News Release

New Research Shows Human Error, Embarrassment and Ransomware Combine to Undermine the Benefits of Cloud Adoption

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – November 16, 2021 – Veritas Technologies, the global leader in enterprise data protection, today announced the findings of new research highlighting the damage that workplace blame cultures are having on the success of cloud adoption. Veritas found that businesses are losing critical data, such as customer orders and financial data, because office workers are too scared or too embarrassed to report data loss or ransomware issues when using cloud applications, such as Microsoft Office 365.

“Businesses need to help, not blame, employees when data is lost or encrypted by hackers as a result of employee action,” said Simon Jelley, general manager of SaaS protection at Veritas. “There’s often a short window where businesses can act to minimize the impact of deleting or corrupting the cloud-based data office workers use. Leaders need to motivate employees to come forward as soon as possible so IT teams can act fast to take remedial action. It’s clear from this research that shaming and punishment are not ideal ways to do that.”

Chief among the findings is that more than half (56%) of office workers have accidentally deleted files hosted in the cloud—such as business documents, presentations and spreadsheets—and as many as 20% do so multiple times per week. The additional findings are:

Employees are too embarrassed, scared to admit mistakes

The research revealed that 35% of employees lied to cover up the fact they had accidentally deleted data they stored in shared cloud drives. And while 43% said no one noticed their error, in the cases where the accidents were discovered, 20% of respondents reported the data was no longer recoverable.

When asked why they had failed to own up to their errors, 30% of respondents said that they kept quiet because they were ashamed, 18% because they were frightened of the consequences and 5% because they have been in trouble with their IT departments before.

Employees are even less forthcoming with ransomware incidents. Just 30% of respondents said they would immediately confess mistakes that introduced ransomware into their organizations. Another 35% said they would either do nothing or pretend it hadn’t happened, and 24% said they would omit their own guilt as they report the incident.

“Employees are increasingly reliant on cloud-based technologies to help them get their work done,” Jelley added. “Today, 38% of office workers store data in cloud folders assigned to them, 25% in folders that sync to the cloud and 19% in cloud folders that they share with their teams. Unfortunately, the more people there are accessing cloud drives, the more opportunities there are for individuals to avoid suspicion or pass the blame. However, without knowing the full details of who caused a ransomware attack, plus how and when, it’s much harder to limit its impact.”

The cloud gives office workers false confidence

The research also highlighted that employees do not have a clear understanding of how much help the cloud companies hosting their files would be in the event that their data is lost. In fact, nearly all employees (92%) thought their cloud provider would be able to restore their files for them, either from a cloud copy, a “deleted items” folder or a backup. 15% thought their “deleted items” would be available to them in the cloud for at least a year after the data is lost.

“Almost half (47%) of office workers think data in the cloud is safer from ransomware because they assume their cloud providers are protecting it from malware they might accidentally introduce,” Jelley said. “This is a fundamentally incorrect assumption that 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 guarantee of resiliency of their service, they do not provide guarantees that a customer, using their service, will have their data protected. In fact, many go as far as to have shared-responsibility models in their terms and conditions, which make it clear that the customer’s data is their responsibility to protect. Storing data in the cloud doesn’t automatically make it safe, it still needs strong data protection.”

Data loss causes employees to snap

With today’s culture of shame, data loss is impacting employee wellbeing—29% of office workers report using profanity as they lost data, 16% have been reduced to tears and 13% have lashed out and broken something. According to the research, losing work-related data or introducing ransomware are two of the most stressful experiences for office workers—more stressful than a first date, a job interview or sitting for an exam.

“It’s no wonder that office workers are being driven to tears, swearing and lying when they find their files are lost forever,” Jelley concluded. “It seems a huge number of them believe it’s going to be easy to get data back from the company providing their cloud service—in reality, that’s not their job. As a result, 52% 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’ responsibility to protect their own data, whether in the cloud or stored on their own devices. If they can get that right and make it easy for workers to restore lost files, then they can take the pressure off their employees. Blaming people doesn’t help—backing up your data however, does.”

This global research was conducted and the statistics compiled for Veritas by 3Gem, which interviewed 11,500 office workers in Australia, China, France, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK and US.

About Veritas
Veritas Technologies is the global leader in enterprise backup and data recovery solutions. Over 80,000 customers—including 87 percent of the Fortune Global 500—rely on us to abstract IT complexity and simplify data management. The Veritas Enterprise Data Services Platform automates the protection and orchestrates the recovery of data everywhere it lives, ensures 24/7 availability of business-critical applications, and provides enterprises with the insights they need to comply with evolving data regulations. With a reputation for reliability at scale and a deployment model to fit any need, the Veritas Enterprise Data Services Platform supports more than 800 different data sources, over 100 different operating systems, more than 1,400 storage targets, and more than 60 different cloud platforms. Learn more at Follow us on Twitter at @veritastechllc.

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