4 Most Common Ways Data Is Lost in Office 365

Post Date: 08/13/2019
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Because data isn’t tangible, it can be easy to lose. In fact, there are many reasons data loss can occur, from simple end-user misclicks to more sinister network breaches. Businesses usually need to dip into their data repository to recover information when there’s a data loss event like:

  • Technical insights or glitches
  • Rogue IT admins
  • The accidental deletion of data
  • A cybersecurity breach

Technical Insights or Glitches

While glitches are becoming less common as technology evolves, they do still happen. The customized features of Office 365 offer a lot of benefits, but custom designs,
solutions, workflows, branding, and other modifications to user-facing sites introduce the
potential for technical faults and glitches. This means customization may need to be
rolled back once errors have been found.

Data loss by technical fault can also be caused by hardware and software failures,
firmware bugs, data corruption, and the loss of power. These issues can be
unexpected and unanticipated, seemingly occurring out of nowhere; thus, it follows that businesses are not well-prepared to recover from them.

To make matters worse, technical difficulties can impact more than just data. Depending
on the system affected, data loss can result in hours–in some cases, even days–of downtime. Disaster recovery plans are necessary to plan for redundant systems as well as redundant data if the worst should occur.

Rogue IT Administrators

IT staff are the gatekeepers to the data repository where data is stored. However, a
disgruntled IT manager could purposely delete or steal information at any time. The reason for this type of data loss can run the gambit from intentional corporate espionage to opportunistic individuals who sell corporate data for material gain.

Administrators have a great amount of power over company data and, while not
common practice, can download personal copies of data and delete the corporate files. When it comes to data management, businesses–unfortunately–need to consider all potential threats, both externally and internally.

Curious as to the most common ways organizations lose data? Check out this post: Click To Tweet

User Error/Accidental Deletion of Data

User error has long been one of the most common causes of data loss. Employees can easily delete data and conversations in SharePoint, Office 365 Groups, and Microsoft Teams, and even overwrite versions of existing data. That’s why it’s important to keep track of data and monitor future discovery requests. It happens to nearly everyone at some point.

Users can also be culprits when it comes to unintentional data leakage while
participating in shadow IT. While many apps and services are useful and do indeed help employees do their jobs better, these tools are not within the safe haven of the company network. That means outside services are unchecked and unmonitored. Users could unwittingly put sensitive company data at risk while simply trying to increase their own efficiency, creativity, or productivity.

Users have a habit of working around the solutions provided by IT, which means data
that would ordinarily be part of the corporate knowledge repositories (SharePoint sites, Office 365 Groups, newsfeeds, etc.) are now being stored in personal mailboxes and OneDrives.

Let’s not forget how easy it can be to lose this data as well; when an employee retires or leaves the organization, OneDrive and Exchange data can be wiped out by simple retention policies, often resulting in the loss of valuable information.


If user error is the most common culprit of data loss, cybercrime is the most frightening. Cybercriminals are generally:

  • Profit-seeking thieves
  • Adrenaline-seeking hackers
  • Strategy-seeking nation-states

Their attacks come in many forms as well. Targeted, personalized email scams (called
phishing) can fool end-users into clicking on a nefarious link or opening an infected
attachment. Many of these emails are now gateways to ransomware.

This is an excerpt from our Office 365 Backup Handbook. Want to learn more about potential threats to your data and how to protect against them? Download the full version here!

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As the former Content Marketing Specialist for AvePoint, Brent led the strategy and direction of all AvePoint's blog properties.

View all post by Brent Middleton

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