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3 Common Types of Data Loss -- and How to Prevent Them Careless mistakes that can cause an entire organization to go offline are becoming more and more inevitable.

By Laura Sankey

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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There is no shortage of evidence that security should be one of IT's biggest priorities, especially when an organization is competing in the digital world. Whether it's a simple user error, rogue employee or a global security threat, these unsavory security incidents may cause your workplace productivity to come to a screeching halt. No one wants to admit to making a careless mistake that can cause an entire organization to go offline, but lately, these scenarios are becoming more and more inevitable.

Related: Your Startup Should Think About Security From the Beginning

So, how do you prepare yourself for one of these "uh oh" moments? The first step is understanding what can happen, which better prepares you for what's to come next and how to resolve it. Let's take a look at three realistic ways you can lose your data, and how to prevent them from happening:

Scenario 1: Your colleague spills coffee all over his laptop moments before a big presentation.

One of the simplest mistakes (and almost a rite of passage) we can make is getting clumsy with our coffee at work. A coffee (or any beverage) spill can cause immediate damage to your laptop, resulting in the loss of any unsaved files. Add a high-pressure situation, like the moments before a presentation, and the uncertainty of gaining back your files can cause sheer panic, which leads to insecure ways of trying to get back your data.

With user error, being able to integrate files across multiple devices and operating systems (like iOS and Android) is key. That way, when one computer, tablet or phone goes down, another can quickly take its place. Adding in real-time backup capabilities will further eliminate the stress of losing a critical file -- you'll always have access to the latest data stored on your device without having an extensive search and rescue to get it back.

Related: Security Actions for the C-Suite: Act Now to Avoid Trouble Later

Scenario 2: An employee unwittingly triggers a ransomware attack.

With regularly occurring outbreaks like WannaCry ransomware and the most recent Petya data wiper virus, everyone from large enterprises to small businesses, and even individual users, should be worried about the frequency and persistence of these attacks. And more often than not, these ransomware threats come in the form of a phishing email, so one click can lead to both a widespread shut down of your business, and other businesses as well. Because ransomware is growing (and isn't going away anytime soon), everyone's data is up for grabs. And, like the name implies, there's a ransom attached to these attacks, so most businesses are forced to pay up in the hopes that they'll get their data back. And while all of this is happening, businesses are experiencing downtime, which means they're potentially losing revenue and customers by the minute.

Related: 4 Reasons You Need Developers With Cybersecurity Skills in All Tech Teams

So, how do you prepare yourself for a battle with these digital data thieves? Combined with educating your employees on how to spot these emails, your best line of defense is being able to perform a mass rollback of files and folders to the moment before the ransomware infection occurred, and making sure this data is available across various devices so you can resume business as usual. If you think you are invincible and that this won't happen to you, think again. As Murphy's Law goes, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and that couldn't be truer for ransomware.

Scenario 3: A soon-to-be ex-employee is about to take confidential company data on the way out the door.

An employee leaving the company poses a number of security threats, such as ensuring a full recovery of data from any company devices or eliminating access to passwords and information. And with almost half of all employees sharing log-ins with coworkers, it can be hard to know who has access to what kind of data. Much like the Waymo vs. Uber lawsuit, a former employee can inflict a lot of damage to a company, and share confidential data with a competitor that could potentially put you out of business. This also goes beyond just intellectual property, as a former employee could expose coworkers' financial data or private information and even alter documents from a remote location, leaving your company none the wiser.

Related: Cybersecurity Habits Across Generations (Infographic)

There are steps companies can take to mitigate these potential problems -- whether intentional or not -- posed by former employees and gain full control over access to private corporate information. For instance, standardizing and mandating a corporate solution (with a simple user interface) will prevent employees from storing corporate information on personal devices. And allowing IT administrators to manage users, devices, policies, files and sharing activities, including full access to end-user content, and adjust permissions at a granular level also gives you peace of mind during an employee's final days with the company.

In every scenario that may cause you to experience downtime, being able to back up your data is a necessity to keep your business running smoothly. Unexpected downtime is always stressful, but having the right protocols in place to grab files immediately and from any device, with the proper controls, are a few ways to significantly bolster security at work.

Secure and manage your critical business data, so you can avoid -- or recover from -- virtually any IT incident and ensure no data gets left behind.

Laura Sankey

Senior Director of Product Marketing at Intermedia

Laura Sankey is the senior director of product marketing at Intermedia.

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