having the ability to remotely wipe data from the device is recommended. Simple security measures such as strong passwords and multi-factor authentication are also recommended for all employees to increase security.
Cyber security for data loss
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to prevent all data losses from happening. But you can give yourself the best chance at being able to mitigate the effects of data loss and bounce back quickly with stringent data backup, recovery and cyber security measures.
Having a robust recovery plan in place to tackle data loss from a range of causes is the best way to ensure your business is well-placed to handle whatever comes your way.
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