The leading causes of SaaS data loss (and how you can prevent it)

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

For many cloud users, one of the primary benefits of cloud computing is that your cloud provider uses redundant systems to store your data. And while this may be true, it doesn’t mean your data is safe.

Data loss is something every organization guards against. Images of clandestine programmers in a dimly lit room hacking into remote servers and stealing critical data has been seared into our collective consciousness by the media. However, reality, as is many times the case, paints a different picture. In fact, one survey cites that data loss as a result of theft only accounts for 9% of all incidents. And when it comes to data stored on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) networks that number goes even lower.  

As a January 2013 SaaS data loss report from the Aberdeen Group shows, it’s not hackers we have to worry about when it comes to data loss; it’s ourselves. The Aberdeen Group conducted a survey with 123 organizations to see how they are using cloud computing as part of their overall IT strategy. The survey showed that 60% of the organizations have been using cloud services for more than two years. Of the services used, SaaS was far and away the most prevalent with 80% of respondents who use cloud services saying they use it for SaaS.

Considering the popularity of remote web hosting and services like Salesforce and Google Apps, this number isn’t that surprising. What is a bit more concerning is that 32% of these companies using SaaS services have reported losing data. And of those losing data, nearly two-third (64%) reported human error as the cause.

The problem stems from a lack of understanding of what data is stored by SaaS providers. Although many people think that those cloud service providers keep backups of your data, the data they keep is only for their own business continuity purposes. That is, if their systems go down, they will have a copy of your data for recovery. It’s simply a snapshot of your dataset at the point of disruption. But, if an employee accidentally deletes critical files (47% of all SaaS data loss) or overwrites data (17% of all SaaS data loss), there is usually nothing your SaaS provider can do. As the report states, “However, once an individual data element in an SaaS application gets changed and the application closed, there is little to no ability to recall the old data.”

The good news is that there is an easy solution to SaaS data loss: cloud backup. This is especially important if you are using SaaS cloud applications like Google Apps, Salesforce, or Office 365 that truly contain mission-critical data. Cloud backup providers, like Cloudfinder, backup and store a clean, secure copy of your data set. If anything goes wrong, you can simply restore this data set and recover your information.  

As studies have shown there is nothing you can do about human error. It’s in our nature to make mistakes. What you can do is make sure your data is securely backed up on a daily basis and easily recoverable. Let us know what you think. Have you ever been victim to accidental data loss from human error?

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