Data Loss Horror Stories: Common Causes of Data Loss and Prevention Tips

June 04, 2018 by Jatheon

Every time business is disrupted, it creates serious risks and depletes the organization’s financial resources, which is why having a business continuity plan is essential. As businesses grow more and more reliant on technology, it’s critical to futureproof your IT department and its many components such as servers, networks, devices and enterprise software. One of the first priorities when outlining your business continuity strategy is to detect potential causes of data loss and learn how to prevent them.

As businesses grow more reliant on technology, it’s critical to futureproof your IT department, its servers, networks, devices and enterprise software. Click To Tweet

An overflowing inbox is a common cause of complaints and frustration in offices around the world. But there’s one thing that’s worse than that – an unavailable or empty inbox. Imagine losing access to your entire email history and attachments detailing an important project that the whole company is currently focused on. Without an established business continuity plan, you’d waste money, manpower and time attempting to get everything back. Moreover, permanently losing access to corporate electronic records also means potential fines and sanctions for non-compliance.

Permanently losing access to corporate electronic records also means potential fines and sanctions for non-compliance. Click To Tweet

It Won’t Happen to You…Until It Does

If you’re like the majority of companies, your organization could be guilty of “it won’t happen to me” mentality. A few years ago, Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal published a report on corporate IT resiliency and preparedness that yielded interesting results. Only one in five organizations was prepared for a data disaster, although 30% of respondents had major data loss issues in the previous five years. On a more positive note, more than 50% used replication technology for mission critical systems and relied on the cloud for data protection. But the general conclusion remains – many organizations don’t take their data protection and backup as seriously as they should, even though losing business-critical data surely ranks as the worst nightmare for your IT team. Here’s why companies typically face data loss and how to prevent it:

1. Hardware Failure and System Malfunction

There are many ways in which both consumer and enterprise-grade hardware can fail and it is hardware failure that accounts for more than 40% of data loss cases. Some of the most common causes of hardware failure include impact damage, electrical spikes, electrostatic discharge, dust, overheating, hard disk degradation and head crash.

Hardware failure accounts for more than 40% of data loss cases. #ITSecurity #EmailArchiving #HardwareRedundancy Click To Tweet

In enterprise computing and information archiving, the best way to prevent hardware failure is to invest into enterprise-grade hardware, ensure hardware and network redundancy and pay attention to end-of-life for each piece of hardware your system contains.

As opposed to consumer hardware, server grade hardware offers additional reliability and is built to endure uninterrupted use and the heavy workload of enterprises. In email archiving, losing data defies the whole purpose of retaining it, which is why companies need to ensure their archiving solutions are equipped with powerful components such as server-grade chipsets, ECC RAM and SAS hard drives. Chipsets play a crucial role in determining system performance and, in enterprise computing, they need to support multiple processors with more cache memory. ECC RAM is important because it’s immune to silent data corruption that can occur due to radiation, aging or wear of the storage device. For this reason, using ECC RAM is essential for data-sensitive tasks like archiving or data retrieval. Finally, SAS hard drives are used where high speed and availability are crucial, as they are faster and more reliable than SATA drives (rotating speed 10-15K vs. 7.2K; MTBF 1.2M hours vs. 700K, respectively).

In computing and email archiving, redundancy refers to the practice of duplicating critical components (hardware or network) in order to provide backup in case of component failure and increase reliability and dependability. A good example of hardware redundancy is RAID, the combination of multiple physical disk drive components in which data is distributed across the drives so that, in case of failure of one or more storage units, you can still retrieve your data from the remaining drives. A redundant power supply contains two or more power units, so if one of them fails, the other can seamlessly take over and keep your servers or an archiving appliance going. A redundant PSU is a vital feature in enterprise computing because it minimizes the chance of appliance shutdown, failure or data loss.

All Jatheon’s archiving appliances contain enterprise-grade hardware, redundancy features and ZFS, which provides additional protection from data corruption. Moreover, to keep our clients firmly ahead of the technology curve, we provide a free-of-charge appliance replacement every four years.

2. The Human Factor

The human factor continues to play a prominent role in corporate data loss. Be it recklessness, inadvertent sharing of sensitive data, theft or corporate espionage, you can never be too careful with the data that’s at the core of your business. For IT personnel, especially CIOs and CTOs, there’s no worse horror story than finding out that a company laptop got stolen or lost, or having staff members accessing and sharing business-critical data on BYOD phones.

The extent of data loss due to computer theft is often difficult to measure, as only about 10% of such crimes ever gets reported. A few years ago, several computers were stolen when the Radiation Control Bureau’s New Mexico facility was broken into. Without adequate data backup and data archives, the state agency would’ve had serious trouble getting back up and running.

The first step towards minimizing and prevention of data loss caused by employee negligence or misconduct is to create appropriate policies and guidelines and preach them among your staff. With Jatheon, all email, social media and mobile exchanges are archived using a secure, on-premise solution. It contains customizable user access, policies and message integrity verification features that prevent deletion, data tampering and evidence spoliation and allow admins to control who has access to the most critical and sensitive data that can make or break your business.

3. Ransomware

Just last week, Healthcare Info Security published a story on how a Minnesota-based mental health practice decided to pay ransom to regain access to PHI that was illegally accessed and encrypted by hackers. In 2016, local US police departments and municipalities were targeted in a similar manner. Such attacks are serious because hackers can delete the files unless the victim pays, which means that critical corporate information might be gone for good. Given that multiple laws and regulations mandate its retention and that ESI can be used as evidence, it’s evident how inaccessible data can suddenly cost your company thousands, even millions of dollars.

As cybersecurity remains a growing priority for organizations in all industries, prevention measures and IT security best practices stay the same – make sure you have up-to-date software patches, change your passwords regularly, monitor your systems and prevent physical access to devices. And finally, don’t forget that data backup and archiving are vital parts of the IT protocol for both large enterprises and SMEs.

4. Natural Disasters

Although natural disasters account for less than 5% of all data loss horror stories, when they hit – they hit hard. With 10 major hurricanes in 2017 only, it’s no wonder that water damage is the dreaded word in offices across the south and east coast of the US. Together with fires and earthquakes, floods are the factor that can neither be predicted nor prevented. What you can do is follow the standard best practice of backing up your critical data frequently and make sure you have all important data backed up on more than a single location.

5. Power Outage

They don’t happen often, but they can leave you without data. Both power cuts and sudden changes in voltage may easily damage hardware (hard drives are especially vulnerable). In case it happens to your organization, your next steps will depend on what you’ve done to prepare. In case you had no backup and redundancy systems in place, you’ll probably have to contact data recovery professionals to get your data back. Luckily, organizations typically use an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) as a safeguard from unexpected power disruptions. Having a redundant power supply, RAID and backing up your data regularly at various locations can greatly contribute to the safety of your data and safeguard your organization.

Information Archiving as the Answer

Information archiving solutions provide automated collection and interactive and secure long-term storage of electronic business content such as email, social media or mobile. The archival of corporate email and unstructured data empowers organizations to stay compliant with various regulations and guidelines, improves their litigation response, and provides a safe storage option for business-critical and sensitive data. Finally, archiving solutions secure information in a long-term repository, where content can be easily restored in the event of a disaster or during any planned or unplanned downtime.

For more info on enterprise-grade hardware and email archiving, read this eBook. To learn how Jatheon can assist you with implementing an archiving solution, contact us or schedule your personal tour.

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