Mistakes made by employees are the leading cause of data loss incidents within UK organisations, new research has found.
A survey of over 400 IT decision-makers conducted by Databarracks found almost a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) admitted to experiencing a data loss as the result of human error in the last 12 months.
This was the most common cause of such incidents overall, followed by hardware failure (21 per cent) and corrupted files (19 per cent).
Small businesses were found to be particularly badly affected by human error, as when the survey results were broken down by business size, larger companies were revealed to be more susceptible to hardware failure, whereas employee mistakes were the number one issue for less-sizeable firms.
Oscar Arean, technical operations manager at Databarracks, said this is not surprising, as larger businesses typically have far more stringent user policies in place that can limit the amount of damage individuals can cause. However, systems at smaller companies tend to be more lax, which opens up more risks when it comes to data loss.
“Human error has consistently been the biggest area of concern for organisations when it comes to data loss,” Mr Arean continued. “People will always be your weakest link, but having said that, there is a lot that businesses could be doing to prevent it, so we’d expect this figure to be lower.”
To combat these issues, he suggested small companies need to adopt a similar ethos to their larger counterparts when it comes to managing the risks posed by human error, although they will not typically have the resources to formulate policies that restrict user permissions, and users in small companies are often more accountable for their roles. Mr Arean said this is not necessarily a bad thing, but there need to be processes in place to manage the risks that come with this.
“Small organisations don’t need an extensive policy on the same scale that a large enterprise would, but their employees need to be properly educated on best practice for handling data and the consequences of their actions on the business as a whole,” he said.
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