Veritas Technologies, the global leader in enterprise data protection, announced new research findings highlighting the harm that workplace blame cultures are doing to cloud adoption success. According to Veritas, businesses are losing critical data, such as customer orders and financial data, because office workers are too afraid or 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 Andy Ng, Vice President and Managing Director for Asia South and Pacific Region at Veritas Technologies. “Leaders need to motivate employees to come forward as soon as possible so that IT teams can respond quickly to take remedial action, given that there’s often a short window to minimise the impact of deleting or corrupting the cloud-based data. It is clear from this research that shaming and punishment are not ideal ways to do that.”
Chief among the findings is that over half (57%) of office workers in Singapore have accidentally deleted files hosted in the cloud—such as business documents, presentations and spreadsheets—and as many as 14% do so multiple times per week. The additional findings are:
Employees are too embarrassed, scared to admit mistakes
According to the findings, 29% of employees here lied to cover up the fact that they had accidentally deleted data from shared cloud drives. And, while 44% said no one noticed their error, 17% said the data was no longer recoverable when the accidents were discovered.
When asked why they had failed to own up to their errors, 26% of respondents said that they kept quiet because they were ashamed, 16% 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 31% of respondents said they would immediately confess mistakes that introduced ransomware into their organisations. Another 25% said they would either do nothing or pretend it had not happened, and 29% said they would omit their own guilt as they report the incident.
“In today’s hybrid work environment, employees are increasingly reliant on cloud-based technologies to help them get their tasks done,” Ng added. “Today, 38% of office workers in Singapore store data in cloud folders assigned to them, 29% in folders that sync to the cloud and 29% in cloud folders that they share with their teams. Unfortunately, with more people 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 is much harder to limit its impact.”
The cloud gives office workers false confidence
The study also found that employees are unsure how much assistance the cloud companies hosting their files will provide in the event that their data is lost. In fact, nearly all Singapore employees polled (92%) believed their cloud provider would be able to restore their files for them, whether from a cloud copy, their 'deleted items' folder, or a backup, and 9% believed their 'deleted items' would be available in the cloud for at least a year after the data was lost.
“Almost half (44%) of office workers here think data in the cloud is safer from ransomware because they assume their cloud providers are protecting it from malware they might accidentally introduce,” Ng said. “This is a misconception that will continue to put businesses at risk until it is 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. Storing data in the cloud does not automatically make it safe, it still requires strong data protection.”
Data loss causes employees to snap
With today’s culture of shame, data loss impacts employee wellbeing—18% of office workers report profanity as they lost data, 13% have lashed out and broken something, and 14% have been reduced to tears. 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 is no surprise that office workers are greatly distressed when they find their files are lost forever,” Ng concluded. “Many of them believe it is 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, 50% of respondents from Singapore said they had accidentally deleted a file in the cloud and were never able to get it back. It is 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 does not help – deploying a comprehensive backup and protection strategy in the cloud however, does.”