5 data loss nightmares you can learn something from

No one wants their data lost, stolen, breached, or corrupted … especially if this data incorporates sensitive information.

Like social security numbers.

In this case, the data loss would be less than ideal.

But after the latest round of massive data breaches, most people have almost become desensitized to data loss. After that Equifax breach, it can’t really get any worse, now can it?

Maybe. Maybe not.

However, as a business professional, it’s still your responsibility to protect your company’s data — whether data loss is considered normal or not. And it’s not just breaches you have to worry about. In the Equifax breach, data was simply “exposed.” The data is still there; it’s just also in other places. Nonetheless, the majority of people will lump it into a “data loss” category.

On top of breaches, however, a company needs to worry about cyber attacks that actually take your data (not just expose it). This could be something like ransomware — a threat that encrypts all of your data. Or a run-of-the-mill virus that corrupts your data and makes it indecipherable.

But again, cyber threats aren’t the only things on the data loss block. You also have to think about accidents, natural disasters, hardware malfunctions, and software issues. Each situation is more than capable of taking your data and making it look like it never even existed.

Here are 5 real-life examples of data loss nightmares.

Daily Mail

Daily Mail repeatedly reports on companies that lose data. They detail the events and criticize from afar. So when Daily Mails publisher, Associated Newspapers, lost a laptop that contained the sensitive, personal information of thousands of staff members, it was their turn to be criticized.

While the laptop was password-protected, this doesn’t mean the laptop would have been impossible to crack. In the right hands, the names, addresses, and banking information of the affected staffers would have been more than accessible. In fact, to this day, there’s no saying that someone can’t log into the missing computer and maliciously use the information contained on the device.

At the end of the day, a lost device is considered a form of data loss. And in some cases, data loss that stems from a lost or stolen device can be hard to recover from. Imagine if that laptop contained data that was not backed up and hard to replicate.

T-Mobile’s Sidekick

Hardware malfunctions are not fun, especially if those malfunctions have anything to do with your server. At this point, it can quickly go from not fun to reputation damaging, and in 2009 T-Mobile was unlucky enough to feel the sting of a server malfunction.

Back then, Danger was a company owned by Microsoft. It was responsible for making the once popular Sidekicks for T-Mobile. Sidekick data was not stored locally and instead, was stored in the cloud on Microsoft’s servers.

Apparently, a server malfunctioned, which resulted in massive data loss. As a consequence, the majority of Sidekick users lost photos, contacts, calendar entries, and more. It was a dire situation for T-Mobile, especially once it was brought to everyone’s attention that T-Mobile did not have a redundant backup solution.

They were forced to release an embarrassing public apology that gave Sidekick users absolutely no hope for recovery. Instead, they provided helpful tips to “help you rebuild your personal content.”

Ashley Madison

Data breaches don’t always occur for the sake of money. Sometimes, it’s just people looking to stir up some drama — which happened with Ashley Madison back in 2015.

This website isn’t known for anything particularly good. In fact, its tagline is, “Life is short. Have an affair.” It’s not exactly a company that people will openly admit to being involved with. But nonetheless, Ashley Madison users weren’t given very much choice in the matter when hackers discovered a vulnerability in the way login information was stored.

After this vulnerability was discovered and the hackers dumped the personal information of Ashley Madison users on the internet, people were not happy and the company itself was not in a good position.

As a result of the multiple data dumps, people lost their jobs, and others started looking for someone to sue.

National Archives and Records Administration

Daily Mail wasn’t the only business to suffer from data loss as the result of lost or stolen hardware. In 2009, the NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) also suffered the same fate.

But instead of a laptop, an external hard drive went missing. This specific hard drive contained the personal information of people who may have worked or visited the White House during the Clinton administration.

The NARA had to send out more than 15,000 letters to the individuals who may have been affected by the missing hard drive. They notified them of the data breach and offered one year of free credit monitoring services — a service that could definitely get expensive, especially when you’re talking about tens of thousands of people.

And things get even more expensive when you think of the manhours it took to rebuild that lost data (if that was even possible).

The England Prison System

A few years back, a prison in England sent the records of 84,000 prisoners to a consultant firm they had partnered with. Afterwards, an employee at the consultant firm decided it was a good idea to download all of those records onto a personal USB drive.

And of course, that USB drive was lost a few days later.

While this isn’t exactly the prison’s fault, it’s still considered their responsibility, and at the end of the day, the public blames the prison for the loss of data.

Ultimately, this should be a lesson — never partner with a company or person you can’t trust with your sensitive data.

 

These examples of everyday data loss should make it obvious that properly backing up your data is more important than ever. Data loss can happen for a variety of reasons, and no business or industry is immune to these reasons.

If you’re looking for help securing and backing up your data, then give us a call or send us a message today. Here at Cognoscape, we specialize in data backup and recovery, and we’d love to talk to your business about securing its data.