Data Loss: Costing You More Than You Think

Yadin Porter de León

According to Gartner, one laptop is stolen every 53 seconds in the U.S. The Ponemon Institute calculates that approximately 9.44% of corporate laptops are also lost or damaged every year. These losses not only cause frustration, headache, and downtime as a result of data loss, but cost the company money. Identifying all the areas of impact that data loss has on a company enables a member of the IT team or the CIO to make the business case for why a solution is needed to address these issues.

Here’s a look at each area of impact on an organization:

Loss of Valuable IP

28% of an organization’s data exists exclusively on laptops and mobile devices carried by mobile worker (Gartner), but only 35% of these devices backed up (ESG). The contents of a lost laptop or mobile device could be as important as research data, customer information, or financial figures. If this data resides exclusively on the device and isn’t backed up, it can impact the company’s competitive advantage due to the value of the IP and original work that is lost. Strategic resources must be deployed to address the loss, affecting deadlines and potentially incurring regulatory consequences.

Exposure of Confidential Data

When data is lost as a result of device being stolen or misplaced, that data is at risk of leakage and breach. If a device holds sensitive information such as client healthcare data or client financial records, the legal fees, fines, or other collateral damage alone caused by such an incident could result in millions of dollars that the company would have to pay out. Proof in point: the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $7.2 million. For certain regulated industries, companies are required to notify customers, patients, or clients that a lost device contains sensitive data, even if that data is not breached.

Disruption of Workday and Business Activity

Most IT professionals will tell you that, when it comes to hard drive failure, it’s not a matter of if but when a hard drive will cease to function. Waiting for the data to be recovered from a failure could take days, while the employee is unproductive and IT is required to put hours into recovering the data. Even if a provisional device is provided to the employee while their machine is being worked on, they will only be able to utilize this device to keep up with current email issues or work off of their network share, unless they have full access to backed-up data.

Employee Time Spent Reconfiguring Personal Settings

When a user finally receives a new device, they first need to reconfigure their personal settings such as printers, network drives, email signatures and so on. This process could take hours, during this time a user isn't working and creating value for the company. There are typically a few trips to the help desk to resolve the issues that they can’t figure out, adding time to this process while consuming IT resources.

So, What’s the Final Bill?

The Ponemon Institute calculates that every lost laptop costs an organization approximately $49,000, while Gartner estimates that the cost of an unrecovered PDA or mobile phone is at least $2,500 per unit. These costs are based purely on the value of the data on the device - the loss of intellectual property and impact of potentially compromised proprietary data. Once you add in the cost of employee downtime, the economic impact that data loss has on an organization rises even further. Furthermore, device failure and loss leads to a drain on IT resources, with large organizations typically outsourcing data loss related support functions, resulting in additional costs that can be saved with the right solutions in place.

Next Steps: Use This Knowledge To Avoid the High Costs of Data Loss

Once an IT department fully understands the hidden costs of data loss, knowing what to look for in a data protection solution for laptops and mobile devices is straight-forward.