Spooky Halloween: 5 Companies That Had Their Data Murdered
By: Devin Partida on November 2, 2020
This Halloween, the spookiest thing lurking in the shadows isn't a ghost or goblin, but data loss. While that phrase may not strike fear into anyone's heart, it's a far graver threat than any ghoul. In a world where digitization and data management are everything, losing data could be disastrous.
It's not just a ghost story, either. Data loss through printers alone cost businesses an average of $400,000 in 2019. It can come from virtually anywhere and lead to substantial losses.
These five companies understand the threat of data loss all too well:
Losing critical data isn't a new problem, as beloved animation company Pixar can attest to. In 1998, while Pixar was working on Toy Story 2, one line of code deleted 90% of their progress on the film. The company lost everything from animated sequences to character models.
Thankfully, the supervising technical director had a backup on her personal computer. Had it not been for that reserve copy, Pixar would've probably had to delay the film by at least a year. It could've resulted in massive monetary and job losses.
2. Coplin Health Systems
In a more recent example, an incident at Coplin Health Systems risked 43,000 patient records in 2017. When an employee left their unencrypted laptop in their car, it didn't take long for someone to steal it. While Coplin took steps to prevent any patient data loss, it's unclear how successful they were.
Many conversations around loss prevention focus on digital solutions. As this case highlights, though, physical threats like theft can jeopardize records, too. Any unsecured physical storage or network endpoint is a liability.
3. AMAG Pharmaceuticals
AMAG Pharmaceuticals, another health care company, also experienced a close call with losing critical data. When they moved an HR folder in Google Drive, a sync error deleted the folder's entire contents. If AMAG hadn't instituted a backup platform beforehand, those files would've been gone permanently.
If businesses aren't careful in moving to the cloud, errors like this can happen. Steps like implementing additional cybersecurity and migrating to the cloud in pieces can reduce risks like these. While many companies transition to the cloud without trouble, these mitigation steps are essential.
Not even a company as well-established as Microsoft is immune to the threat of data loss. In 2018, a Windows 10 update deleted some users' files, causing Microsoft to pause its rollout. Some users lost their entire Documents and Pictures folders permanently.
Windows users had been warning Microsoft about related issues for months before this update launched. Whether or not Microsoft had worked to address these concerns in the update is unclear. Still, it stands as a notable example of the importance of listening to user feedback.
In 2014, Sony experienced one of the most famous instances of data loss in modern history. A cyberattack from what investigators suspected to be North Korean hackers led to lost emails, employee data and even unreleased movies. Sony had to pay $8 million in damages over the lost employee data alone.
Sony's case is unusually extreme, but it does emphasize how severe these incidents can be. Any companies that don't think data loss prevention is necessary can look to Sony's example as a counterargument.
Data Loss Is Scarier Than Any Ghoul
These companies all encountered data loss and lived to tell the tale, but not all businesses will be so lucky. A substantial enough loss could mean the end of a small enterprise. In light of these threats, data loss prevention strategies are essential for any company.
Data loss is real and can happen to anyone. As Halloween approaches, it's not the things that go bump in the night that businesses should worry about. It's their data.
About Devin Partida
Devin Partida is the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com, as well as a freelance writer specializing in data security, smart tech and network infrastructure topics.