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Why are we losing 30% more of our data?

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

Despite being savvier than we’ve ever been when it comes to protecting our data, why then are we as consumers losing more than ever before?

In advance of World Backup Day on 31st March, Acronis has announced the findings of its 2019 World Backup Day Survey, which examines the data protection habits of users around the globe.

According to the results, 65.1% of the consumers surveyed said either they or a family member lost data as a result of an accidental deletion, hardware failure or software problem – a jump of 29.4% from last year.

Yet for the first time in its five-year history, Acronis’ World Backup Day Survey also showed that nearly all consumers (92.7%) are backing up their computers – an increase of more than 24.1% from last year and the single largest year-over-year increase.

“At first glance those two findings might seem completely incompatible – how can more data be lost if nearly everyone is backing up,” said James Slaby, director, Cyber Protection at Acronis.

“Yet there are hints at why these numbers look this way in the survey. People are using more devices and accessing their data from more places than ever before, which creates more opportunities to lose data.

“They might back up their laptop, but if they did not back up the smartphone they just left in a cab, they are still losing data.”

The survey targeted users in the US, UK, Australia, Germany, Poland, Spain, France, Japan, Singapore, Bulgaria, and Switzerland, polling consumers and, for the first time, business users.

The increasing number of CEOs, CIOs and other executives losing their jobs as a result of data breaches, online attacks, and IT missteps prompted Acronis to incorporate their data concerns and practices into the study.

The addition of business users revealed several differences in how and why consumers and corporations protect their digital assets.

Most of us are backing up (except for the 7% that aren’t)

The number of devices being used by consumers continues to climb, with 68.9% of households reporting they have three or more devices – including computers, smartphones, and tablets. That’s up 7.6% from 2018. 

Given the amount of data used and the stories about people losing their homes to fires and floods, as well as data losses due to high-profile ransomware attacks and security breaches, the increase in reported backups suggests consumers are at least trying to protect their data.

This year, only 7% of consumers said they never back up, while nearly a third of last year’s respondents (31.4%) did not back up their personal data.

They also report valuing their data more, with 69.9% reporting they would spend more than $50 to retrieve lost files, photos, videos, etc. Last year, fewer than 15% would have paid that much.

To protect their data, 62.7% of consumers keep it nearby, backing up to a local external hard drive (48.1%) or to a hard drive partition (14.6%).

Only 37.4% are using the cloud or a hybrid approach of cloud and local backups.

The lack of cloud adoption presents another apparent disconnect. Consumers overwhelmingly said that having access to data is the greatest benefit of creating backups, with a significant majority selecting “fast, easy access to backed up data, wherever I am” above all other features.

Yet just over a third of them back up to the cloud, which would give them the ability to retrieve files from anywhere.

The type of data that consumers are most concerned with losing seems to be contacts, passwords, and other personal information (45.8%) followed by media files like photos, videos, music, and games (38.1%). 

Fewer than half of consumers are aware of the online attacks that threaten their data, such as ransomware (46%), cryptomining malware (53%) and the social engineering attacks (52%) used to spread malware.

Education on these dangers seems to be slow, as the number of consumers who know about ransomware only increased 4% since last year. 

Companies aggressively protect data in the cloud

Since an hour of downtime costs an estimated $300,000 in lost business, corporate users clearly know the value of their data.

Since CEOs and C-level executives are being held more accountable for their data protection and security postures in the wake of a rash of high-profile incidents, leadership is taking a more active interest.

That helps explain why the business users who responded to Acronis’ World Backup Day Survey are already prepared to protect their files, apps, and systems – with a significant majority citing safety and security of their data as the benefits that are most important to them, ranking them first and second, respectively.

The 2019 survey is the first-time companies were included in the annual poll, and the responses came from businesses of all sizes – including 32.7% small businesses with under 100 employees, 41.0% medium businesses with between 101 and 999 employees, and 26.3% large enterprises employing 1,000 people or more.

Regardless of the company size, the majority make protecting their data a priority by backing up their company data monthly (35.1%), weekly (24.8%) or daily (25.9%).

As a result, 68.7% said they did not suffer a data loss event during the past year that resulted in downtime.

These companies were also clearly aware of the latest risks to their data, which is why they reported being either concerned or highly concerned about ransomware (60.6%), cryptojacking (60.1%), and social engineering attacks (61.0%)

In practice, businesses of all sizes rely on cloud backups, with 48.3% using the cloud exclusively and 26.8 % using a combination of local and cloud backup.

In terms of security (“data protected against online threats and cybercriminals”), the cloud provides a buffer that such malware attacks have difficulty to breach.

Cyber protection recommendations for World Backup Day

Whether you are concerned about personal files or securing your company’s business continuity, Acronis has four simple recommendations to help protect your data:

  • Always create backups of important data. Keep copies of the backup both locally (so it is available for fast, frequent recoveries) and in the cloud (to guarantee you have everything if a fire, flood, or disaster hits your facilities). 
  • Ensure your operating system and software are current. Relying on an outdated OS or app means it lacks the bug fixes and security patches that help block cybercriminals from gaining access to your systems.
  • Beware suspicious email, links, and attachments. Most virus and ransomware infections are the result of social engineering techniques that trick unsuspecting individuals into opening infected email attachments or clicking on links to websites that host malware.
  • Install anti-virus software and enable automatic updates so your system is protected against common, well-known malware strains. Windows users should confirm that their Windows Defender is turned on and up-to-date. 


Find out more about how you can protect your data here.

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