Beware the fat finger when it comes to cloudy data loss

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.

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Human error is responsible for one in five data loss errors, according to the latest study from cloud provider Databarracks.

The study, the fifth annual Data Health Check report, found that employee idiocy was the third most popular reason for data going missing with 18% of the vote, behind software failure (19%) and hardware failure (21%). Interestingly, corruption and theft were responsible for 15% and 7% of the poll respectively.

Yet it’s the larger companies who continue to foul up. 22% of large organisations listed human error as the main cause of data loss over the last 12 months, compared to 6% of small organisations.

The report examines the cost of backup and disaster recovery. While a third (32%) of respondents spend less than half an hour on backup, a similar number (33%) take more than two hours or employ dedicated staff.

Worryingly, 41% of small organisations don’t have a business continuity plan and don’t intend to implement one in the next year. A third (35%) of respondents don’t test their disaster systems due to lack of time, compared with 18% for cost and 18% for lack of relevant skills.

“This isn’t a case of security becoming less important as you adopt more cloud services – data security is always going to be a priority for both the organisation and the provider,” said Peter Groucutt, managing director of Databarracks. “What we’re actually seeing is organisations moving past the ‘fear of the unknown’, as they experience cloud services first-hand.”

A fat finger can still have the power to bring down the cloud, at least temporarily. Back in May Joyent’s entire US-East-1 data centre hit the skids because of a typo. The command may have been mistyped, yet there was no override or verification: a reboot command to every server in the US-East-1 zone was sent, to the chagrin of commentators.

“There are broader systemic issues that allowed a fat finger to take down a data centre,” Joyent CTO Brian Cantrill wrote.

This case wasn’t so much data loss as data inconvenience, but plenty of cases in recent memory have proved employees are a serious risk to your corporate data, by accident or design. British supermarket chain Morrisons had data of employee salaries breached by an employee, while a study from EE in March found that employees were more of a threat to businesses than cyber criminals.

Databarracks released a complete disaster recovery kit tool last month in a bid to help smaller businesses get themselves organised in the case of a data breach.

You can take a look at the full set of survey results here.

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