Data is an important raw material of this age. It is all the more important to protect them from loss. But what is actually meant by the word “ data loss ”? Which reasons occur particularly often and which IT security precautions can companies use to circumvent them? You can find the solutions in the following sections.
Having data is now as important as water and energy. Every type of business, every consumer good, every service and every business process today can not only be improved, but directly taken to a new level by the insights gained from the vast amounts of data. In many companies, data is therefore the linchpin of entrepreneurial success, as a current analysis by Dun & Bradstreet shows.
According to this, two thirds of the participating European companies are of the opinion that data is the most useful tool for their company, for example to make new markets accessible or to win new customers.
In fact, the problem of data loss looms over companies like the sword of Damocles.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s caused by a hacker attack, a natural disaster or simply by human error: a loss of data can have dire consequences – both economically and legally; not to mention the reputational impact.
Table of Contents
What Is Data Loss Actually?
It is always an unforeseen event that throws away business-critical and confidential data. All data that cannot be found on a targeted memory is considered to have disappeared.
In general, these events are divided into temporary or permanent data loss.
Temporary data loss is characterized by the fact that it can be repaired with suitable countermeasures. In the case of permanent data loss, on the other hand, the data is irrecoverable, i.e. it is irretrievably lost and broken.
Data Loss: What Are The Reasons For Data Loss?
There are many reasons for data loss. They range from defective hard drives to complex malware attacks and manipulation from within.
Even if a lot of data loss originates from technical defects, at least as much, if not more, is the responsibility of humans.
Most factors include:
Hacker attacks, malware and computer viruses:
One of the main causes of data loss are hacker attacks, malware and computer viruses. In recent years, the risk of data loss due to hacker attacks, malware and computer viruses has increased significantly. According to the Bitkom industry association , nine out of ten companies in Germany were affected by internet attacks in the period 2020 and 2021.
Hardware damage: Another trigger for data loss is hardware defects. The most well-known hardware error is a defective hard disk. It is still one of the error-prone elements of hardware, since it has mechanically operated parts that can break, for example, due to vibrations or are already broken when delivered from the factory.
Improper handling of hardware and software: If both hardware and software are improperly maintained, data loss can also occur. This applies to servers, NAS devices, hard drives, USB sticks and other storage media. Mobile end devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops play a special role here. At this point, the causes of painful data loss range from damage from spills to breakage from drops to improper storage.
Age and signs of wear: All hardware is subject to temporary wear and tear. However, achieving the maximum useful life differs depending on the hardware type, the material used and the producer. Due to these aspects, the lifespan of a piece of hardware is usually between three and ten years. For example, storage media only support a limited set of write processes. As soon as this reservoir is used up, the medium can no longer be used.
Loss or theft of end devices and storage media: Another significant source of data loss is the loss or theft of mobile devices and small storage media such as USB sticks and SD cards. Here, in addition to pure data loss, there is also the risk that business-critical and sensitive data will fall into the wrong hands.
Operator error: In everyday business, business-critical and confidential data is often lost through accidental deletion. In the worst case, employees may accidentally erase an entire drive. While accidentally deleted documents, files or folders can usually be recovered since they end up in the recycle bin first, recovering formatted drives is more difficult. In principle, a recovery is also possible here, but this usually requires an IT expert.
Weak Passwords: Weak passwords are an additional, common trigger for data loss. For example, passwords for relevant access or central databases can be lost because employees use weak and easy-to-guess passwords or phrases or write them down on slips of paper instead of using a special password manager.
Treasure-IT: An additional, increasingly serious problem that promotes data loss is shadow IT. Shadow IT is understood to mean IT systems, IT services and applications that are used in a disguised manner, which are not under the control of the IT departments.
Internal sabotage: Another notable source of data loss is ex-employees who have not been denied access to email services, corporate applications, and data. At this point it can happen that they log into the company network and systems out of curiosity or out of revenge and view relevant files, in the worst case eliminate, manipulate or ruin them.
Force majeure: Natural disasters such as floods, fires and storm damage or other unpredictable events such as political or social unrest can also be a cause of data loss.
Measures Against Data Loss!!
Losing elementary data is always a nuisance. With good reason, companies have a huge interest in protecting their most valuable asset. There are now a number of best practices that aim to protect a company from data loss.
The most important measures include:
- Regular data backups using the 3-2-1 rule
- Regular vulnerability management and patch management
- Control and monitor entry, access and access to the company network and company applications and data
- Secure company network and systems with passwords, firewalls and other protective measures
- Traceable data changes
- Responsible handling of small-format storage media such as USB sticks or SD cards
- Continuous security training
- Introduce alarm systems and video surveillance
- Securing the building (do not leave any windows open)
No company is immune to data loss these days. Even if there is no 100 percent protection against painful data loss up to this date, the mixture of various IT security precautions helps to reduce the causes and the risk to a minimum. If files are lost nonetheless, it is always important to remain calm and consult a data recovery specialist.