Articles & Thought Leadership | 8 min read

The Top 5 Causes of Business Data Loss And How to Combat Them


Lauryn Cash
Lauryn Cash

Discover the most common causes of data loss and how to prevent them from impacting your organization.

man typing on computer preventing data loss

Business data loss can cause serious damage to your organization. Data loss happens when files are accidentally deleted, corrupted, or stolen. Additionally, hardware damage, computer viruses, and even simple human error can cause significant data loss. These result in necessary investments of both time and money for businesses to recover data critical and restore business operations.

The average cost of downtime can reach $4,500 per minute when recovering from data loss, and there are no guarantees of completely restoring all files, data, and sensitive information. However, protection against major data loss is possible with the proper safeguards and security measures in place.

Data loss prevention (DLP) can help you avoid the inconvenience, costs, and reputational damage associated with business data loss. Today we’ll review five common causes of data loss and how to prevent them from affecting your business.

Human Error

Although people are an essential part of any organization, we are still prone to making mistakes. For example, a study from IBM found that human error is the leading cause of 95 percent of data breaches.

Unbeknownst to an employee, critical files can be overwritten or permanently deleted. This usually happens because employees are distracted, unclear on the proper methods of file access or saving, or not paying close enough attention. No matter the reason, the results are the same – potentially drastic consequences due to data loss.

File backups are critical to avoiding the aftermath of business data loss caused by human error. Implementing a scheduled data backup plan – once a day or more, depending on how often files are updated – is an easy solution to combating data loss. You can also prevent the data loss risk by investing in training employees to handle files properly. Employees who know how to save, revise, and back up their data correctly are vital in protecting sensitive data.

Cybercrime: Ransomware, Malware, and Phishing Attacks

Cybercrime continues to be of great concern for businesses across all industries as sophisticated cyberattacks like ransomware continue to increase. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts sophisticated cyberattacks will increase, stating a new attack every two seconds is expected across businesses, consumers, and devices by 2031.

As hackers continually refine their malware payloads, they can steal millions of dollars in just one ransomware attack. Unfortunately, businesses often get the short end of the stick with no guarantee that they’ll ever recover their stolen files or data, even after paying a ransom.

Cyberthreats like malware and phishing attacks can lead to significant business data loss as scammers continue to target employees. Sophisticated attacks like spear phishing target specific employees into entering login credentials on malicious websites. Exfiltrating this data enables scammers to penetrate systems and steal sensitive business data and classified information.

Social engineering is used in phishing attacks to manipulate end-users into sharing sensitive information. Best practices to protect your business and employees include using email security technology that informs end-users of threats through contextual warning banners.

Enabling employees to identify these threats is the most effective way to avoid falling victim. In addition, investing in effective antivirus software and tools will protect your systems from unauthorized access.


Mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops allow employees to work from anywhere; unfortunately, they are also small enough to be easily stolen. This increased flexibility gives employees access to corporate files, confidential documents, and financial information across personal devices, making the data more valuable than the device itself.

Among IT professionals, 86 percent reported that someone in their organization has had a laptop lost or stolen, with 56 percent saying that the theft resulted in a data breach.

To reduce the risk of theft and corporate espionage, ensure all devices that access sensitive business data can be erased remotely if lost or stolen. In addition, you should regularly back up all devices (tablets, laptops, and desktop computers) to a safe location like an external hard drive or cloud-based storage.

Equipment and Software Failure

In 40 percent of cases, hardware failure, such as a damaged or malfunctioning hard drive, causes business data loss.

Hard drives are the most important and most fragile part of a computer. Simple accidents such as spilling a drink on a laptop can result in physical damage that leads to data loss. To minimize the risk of damage due to common accidents, enforce policies around specific areas where employees can have open containers to prevent harm to company assets.

If an application crashes before you can save or back up your files, you can lose or corrupt essential data. Avoid software failures by:

  • Saving files often (enabling auto-save when applicable is a quick solution)
  • Shutting down software after every use
  • Ensuring all applications are closed before powering down computers or laptops

Natural Disasters, Emergencies, and Power Outages

Natural disasters such as fires, hurricanes, severe weather are causes of data loss that unfortunately cannot be prevented. For example, an unexpected power failure can interrupt computer processes and corrupt files, rendering them unreadable. Likewise, severe weather can take down systems in a matter of minutes, resulting in significant business data loss if you don’t have contingencies in place.

Using cloud storage rather than on-premises storage ensures that sensitive business data loss won’t result if disaster strikes.

Guard Against Business Data Loss With Armorblox

With the adoption of technology and software throughout business operations, business data loss has become an even greater risk. Not only does losing your data cost time and money to recover, but extended downtime or compromised client information can damage your professional reputation.

Armorblox Financial and Data Loss Prevention reduces false positives and prevents accidental or malicious data exposure with unauthorized recipients. Armorblox uses advanced algorithms to analyze thousands of signals to identify risk exposure. Plus, NLU and AI techniques create an autonomous security posture to help protect your business from data loss.

In addition, our out-of-the-box detection policies and automatable response actions take the busy work of data loss prevention out of your hands so you can focus on core business needs.

To learn more about Armorblox, take a quick product tour below.

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