65.1 percent of consumers or their family member lost data as a result of an accidental deletion, hardware failure or software problem – a jump of 29.4 percentage points from last year.
Yet for the first time in its four-year history nearly all consumers (92.7 percent) are backing up their computers – an increase of more than 24.1 percent from last year and the single largest year-over-year increase, as shown in the Acronis’ 2019 World Backup Day Survey.
“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 didn’t back up the smartphone they just forgot in a cab, they’re still losing data.”
The Acronis survey targeted users in the U.S., U.K., 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.
Only 7% of consumers don’t even try to protect their data
The number of devices being used by consumers continues to climb, with 68.9 percent of households reporting they have three or more devices – including computers, smartphones, and tablets. That’s up 7.6 percent 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 percent of consumers said they never back up, while nearly a third of last year’s respondents (31.4 percent) did not back up their personal data.
They also report valuing their data more, with 69.9 percent reporting they would spend more than $50 to retrieve lost files, photos, videos, etc. Last year, fewer than 15 percent would have paid that much.
To protect their data, 62.7 percent of consumers keep it nearby, backing up to a local external hard drive (48.1 percent) or to a hard drive partition (14.6 percent). Only 37.4 percent 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 consumers are most concerned with losing seems to be contacts, passwords, and other personal information (45.8 percent), followed by media files like photos, videos, music, and games (38.1 percent).
Fewer than half of consumers are aware of the online attacks that threaten their data, such as ransomware (46 percent), cryptomining malware (53 percent) and the social engineering attacks (52 percent) used to spread malware. Education on these dangers seems to be slow, as the number of consumers who know about ransomware only increased 4 percent 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. And 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 percent small businesses with under 100 employees, 41.0 percent medium businesses with between 101 and 999 employees, and 26.3 percent 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 percent), weekly (24.8 percent), or daily (25.9 percent). As a result, 68.7 percent 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 percent), cryptojacking (60.1 percent), and social engineering attacks (61.0 percent).
In practice, businesses of all sizes rely on cloud backups, with 48.3 percent using the cloud exclusively and 26.8 percent using a combination of local and cloud backup.
Given their data protection concerns of safety and security, their reliance on the cloud is understandable. That’s because for safety (“reliable backups so data always available for recovery”), an offsite cloud backup ensures their data survives even if a fire, flood or natural disaster destroys their facilities.
In terms of security (“data protected against online threats and cybercriminals”), the cloud provides a buffer that such malware attacks have difficulty breaching.
Cyber protection recommendations
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’s 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 of 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 user should confirm that their Windows Defender is turned on and up-to-date.