It’s likely that as a small business owner or entrepreneur, you look to other businesses for inspiration. You read their blogs, you follow the advice business owner peers give you…but this is all in a very positive sphere. Don’t forget that sometimes a business can give you a pretty good example of what not to do.

This is especially true when it comes to talking about data loss and security. Over the past few years, numerous big-name businesses have been revealed to have gone through data hacks or breaches, with some even losing access to massive amounts of data. If you want to look at what could happen if you don’t backup and secure your data, look no further than these four businesses who experienced big data disasters firsthand.

1. AMAG Pharmaceuticals

In 2015, Boston native AMAG Pharmaceuticals found themselves in a bit of a pickle. An HR folder didn’t sync correctly with Google Drive, causing thousands of files to suddenly disappear. Employees searched high and low to no avail — the data was completely gone.

The pharmaceutical company, held to stringent compliance and regulatory laws, caught a break when their own backup service restored their files for them. Without this saving grace, their compliance would have been in question, potentially causing the company massive problems. They were lucky enough to have a backup solution. The next company, however, wasn’t so lucky.

2. Microsoft / T-Mobile

The T-Mobile Sidekick was a pretty neat phone back in 2009. At the time it was the most popular phone with a QWERTY keyboard; a newer concept for the time period. Microsoft acquired T-Mobile’s original producer, Danger Inc., and along with it came all of the producer’s data centers. Danger Inc’s claim to fame was connecting phones to the Internet as a place to store data. At first glance, nothing about this situation could lead to data loss.

However, Danger Inc.’s data centers were not compatible and updated to run on current Microsoft technologies. This meant massive system failure for Microsoft, leading to over 800,000 Sidekick users losing their data including photos, contacts and calendar events for almost a week. Some users never got their data restored.

3. British Home Office

Another vintage data loss example, an employee at the British Home Office in 2008 thought it would be a good idea to place data on over 80,000 Welsh and English prisoners on a flashdrive. This included information like personal data about the prisoners and other priority offenders in the system.

As you may have guessed, the employee in question lost the USB stick, meaning the data for these prisoners was permanently gone. The British Home Office had to deal with the fallout of such an obvious blunder while regathering all of the prisoner data.

4. The Army National Guard

Fast-forwarding to July 2015, an employee of the Army National Guard began a data transfer from their secure center to a non-accredited center. By chance, the data breach led to the exposure of other 850,000 current and former National Guard member’s data — including home addresses and social security numbers.

While no data was necessarily lost, the potential was there. Regardless, the employee in question didn’t consider data security when sending and receiving data.

One of the biggest takeaways here comes from the older examples of data loss. In the past, employees and businesses could blame limited technology on their data breaches — you don’t have this excuse anymore. There are resources available to you for backing up your data and keeping it safe…are you utilizing them?

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