In business, data is king. There is perhaps a no bigger revolution in the business world than the newfound ease at which data can be collected, compiled and acted upon. Access to data has changed how businesses operate while also changing how business leaders make critical decisions. Understandably, businesses have come to rely upon data as a means of growing their businesses. However, this also illustrates how a company losing access to its data can be a devastating experience. Preventing data loss in the first place means understanding first how data loss commonly occurs. Taking concrete steps to help prevent data loss becomes even more important when your company is small and doesn’t house a large IT department. Here are 6 ways that data loss is common in the workplace.
- Human Error
Human error is perhaps one of the chief contributors to data loss in the workplace. Humans make mistakes and have shortcomings. As a result, these issues affect a business’s ability to secure its data. Apart from employees accidentally deleting or overwriting important data, the human error also accounts for other types of data loss such as damage to hard drives, software corruption and drive erasure. Much of the human-involved instances of data loss can be attributed to improper training of employees. Employees need to understand how the company goes about storing its data and how they can help aid this process. This training will help illuminate which files are automatically backed up and which require employee intervention. Employees need to know how to back up necessary data if they require them.
- Viruses and Malware
Viruses and malware can be even more damaging to a company’s data than it is for your own personal data at home. These malicious pieces of software allow nefarious individuals to obliterate your company’s data, which can negatively affect a company’s operations. These viruses often surface through employee activities such as clicking on shady emails or unknowingly replying to phishing emails. Far worse than simple data corruption or deletion is the threat of data theft posed by these viruses. This is why your company’s anti-virus protections need to remain up-to-date. Also important is the completion of regular virus scans, which help your company discover viruses before they have the opportunity to wreak havoc on your system.
- Hard Drive Damage
Unfortunately, the component we trust with storing our data is also one of the computer’s most fragile parts. Hard drive crashes in the United States number upwards of 100k per week, on the conservative side. Almost two-thirds of these crashes can be linked to mechanical issues, while the remainder can be chalked up to simple human misuse or mishandling, such as when the hard drive or the computer itself is dealt a blow or dropped. Overheating computers, most often the result of overuse or dust buildup in the computer can also lead to hard drive damage. However, apart from these causes, hard drive failure is also a naturally occurring phenomenon. Drives naturally wear out over time. Frequent crashes, difficulty booting or overheating problems can all point to impending hard drive failure. Since solid-state drives (SSD) have a reputation for failing less, companies should move windows to SSD along with other important files.
- Power Outages
It’s a common refrain that it’s important to properly shut down a computer after use, and for a good reason. A power outage can have a serious effect on a company’s computer systems. When your computer is not shut down properly, not only can this lead to the loss of unsaved data, but it can also cause your existing files to become corrupted. Even more harmful is the possibility that your computer may never boot up again if the power outage occurs while data is being written to the hard drive. Of course, data loss is one thing. Still, instead of this, sudden power outages can have a snowball effect on your computer hard drives, frequent occurrences of which can shorten the lives of your hard drives, making them more susceptible to crashes and eventual data loss.
One of the most common instances of data loss is simple. And with employees working on laptops, smartphones and tablets, in addition to the rising numbers of employees who work from home, theft of devices is a growing risk to your data. However, device theft isn’t limited to the home. Large percentages of devices are also stolen from employees’ cars or other forms of transportation, from airports and hotels and even from restaurants, hopefully not showing up on Amazon Renewed later. Yet, it’s not just about data loss. Sensitive data belonging to your company can also be stolen and used for unscrupulous purposes. To help recover stolen devices, businesses should consider installing anti-theft software on their devices to allow law enforcement to track missing or stolen devices.
- Liquid damage
The truth is that people tend to consume food and drink while working on their computers. Unless the company seeks an outright ban on this practice and in the process risks alienating employees, this will always be a constant risk. However, the chances of spilling liquid on a laptop are great. Spilling coffee or water on a laptop can cause it to short circuit, risking permanent damage and data loss. The danger becomes even more amplified if the entire computer becomes submerged in water. Even if the computer seems to work fine after a small spill, long-lasting damage could still lurk unknown to the user. However, keeping laptops in waterproof cases can go a long way. Also, short of banning drinking while working, companies can implement policies that require drinks to be consumed from spill-proof containers. When spills do occur, fast action is required to turn the computer off and seek help from a technician.
The common factor of each of these stories is that accidents do happen. You can’t always predict when they will, but you can take steps to help mitigate data loss by continually backing your data up. This is the only practice that will guarantee that your company survives a catastrophic occurrence.