The odds that a company will suffer some form of data loss are about as even as a coin toss, as a recent study revealed slightly more than half of businesses lose critical data.
The study, which was conducted by data backup and recovery company Cibecs, surveyed some 250 businesses from a range of industries. In addition to the more than 50 percent of companies that have lost data in the last 12 months, 10 percent reported that the data lost was unable to be recovered.
The top reason for data loss was hardware failure, cited by 36 percent of respondents. This was followed by negligence with 29 percent and theft with 18 percent.
Regardless of the reason, data loss can have a devastating effect on an organization. In addition to the reputational damage that can stem from data loss, the downturn caused by such incidents can have a significant impact on a company's bottom line. According to the report, 37 percent of businesses believe it would take them longer than a day to recover from data loss.
Trends in enterprise IT may be escalating the threat of data loss. Cloud computing, for example, has the potential to be a game-changer in the data storage market. However, a study from the Ponemon Institute and CA Technologies revealed that two-thirds of surveyed American businesses are not confident that the cloud can provide adequate security.
Shifts in mobile technology also present new challenges to data protection. As more employees adopt smartphones and tablets, the threat of data loss increases. According to a recent Forrester Research study, a combined 48 percent of U.S. workers are now using either Android- or iOS-based smartphones. Though these phones can offer greater functionality, they are also more likely to be left in the back of a cab or dropped in the gutter than traditional enterprise computing machines, which were restricted to work functions.
"The increasing mobilization of today’s workforce, with around 50 percent of companies using laptops as their primary system, and the introduction of tablets to the corporate space has meant that business data is often mobile-amplifying the risk of data loss," the Cibecs report stated.
Not all data loss is avoidable. Accidents happen, and businesses are left footing the bill. However, to minimize the threat of data loss, businesses are advised to invest in robust storage solutions, which should be paired with equally effective data security measures, such as encryption and access controls. This may not thwart all threats, but it can reduce them dramatically.