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Human error hinders benefits of cloud adoption, finds Veritas

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According to a survey released by Veritas Technologies, office workers in the UAE are not always ready to recognize their faults when losing data from cloud-based programs like Microsoft Office 365, which they have been pressured to use in the wake of the COVID outbreak. Their organizations are losing critical company information, including client orders and financial data, due to accidents and ransomware attacks.

Johnny Karam, Managing Director & Vice President of International Emerging Region at Veritas Technologies, said: “There’s often a short window where businesses can act to minimize the impact of deleting or corrupting cloud-based data used by employees. Without knowing the full details of where a ransomware attack came from, plus how and when, it’s much harder to limit its impact. We recommend that businesses in the Middle East create a culture of openness, with less judgment around human error. This means motivating employees to come forward as soon as possible so IT teams can act fast to take remedial action and save mission-critical data.”

“Almost two-thirds (65%) of the office workers we surveyed in the UAE think data in the cloud is safer from ransomware because they assume their cloud providers are protecting it from malware they might accidentally introduce,” Karam said.

He added, “Unfortunately, this misconception will continue to put businesses at risk until it’s thoroughly debunked. The truth is that, as part of their standard service, most cloud providers only provide a guarantee of the resiliency of their service, they do not provide guarantees that a customer using their service will have their data protected. In fact, many cloud providers even include shared-responsibly models in their terms and conditions, making it clear that protecting the data is the customer’s responsibility. Storing data in the cloud doesn’t automatically make it safe, it still needs strong data protection.”

“A huge number of employees believe it’s going to be easy to get data back from their company’s cloud provider —in reality, that’s not their job. As a result, 59% of respondents to our survey said they’d accidentally deleted a file in the cloud and were never able to get it back. It’s every business’s responsibility to protect their own data, whether in the cloud or stored on their own devices. If they can get that right and offer regular guidance and training on restoring lost files, they can take the pressure off their employees. Blaming people doesn’t help—having a backup for your data, however, does.” Karam concluded.

According to Veritas’ recent research, seven out of ten (72%) UAE-based office workers have mistakenly destroyed shared data (such as Word documents, presentations, or spreadsheets), with as many as 24 percent accidentally deleting shared data numerous times per week. Its new research polled 11,500 office workers across nine countries, including 500 from the UAE.

UAE employees more likely to admit to mistakes than global counterparts

According to the study, UAE professionals are more eager to disclose their mistakes than their global colleagues, with 89 percent admitting to inadvertently deleting data from cloud applications like Office 365 or Google Docs, compared to 84 percent globally. Sixty-six percent of individuals who didn’t come forward said no one spotted their mistake, while nearly a fifth (19 percent) stated the data was lost for good in the situations where the errors were identified.

When it comes to ransomware, employees are even less cooperative. Only 18% of UAE respondents stated they would quickly notify their IT staff if they made a mistake that led to the spread of ransomware in their companies. Another 43% stated they would either do nothing or act as if nothing had happened.

Misconceptions exist around cloud data protection

The study also revealed that there are misunderstandings about how much assistance cloud companies hosting their files would provide if their data was destroyed. In reality, virtually all UAE respondents (96%) believed their cloud provider could restore their files for them, whether from a cloud copy, their ‘deleted items’ folder, or a backup.

Business information is being lost forever

According to the study, the average office worker in the UAE has lost 39 documents in the last year, demonstrating the scope of the problem affecting cloud applications. Furthermore, half of the employees (50 percent) claim they didn’t know who to tell or thought it vital to alert anybody when they lost data. And 21% said they have either forgotten or never seen their company’s policy on secure file storage.

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