Data Loss: Hazards, Risks and Strategies for Prevention

Many organizations and enterprises are constantly under threat of a cyber attack. Although data may be lost in a hacking incident, it can also be due to other intentional or accidental reasons. For example, you cannot rule out physical data theft, human error, computer viruses, faulty hardware, power failure, and natural disasters. One way to mitigate the loss of vital information is to have a sound backup system, which will improve the chances of recovering the data. Several data security platforms and programs are also available, specifically to safeguard an enterprise’s entire network system.

Common causes and implications of losing data

Loss of data can be costly for an enterprise. If the organization is negligent in deploying network security, losing vast amounts of data through data breaches or data theft will always be a threat, given that cyberattacks in various forms are escalating.

The most common cause of loss of data is human error. Organizations and enterprises undergo data manipulation in the day-to-day running of their business. While employees do their tasks, there are chances of making errors, including accidental data file deletions, spillage of liquids, and intentional data theft.

Employees should know that regular data backup is vital. Regular saving of work and plans for the systematic backing up of data should be part of the workflow procedures of any enterprise. However, enterprises should be prepared for the worst-case scenario, such as a catastrophic network failure, which can cause the entire data collection of a company to disappear completely.

Data loss can lead to many detrimental consequences, such as the following:

  • Business disruption. The backbone of any business is data, and when data is lost, it affects the functionality of an enterprise. As a result, the company has to divert resources and time of operation to address the loss of data and focus on data recovery before the incident causes more challenges for the business.
  • Damaged reputation. Companies that had data breaches usually suffer damaged reputations. Customers typically perceive the company as negligent and unreliable, which can cause a business to close shop.
  • Financial implications. Any data breach has financial implications. The affected company will not have the means to operate for a time and make money. Simultaneously, the company must use its financial resources for data recovery and spend more to restore business reputation, pay the fines imposed by regulators for not following data protection guidelines and laws, and other incidental expenses involving public and legal issues.

Cost of data loss and the factors that drive its cost

Cybersecurity remains very important today amid the increase in network security programs. Cybercriminals continue to come up with techniques to thwart security protocols. Their attacks are more varied and resource-draining, making efforts to prevent and respond to cyber threats a primary concern.

A Security Intelligence article cites that the 2021 average cost of a data breach is $4.24 million, the highest on record. If you assume that remote working contributes to the data breaches occurring in the past year and a half, the average reaches $4.96 million.

Organizations with remote working arrangements spent an average of $1.07 million on damages caused by data breaches. Remote working also increased the number of days to 58 to identify and contain a data breach. Remote working has also created greater data security risks.

The longer it takes to contain a cyberattack, the more expensive it becomes. The maximum threshold is 200 days. However, the impact of today’s data breaches raised the average to 287 days, which increased the average cost to $4.87 million. The total number of days constitutes 212 days to identify the violation and 75 days to contain it.

Among the many targets of cyber attacks, the healthcare industry is always the hardest hit. In 2020, the sector paid an average of $7.13 million. But in 2021, the average cost reached $9.23 million. Incidentally, in 44 percent of the data breaches the healthcare and other industries, the Customer PII (customer’s personally identifiable information) is the most expensive. In 2021, $180 is the average cost of a lost PII.

It is easy to surmise how substantial financial losses the enterprises and organizations incurred due to these hackers, whose primary motivations now are financial gains and one-upmanship within their dark circle.

EasyJet announced on May 12, 2020, that nine million customer’s debit and credit card records were accessed by cyber hackers, with an estimated financial loss of $50 million. About 10 million people filed a joint lawsuit against the company, which can raise the financial implication higher depending on the result of the case, as each victim may receive $2,500 as compensation.

Cyber gangs attacked the Automatic Funds Transfer Services, the billing contractor of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), on February 18, 2021. The ransomware attack on the billing contractor exposed drivers’ personal information from the DMV’s records for the past 20 months.

More than half a million Facebook users’ data were exposed on April 3, 2021, with an estimated cost of $3.7 million. However, for unknown reasons, Facebook did not inform the affected users.

Common strategies for data loss prevention and why organizations should adopt them

Enterprise data loss can be disastrous and expensive for any enterprise, big or small, which is why data loss prevention is vital. Enterprises can employ various programs to enhance their network security and prevent data loss. In addition, they can use several strategies to manage data breaches.

  • Data backup and encryption. Among the various strategies, regular data backup is one of the critical strategies organizations should implement. When backing up data, ensure that you have several copies of it. Keep the copies separate and store them on an external hard drive, a remote server, or in the cloud. Only authorized persons should know where you store the backup files. Encrypt sensitive data to prevent accidental exposure.
  • Software updates. Many software contains vulnerabilities. You can prevent data breaches from vulnerable applications through regular updates.
  • Risk assessments. Regular vulnerability assessments are critical. Enterprises must constantly review and address new risks and changes in protecting data. It is vital to consider every aspect, including employee’s remote access and data storage. In addition, your organization’s procedures and policies for data protection must be adequate.
  • Data loss prevention (DLP). If you want a more comprehensive approach, you can employ DLP, a set of processes and tools used to prevent data loss, unauthorized access, and misuse. The program defines the categories of data priority from low-risk, to sensitive, to critical. The program operates in accord with the security guidelines and regulations of your organization.  


It is vital to recognize that data loss has a severe impact on business. It will affect a company’s overall finances, productivity, and reputation. Therefore, ensuring that you use the most comprehensive and suitable data protection solutions for your enterprise will be your most robust defense against cyber threats.

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