Top 10 data disasters show importance of device strategy

A woman who gave her hard drive a spin in her washing machine, a man who performed a hit and run on his camera and an iPad which took an impromptu swim in the Gulf of Guinea were just some of the catastrophes which made Kroll Ontrack’s end of year data disaster list.

The ninth annual ‘top 10 data disasters’ list from the data recovery expert found amusing, shocking and just plain baffling stories relayed to Kroll Ontrack engineers throughout the course of the year.

It’s been said that every CEO’s worst nightmare is to lose a corporate-enabled device, but that might not be entirely true when considering the 10 unfortunates in Kroll Ontrack’s list:

  • A woman in France accidentally put her external hard drive in the laundry basket, with the family cat – deciding to rest on top – obscuring the drive from view. The hard drive didn’t appreciate the spin cycle.
  • A graphic designer in Poland had finished a painstaking logo, opened a bottle of wine to celebrate before spilling the glass on his device.
  • A resources company in Australia accidentally deleted a VMware machine and several snapshots in the Gobi Desert, one of the most remote areas on the planet.
  • Resourceful burglars in Australia, having raided a pool and spa shop, poured hydrochloric acid on the shop floor and counters, damaging the shop’s computer and point of sale terminal.
  • An unnamed worker in Nigeria dropped an iPad containing vital data off the side of an oil rig.
  • A city worker in the US put his backpack on a footpath whilst waiting for a bus. The bus eventually arrived and promptly squashed the backpack, which contained a distinctly flatter iPad.
  • An US employee who had just been fired went to the obvious first port of call – a fast food restaurant. He concluded that revenge was a dish best served with extra fries and decided to log onto the Wi-Fi network he still had access to and delete every bit of company data in sight.
  • A man in Poland attempted to park his car in a shopping centre, but was dissatisfied with his effort. Having got out of the car to investigate, on the second attempt there was a distinct crunching sound from one of the tyres. It turned out to be his camera, which fell out of his pocket mid-investigation.
  • A Middle Eastern oil company had a malware infection of over 30,000 workstations before a problem was spotted.
  • An IT manager in Spain had decided there was nothing wrong with a RAID5 configured server even though there was a big red blinking light on the front panel signifying one of the disk drives had failed. Three weeks later, ignoring the red blinking light, the data became inaccessible.

In every case Kroll Ontrack was thankfully able to recover the data; however it does raise concerns over companies not having data backup in place if a device gets lost, stolen or broken.

But again, this research arguably shows that it doesn’t matter how good a company’s data, device or security policy – the human error element can still scupper any plan.

UK-based research from Sophos had shown that one in three people surveyed had lost a device, with many of them potentially containing sensitive data.

James Easton, pre-sales consultant at Real Status, discussed the security implications of BYOD, saying: “There are some basic security rules that should be implemented at minimum, but they are all dependent on individual employees being trusted to stick to them all the time.”

What's the biggest data disaster you've ever experienced?

 

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