We’ve all been in that dreaded situation; you let your concentration slide for a couple of seconds as you ponder when to make your next cup of coffee and before you know it, you’ve deleted an important document that you’ve been working on all week. You search high and low through your cluttered desktop in the vein hope that it’s lurking behind a JPEG of Grumpy Cat but alas, it has been eradicated from the face of the (cyber) earth.
Human error: the worst offender for data loss
A new report issued by data recovery solutions firm, Databarracks has shown that human error remains to be the main cause of data loss in the UK. The company surveyed more than 400 IT decision-makers and found that nearly a quarter of organisations admit that employee mistakes were responsible for the loss of important data over the last 12 months. This figure is worryingly high and exceeded that of hardware failure (21%) and data corruption (19%).
Oscar Arean, technical operations manager at Databarracks, said: “People will always be your weakest link, but having said that, there is a lot that businesses could be doing to prevent it, so we’d expect this figure to be lower.”
However what was an interesting statistic to emerge from the study was that, when the results were broken down into specific business sizes, it was actually hardware failure that was the main culprit of data loss in large companies. This year the malfunction of hardware lead to more than 30% of data loss, which is a rise on the 29% of last year.
Arean wasn’t surprised by this revelation and said: “The majority of large organisations will have more stringent user policies in place to limit the amount of damage individuals can cause.
“Secondly due to the complexity of their infrastructure, and the cost of maintaining it, large organisations may find it more difficult to refresh their hardware as often as small organisations, so it’s inevitable at some point it will just give out.”
Minimising the cases of human error
Data loss is not only a royal inconvenience and a huge drain on productivity, it also puts the business at risk of losing custom, missing important deadlines and developing a bad reputation. You can’t ever completely eliminate human error because we are all mere mortals and will always make mistakes but there are a few things SMEs can do to reduce the level of risk to the business.
Arean suggests that one way small and medium-sized enterprises can decrease the incidents of data loss on account of human error is to take a leaf out of the book larger companies. In those types of infrastructures, managers have the ability to cap user access to certain data and block specific actions, which in turn limits the amount of damage they could potentially cause.
Arean said: “I think a lot of SMEs fall into the trap of thinking their teams aren’t big enough to warrant proper data security and management policies, but we would disagree with that”. However he also recognises that smaller organisations don’t always have access to the same resources that large firms do so users often have much more freedom and responsibility. He advises that due to this, small companies need to put a plan in place to “manage the risks that come with this responsibility”.
He added: “Of course small organisations don’t need an extensive policy on the same scale that a large enterprise would, but their employees need to be properly educated on best practice for handling data and the consequences of their actions on the business as a whole. There should be clear guidelines for them to follow.”
So although human error is growing concern across the board, the substantial level of hardware malfunction amongst large firms could potentially become more of a threat. Incompetent staff are easily trained or replaced but machines can be temperamental and costly to repair. The moral of the story here, business owner, is to ensure that your workforce are fully trained in using any systems and ensure that they are handling any hardware with care and caution.