Data Loss and Data Leaks: Backup data now, Your choice.
Nicole Preston, EnduraData Mass Communications and Public Education
Think you don’t need data backup or you have a good file sync?
What is Data Loss?
Individuals and organizations across the globe use computer networks to connect, work together and share data. While the increase in the ability to share data using file sync nationwide has had many positive effects on businesses and their productivity, it has also heightened organizations’ vulnerabilities to data loss. This risk is exacerbated by bring your own device to work as well. The sheer amount of data, easy accessibility and various inexpensive storage methods have all led to the growing susceptibility to data loss and to data leaks .
In this blog, we will be using data loss and data leaks interchangeably. We will dedicate another blog at a later date to differentiate data loss from man-made or natural disasters from data leaks.
Data loss and leaks occur when a company’s private information is lost, removed and distributed either deliberately or accidentally. Data leaks affects both individuals and a wide range of industries, including, but not limited to: healthcare, oil and gas, financial, retail organizations and to the public sector .
Any time data loss occurs, organizations are vulnerable to a wide array of threats . Besides the upsurge of data exposed to loss and/or theft, the after-effects to businesses have never been greater. When a company loses intellectual property such as fiscal data or patented product proposals, they put themselves at risk for financial losses, a tainted brand name  and to litigation. In addition to intellectual property, other data such as photos, projects, medical records, financial materials, messages and important records are all prone to being lost .
What causes data loss?
Data loss happens for a variety of reasons. Despite technological advancements making business transactions and productivity simpler and better than ever, protecting company data has never been harder .
With the continued digitization of the modern world, the amount of data being stored, transferred and replicated continues to rise. The more technology and data are used, the greater risks of data loss and vulnerabilities are. The following is a list of potential causes of data loss:
- Theft/loss of computers/smartphones 
- Accidental losses caused by uneducated employees 
- Malicious poaching by dissatisfied employees 
- Incorrect data labeling 
- Malware/ransom ware attacks 
- Unsafe employee use behaviors such as :
- Use of unapproved programs/applications
- Unsupervised sharing of company computers with others
- Insecure file transfers during remote work
- Password mismanagement
- Rogue or disgruntled employees or partners
- Lack of company procedures concerning the correct and safe removal of data  (I.e. bring your own device)
- Natural disasters such as tornadoes, fires and floods 
- Hardware failures.
What are the effects and costs of data loss to organizations?
Data loss has many detrimental effects on businesses and organizations and can potentially affect companies in the following ways:
- Businesses’ reputations become tarnished 
- Companies are susceptible to potential lawsuits 
- Organizations risk potential regulation violations 
- Businesses face customer losses 
- Companies may experience decreases in stock value and loss of investors 
- Significant amounts of time and funds are spent alerting customers impacted by the data loss .
In addition to the potential risks that organizations face, the economic costs associated with lost data are astounding. Data loss costs increase by 29% since 2013. In 2016, the average cost of data loss reached an astounding $4 million per incident per business. Many small and medium businesses will fail as a result of such a data loss .
Besides the financial costs due to lost data, the number of data loss incidents is escalating. When surveyed, 52% of large businesses experienced some form of data loss in 2015. The majority of losses within those companies were due to human error and malicious employee behavior rather than outside attacks . Despite the available statistics regarding data loss incidents, the actual numbers are difficult to obtain due to organizations’ failure to report cases .
How to prevent data loss: will backup solve your data loss problems?
When it comes to data loss, there are many ways in which organizations can protect themselves. The very first recommendation to minimize risks is the implementation of a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) plan and a Disaster Recovery(DR) plan. DLP is the act of locating and stopping the loss of an organization’s classified data to outside, unauthorized sources. In order for the DLP plan to be successful, businesses must have clear, well-defined objectives and procedures. Objectives can include strategies such as a commitment to safeguard data, to provide acceptable security and the use of tactics such as server backup and file sync  with encryption.
Another measure companies can take to prevent data loss is to continuously educate employees in regards to proper use of company technology. During education sessions with employees, management should focus on several tasks such as how to follow company policies, who are authorized users, what programs and applications are approved for using with company information and the penalties for violating rules and policies .
Avoiding data loss by small and medium businesses without a modern data center
In addition to education, organizations and their employees should work to prevent damage to computers by keeping them away from dangers such as water, dust and static electricity. Locations with a low level of activity are best for keeping computers safe from physical damage. Furthermore, companies should make sure to safeguard data by using redundant power, UPSs and generators in case of a storm or power surge. Power surges, even low-level ones, can damage data so it is imperative to have a continuous supply of power .
Your Sync and backup to the rescue?
The next way a company can protect themselves from data loss is to frequently complete file backup and confirm that the backup was effective. Additionally, organizations should schedule regular “fire drills” so employees know what to do in case a need to restore data arises in the future .
Lastly, companies should utilize up-to-date antivirus protection programs to shield their data and minimize data loss. In addition to the antivirus programs, diagnostic software that identifies any imminent data storage issues should be installed .
Backup and Sync with or without encryption?
Backup and sync without encryption will not solve your data leaks or data loss alone. Be proactive and use a combination of what is described above. This article is not meant to be a panacea but is meant to help the poor system administrator get the attention of their executive teams.
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- “Data Theft and Data Loss”. Kaspersky Lab. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- Pritchard, Stephan (2009). “Top seven data loss issues”. Computer Weekly. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- ”Data Leakage Worldwide: Common Risks and Mistakes Employees Make”. Cisco. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- Larrivee, Bob (12 February 2016). “The Bigger Risk for Data Loss is Inside Your Company”. Document Strategy. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- Harris, Robin (6 August 2007). “How data gets lost”. ZD Net. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- “IBM & Ponemon Institute Study: Data Breach Costs Rising, Now $4 million per Incident”. PR Newswire. 15 June 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- Margeson, Bill (28 January 2003). “How to prevent data loss”. Computer World. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
At EnduraData we believe (and have coined) that just like in the natural world, we beleive the mechanisms to resist data loss from disasters are:
Download EDpCloud from https://www.enduradata.com/downloads and protect your data.
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