Human error accounts for three-quarters of incidents where sensitive data is lost, new research has revealed.
A report from the IT Policy Compliance Group says a fifth of organisations are hit by 22 or more sensitive data losses a year, with customer, financial, corporate, employee and IT security data going missing because it is stolen, leaked or destroyed.
It reveals that user error is responsible for half of all sensitive data losses, with policy violations – either deliberate or accidental- accounting for another 25%.
The main channels through which data is lost - in order of risk - are PCs, laptops and mobile devices, email, instant messaging, applications and databases.
The report also notes that businesses are seeing an 8% loss of revenue and a similar loss of customers in the wake of publicly reported data breaches, while notifying customers and restoring data costs another £50 per customer record.
Jim Hurley, managing director of the IT Policy Compliance Group, said: "Failing to protect IT security and regulatory audit data is like a bank giving away the combination to the vault. Instead of securities and cash, these firms are putting sensitive data, customers, revenues and business futures entirely at risk."
The report suggests that organisation should identify the most sensitive business data, train staff and implement technology to mitigate user errors, policy violations, and internet attacks.
It also recommends monitoring controls and procedures to ensure compliance and increasing the frequency of audits.