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Six threats to your data's safety

27 Mar 2017

Chalk cybercrime written on a blackboard

Given that just over half of IoD members have protected all of their devices, and less than a third use virtual private networks (VPNs), it’s likely that the remainder are unaware of just how many threats there are to data security out there. In fact, what we now call cyber-crime is just the start of it…  

1. Data breach

OK, so this is the stuff we all think about when we hear the phrase “data threat”. Hacking, viruses, malware, Trojans, spyware and the like. It can either wipe out your data or pilfer it and transmit it across the internet (the latter being the case with the Ashley Madison data breach of July 2015). 

2. Human error

It’s unlikely there’s anyone in existence who uses computers for their job who has never had the soul-crushing experience of losing an afternoon’s work. Yet many of us still under-estimate how easy it is to erase data accidentally. Software with undo and rollback functions minimises the risk.

3. Hardware failure

“Nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes”, Benjamin Franklin famously said – and were he alive today, the Founding Father would surely assert that the former applies to hard drives too. Like anything else with moving parts, they’re very delicate and sensitive, making reliable and regular back-up systems even more of a must. 

4. Natural disasters

Fires and floods are notoriously destructive, and data is no more immune to the dangers they pose than traditional paper files. Given that water and electricity are a match made in hell, cellars or basements are not the ideal place to store servers, and in any room containing them, pipes, plumbing and wires should be kept tidy and well out of the way. 

5. Theft

Data pilfering makes us all think of tech-savvy criminals huddled over laptops, often located a long way from what they’re stealing, but old-fashioned physical theft is also a threat. And with “bring your own device” (BYOD) culture seeing company data physically leave your business premises on a daily basis – and often frequent pubs and clubs on its way to employees’ homes - the risk of data theft of this nature has never been higher.

6. Malice

Anyone with access to company data – which, of course, includes employees – could copy or delete it. Disgruntled staff members have been known to erase data as an act of vengeance; unscrupulous ones may even decide to sell it to a competitor. 


The IoD has published its latest cyber security report and ‘how to’ guide on 27 March 2017. 

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