Here’s what you can learn from 2 real-world examples of data loss

When it comes to your data, there are a million and one ways to lose it. And this is because data loss is a bit more “everyday” than most people tend to think it is.

Data loss isn’t just a byproduct of extravagant data breaches and experienced hackers. In fact, most data loss stems from accidents, malfunctions, glitches, and pure ignorance.  

Here are two real-world examples of data loss and a few suggestions to help you avoid that type of data loss in your business.

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Microsoft drops the data-filled ball

You know that data on your phone? Yeah … all those contacts, messages, photos, and apps that you can’t live without? Well, back in the day, Microsoft dropped the data-filled ball big time and left Sidekick users without all that beautiful, digital data.

Server WarningSidekick servers weren’t properly set up, so when things went bump in the night, data was lost.

And for some, this data loss was permanent.

While this might not be 100% Microsoft’s fault (Sidekick was a recent acquisition), it does fall back on them.

In this particular case, there are a few things to note:

  1. At the time, Danger (the previous owner of Sidekick) was using outdated technology to manage its data center. Because of this, things went sideways rather quickly.
  2. Microsoft failed to properly handle the acquisition of Sidekick data. If they had conducted a technology audit at any point, they certainly failed to prioritize the urgency of data backup and recovery.
  3. Some data was permanently lost — which has to mean that some data was backed up and replicated elsewhere, while some was not. Why this was true for certain users, and not true for others, will remain a mystery.

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Whether you’re in a similar situation or not, there are a few things you need to be aware of — things that remain true if you’re acquiring massive amounts of new data or simply trying to protect what you already have.

  1. From PCs to software to servers, every piece of technology you use should be up-to-date at all times — ESPECIALLY anything that works with sensitive data. For something like a server (and a data center as a whole), this will require regular maintenance and professional support.
  2. Maybe Microsoft conducted a technology audit, maybe they didn’t. Either way, this type of issue can be detected early with an audit and then remedied with a detailed and priority-driven IT roadmap.
  3. Much like the issues found in a technology audit, data should be prioritized. What kind of data absolutely needs to be backed up at all costs, what needs to be recovered the quickest, and how long can you go without a particular type of data? These questions will help you understand what should be given the most attention. In the case of Sidekick, all user data should be considered extremely sensitive — but was it actually? Who knows?

Home Depot loses the wrong laptop

Again, data loss is an “everyday” thing, and even a highly technical individual or well-versed business professional can accidentally or absentmindedly become the root cause of lost data.

Consider Home Depot.

Laptop with social security numberBack in the day, a regional manager for Home Depot left his laptop in the car. While that might not seem like a big deal, it is if that laptop contains the personal data of 10,000 HD employees.

And mind you … this data wasn’t just any data. It was social security numbers, addresses, names, and more.

Not cool, Home Depot.

While this is considered a form of data loss, it’s more so a fine example of a data breach — BUT,  when it comes to whether or not this data still exists, it probably does (because it’s most likely backed up somewhere else).

So what can you learn from this?

Image of a disappointed business owner

Well, let’s imagine for a second that this is a small business and their only sales guy had his laptop stolen. On his laptop, there were a handful of unique spreadsheets that contain customer data and ongoing project information.

Now what? Well, for starters …

  1. You just had a data breach, and you now have sensitive data floating around in the public space. You have no idea who’s seen it, who has access to it, or where it’ll end up.
  2. Since that information isn’t backed up anywhere else, you actually did lose sensitive data. You’ll have to spend the time, money, and resources it requires to attempt to rebuild that data. No guarantee that you will.

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Here’s what you need to do to be ready:

  1. Backup your sensitive data. If you know there are individuals on your team that carry around sensitive data (especially data that is exclusive to a person’s role), then you need to make sure it’s regularly backed up. What if someone else needs to see it one day? Or worse, what if that person quits? There are too many ‘what ifs’ in this scenario to not backup your data automatically.
  2. There should be rules and guidelines in place. What can employees use and how should data be stored? For example — your employees can only use Office 365 to create company-related documents, and those documents should all be stored in a shared company folder on the network.
  3. Rules and guidelines should go above and beyond file sharing processes and procedures. You also need something in place that dictates how to protect your mobile devices — this means passwords, remote-wiping apps, and more. If information does go missing, you need to have the proper safeguards in place to protect that information from prying eyes.  

These are just a few examples of everyday data loss in the business world. Obviously, data loss expands to cover far more than poor backup procedures and a stolen laptop. If you’d like to learn how to better secure and protect your data, take a look at our backup solution, Data Defender