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Human error leading cause of data loss

Catalin Cosoi | Nov. 13, 2009
How can technology prevent data loss?

Data loss is a permanent risk undertaken by computer users of all levels. From hardware crashes to widespread malware infections or successful hacking attempts, sensitive information may get lost. The cost of such security incidents is extremely difficult to tell, since most companies do not report them to preserve their customers trust.

Data loss has multiple causes. These incidents may occur because of natural disasters (extremely rare), human errors in manipulation of data, hardware failures, hardware theft or malware infections. Insider malicious attacks (sabotage) have also become a critical issue, especially in corporate environments. It is estimated that 18.76 per cent of the currently active computers face at least one incident related to data loss. As a rule, the cost of an incident is proportional to the value of data plus additional damages such as credibility loss, operational loss and even a class action lawsuit against the victim company.

Insider negligence covers human error, hardware theft (or loss) and involuntary malware infestation via removable drives or direct downloads from the Internet. As seen in the diagram below, insider negligence covers roughly 78 per cent of the total amount of data loss incidents.

Malware attacks and insider theft only score six per cent. However, these six per cent of data loss incidents can cause the company much more damage than that in the event of hardware failure or human error. While hardware failure, human error (accidental data deletion) and random notebook / HDD / computer theft would only prevent the company / user from exploiting data and systems, targeted malicious attacks and inside sabotage would also impact on the companys image and could trigger legal actions from customers. Exposing customers records could trigger a daisy-chain reaction where not only the company gets hurt, but also its customers. Statistically, companies that permanently lose their intellectual property get out of business in less than five years.

 Data loss figure

To what extent can technology prevent data loss and how effective can it be against old-fashioned human carelessness? Well, new technologies have dramatically contributed to minimising data loss because of negligence. The increasing availability of cheap physical storage space made it possible for system administrators to increase data redundancy and ensure that, no matter what, a second copy of the companys critical data is always available. Online backup is another essential technological advance in terms of data security. Even in the event of a local natural disaster, data will be kept safe in a secure data centre located on another continent or in a different country.

The BitDefender Online Backup feature offers this feature even to home users and restores malware-corrupted data with a single click.


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