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Data Loss Statistics that Prove Every Business Needs a Backup Solution

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Dale Shulmistra

Data Protection Specialist @ Invenio IT

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statistics on data loss

The modern world runs on data, and without it, things quickly grind to a halt. Businesses use data for everything — sales, marketing, logistics, staffing. What happens when that data is lost? The outcome is different for everyone, but it’s never good.

The sheer amount of data being stored, processed, and managed every day is staggering, and experts predict that the global datasphere will grow to more than 180 zettabytes by 2025. Among all that data are your business’s confidential and sensitive files, applications, and documents. Check out these essential data loss statistics to learn why you’re at risk and how data backups help you achieve long-term success.

Which Industries Are Vulnerable to Data Loss?

The short answer? All of them.

However, when you look at which types of organizations can suffer the most damage from lost data, things get a little more complex. Data loss is expensive for everyone, and highly regulated sectors have to be especially vigilant about data backups because of potential penalties and fines. The industries that are most susceptible include:

  • Healthcare: With extensive oversight, strict privacy laws like the Health Insurance Accountability and Portability Act (HIPAA), and increasing attacks by cyber criminals, healthcare organizations top the list of at-risk industries. Data gathered by Statista shows that the average cost of a data breach in the healthcare industry is $10.93 million.
  • Financial services: Businesses operating in financial services are attractive targets for ransomware and, like healthcare companies, are heavily regulated. On average, a data breach in a financial services organization costs $5.9 million.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Data breaches in the pharmaceutical industry are nearly as expensive, averaging $4.82 million. Between 2018 and 2021, a reported 58% of pharma executives had their corporate credentials exposed in breaches.
  • Technology: With an average data breach cost of $4.62 million, technology companies are prominent targets for cyber attackers, and the problem may be larger than people realize. Some businesses have begun using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) as a means of keeping incidents hidden from the eyes of the public and regulators.
  • Energy companies: A recent report revealed that 90% of the biggest energy companies in the world experienced a third-party data breach over the past year. The average cost of a data breach in the energy industry is $4.78 million.

Other high-value targets include organizations in education, manufacturing, and retail. All in all, there were 3,205 cases of data compromises in the United States in 2023, affecting more than 353 million individuals.

How Frequently Do Businesses Back Up Their Data?

With so much at stake, it seems safe to assume that every organization would back up its data regularly. While the rate of backups saw a drastic uptick following the onset of the COVID pandemic and the corresponding rise in remote work, numbers have since dropped off.

In 2022, 20% of computer owners never backed up their data and 26% performed backups less often than once a year. Comparing that to the mere 10% who backed up their data every day makes it obvious why alarm bells should be ringing for organizations.

Meanwhile, business leadership has become more aware of the importance of data backups, but that doesn’t mean they’re fully protected. In a recent survey of IT decision-makers, 99% said they have backup strategies in place. However, 26% of them acknowledged that they couldn’t fully restore all their data or documents when recovering from a backup.

What Types of Data Backups Do Businesses Use to Prevent Data Loss?

Companies that make use of data backups can choose from a range of options that vary in price and convenience. Over the past decade, there have been significant shifts in the data backup formats that organizations choose.

Preferred Backup Types

Businesses can store their data on-premises using hardware or in the cloud using a private or public service. Recent studies have found that cloud storage is by far the more popular choice:

  • Local: Among businesses, 33% of users now rely exclusively on local backups. That’s a marked decrease from previous years.
  • Cloud: As of 2022, around 60% of all corporate data was stored in the cloud. Among the businesses that use cloud backups, 87% use multiple clouds, and 72% take a hybrid approach involving both public and private clouds.
  • Hybrid: Although many experts believe hybrid backup combining cloud and local storage is the best possible data backup solution, only 12% of IT users were using this model as of the most recent study.

Expense data shows the same trend toward cloud storage. Up until a few years ago, spending on physical data centers was significantly higher than on cloud services. The numbers flipped 2020, and they’ve stayed that way ever since.

In 2022, enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services reached $227 billion, an increase of $47 million compared to 2021. Although spending on data center hardware and software also grew, it totaled only around $100 billion.

Cloud Types

While cloud backups have become far more popular in recent years, it’s worth noting that the type of cloud service can make an enormous difference in the cost of a data breach. Using the public cloud might seem like the most cost-effective option for data storage, but that trend doesn’t hold if you fall victim to a data breach.

These statistics from IBM’s “Cost of a Data Breach 2023” report are illuminating on that point:

  • Breaches were most expensive for data stored across multiple environments, reaching $4.75 million in 2022.
  • For organizations that use public cloud storage, the cost of a data breach was $4.57 million.
  • The cost of a breach for organizations that store their data in private clouds was $3.98 million.

The higher expense of data breaches across multiple environments is due, in part, to organizations using outdated systems. IBM recommends using a modernized backup solution to keep the number and impact of breaches down. Opting for a trustworthy, affordable hybrid backup rather than a public cloud service could ultimately save your business millions in losses.

Understanding Data Responsibility

Beyond the potential cost of a breach, businesses also have to consider the likelihood of recovery when choosing a backup type. Saving data to a public cloud service is fast, easy, and free, but it also increases the chances that you’ll lose your data permanently.

A worrying 43% of IT decision-makers mistakenly assume that public cloud providers are responsible for their lost data. It’s only when their files suddenly vanish that they discover that the cloud service provider can’t or won’t do anything to help recover them.

If you rely solely on a public cloud, keep in mind that you bear the sole responsibility for data recovery in the event of an attack, deletion, or corruption of your files. Working with a trusted data backup provider that combines cloud and local storage alleviates some of this burden and ensures that you’ll have access to your files when you need them.

What Kind of Data Should You Include in a Backup?

When businesses think of backups, they might focus only on essential applications and files. However, there are many different types of data that you should protect.

Databases

Businesses keep some of their most vital and sensitive information in databases. As a result, these files are also much more likely to be backed up than other forms of data. As of 2019, 91% of organizations worldwide used some form of backup to protect their databases.

Email

Email remains a primary source of information sharing within businesses, which means that it’s also a major repository of data. It also happens to be at an especially high level of risk. A 2023 report found that:

  • 83% of organizations experienced email data breaches in the past year.
  • 80% of employees use email to share sensitive data with clients and colleagues.
  • 85% of employees are sending more emails now than in the past.
  • 96% of IT leaders with Microsoft 365 (M365) were concerned about data loss through email.

Email data loss is a serious concern, yet even businesses with otherwise strong cybersecurity measures in place often fail to back it up. Using technology designed specifically for this kind of data, such as an M365 backup solution, can help mitigate the risk.

SaaS

Despite the growing popularity of software as a service (SaaS) for business use, many organizations fail to back up their SaaS data. In a 2023 survey, 53% of respondents said that they’d lost data on SaaS applications in the past year.

Unfortunately, more than half of those same respondents said that they still aren’t doing anything to protect that data. This is especially discouraging considering that there are high-quality SaaS backup solutions available on the market.

Other Data Types

Backups for other valuable forms of data are hit-and-miss. For instance, 62% of organizations back up proprietary application data. On the other hand, only 28% back up data from research and development, thus leaving highly important documents and files vulnerable to disasters that could be lurking just around the corner.

How Do Businesses Lose Their Data?

From tornadoes to power outages to hardware failures, there are many potential causes of data loss. While natural disasters like floods are a legitimate fear, they’re far from being the only threat to your data.

Common Causes of Data Loss

To see which other problems are cause for concern, let’s look at some information from the 2023 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report:

  • 74% of breaches in 2022 involved a human element, such as error or misuse.
  • 24% of all breaches involved ransomware.
  • 83% of breaches involved external actors, such as criminal organizations.
  • 49% of external actors used stolen credentials in their attacks.

Other issues that commonly lead to data loss include hardware failures, malware, and malicious deletion by internal employees.

Why the Cause of Data Loss Matters

Knowledge empowers you to make a plan that protects your valuable data. Hard drives, for example, are all destined to fail because they have a defined lifespan, generally ranging from three to six years. Businesses that are aware of this inherent limitation can schedule timely replacements to reduce the risk of unexpected failures that result in data loss.

Likewise, the knowledge that the human element plays a prominent role in so many breaches should motivate companies to offer their employees high-quality training and education. According to a recent survey, only 27% of companies conduct monthly security training even though human error is one of the most common culprits. Developing a thorough cybersecurity training program could prevent employees from unknowingly giving bad actors unauthorized access to sensitive material.

The data loss risks your business faces also inform the types of backups that you use. If you know that your physical premises are located in a flood plain, investing in off-premises and cloud backups could mean the difference between quickly restoring or completely losing access to your data.

How Can Businesses Save Money with Data Backups?

Data backups are one component of comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plans, which can help reduce downtime and maintain regulatory compliance. Although planning for disaster recovery and implementing regular data backups requires some form of financial investment, you’ll save in the long run.

IBM’s “Cost of a Data Report” highlights the financial reasons why you should prioritize disaster preparedness. Consider these statistics:

  • Faster containment: The cost of a data breach that a business contains in 200 days or less is 23% lower than one that stretches on for longer.
  • Testing response plans: Organizations that have an incident response team and perform regular plan testing identify their breaches 54 days faster than those who don’t.
  • Automated systems: Organizations that take advantage of developing technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, contain breaches more quickly and save an average of $1.76 million.

As the number and frequency of threats grow, businesses may not be able to avoid every instance of data loss. They can, however, reduce the financial damage by planning ahead and choosing the right data backup solutions.

What’s Next For Data Backups?

Although many businesses are not backing up their data as frequently as experts recommend, they’re increasingly aware of how important measures like these can be. In a 2023 survey, more than one-third of businesses said they planned to increase their cybersecurity spending over the next year, including expanding and upgrading their cloud systems.

In addition, 78% of businesses surveyed said that they plan to expand their use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. While there’s still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to data backups, these statistics are a strong indicator that businesses are taking data loss more seriously than they did in the past.

How Can Businesses Prevent Data Loss?

Every business has to be proactive when it comes to data loss. Don’t wait until a disaster is on your doorstep to make a recovery plan and deploy reliable backup solutions. There’s a chance you’ll get your data back with the help of a recovery service, but you can save substantial time and money if you stay a step ahead of the risk.

If you aren’t currently using a data backup solution or want to upgrade the one you have in place, the business continuity and disaster recovery experts at Invenio IT are ready to help. Reach out to learn more about how you can protect your business from the ever-present threat of data loss.

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