Human Error Is the Leading Cause of Business Data Loss

Human error is the leading cause of business data loss. Not sophisticated security breaches, hardware failures, or data corruption, but mistakes made by employees in the course of their work. 

There’s an old joke in the IT world: Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair (PEBCAK); that is, the human component in the system is the cause of the problem. Data loss is no different. Most studies put the data loss rate due to human error at around 25%. It is possible to reduce data loss with training and safeguards, but it is not possible to eradicate human error, which is one of the reasons secure offsite backups are so important.

rm -rf *

If you’re not familiar with the Unix command line, the “rm -rf” command means delete files and folders recursively without asking for confirmation. It has been the cause of many a disaster.

One of the most famous data loss incidents involves the almost complete deletion of Pixar’s original Toy Story. It appears someone ran an “rm -rf” command in the root directory by mistake and most of the movie went up in smoke.

Even worse, the backup system didn’t work properly because of disk size limitations — most of the movie would have been lost for good but for a copy that was made so that the movie’s Supervising Technical Director could work from home.

In a more recent example of human error, GitLab suffered a period of downtime when a developer accidentally deleted a primary database under the misapprehension that it was a secondary database.

This happened while developers were attempting to replicate the primary to the secondary location, so a huge amount of data was lost. Ordinarily, it would be simple to restore from a backup, but the backup system had failed because of a database version mismatch.

There are many such stories, and a common thread joins them: human error plus poorly designed and monitored backup systems can create chaos for businesses.

Human Error And Security

Data loss incidents are also often caused by indirect human error. An obvious example is failing to update software. Out of date software is often vulnerable to compromise, and ransomware attackers love nothing better than an out of date operating system or internet-facing service.

But on even the best secured systems, there is scope for human error. Criminals don’t often employ sophisticated hacking techniques because they know it’s far easier to pick up the phone or send an email to someone who works at the company. Phishing and other types of social engineering are devastatingly effective and routinely result in data loss.

Offsite Cloud Backup

Human error can’t be predicted or eliminated. But a secure, automated, offsite backup, disaster recovery and business continuity system can protect businesses against catastrophic data loss.

Colohouse offers a complete cloud backup and recovery platform. Our backup solutions are tailored to the needs of individual clients, with remote data storage and restoration, continuous data protection, database replication, virtual machine failover, and more. To learn how we can protect your company from data loss caused by human error, contact us today for a free assessment.

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