Common Threat to Data Loss: Power Failure

By VaultTek | May 9, 2024

In the age of digital dominance, where data reigns supreme, businesses and organizations face a multitude of threats to their precious information. And while threats like ransomware, malware, hardware failures, and human error receive more media attention, one of the six most common threats to data security is power loss. Power loss stands as one of the most insidious foes, capable of wreaking havoc on data integrity in various ways. From prolonged outages to sudden surges and even the wrath of lightning strikes, the risks posed by power instability are ever-present.

Common Types of Power Loss that Impact Data Security

Power outages can hurt productivity, especially if critical data isn’t backed up in multiple places. Without backups, any power disruption can cause lost files, delay projects, and increase recovery time and costs. The three most common types of power loss are:

  1. Prolonged Power Outages: These are perhaps the most straightforward form of power loss. When electricity supply is disrupted for an extended period, systems reliant on continuous power suffer, leading to potential data loss.
  2. Power Surges: Sudden spikes in voltage can overwhelm electronic devices, damaging components crucial for data storage and transmission. Even transient surges can inflict irreversible harm. Work that isn’t saved regularly is especially vulnerable to unexpected power surges because it’s often held in temporary memory, such as RAM, which gets wiped out during a power outage.
  3. Lightning Strikes: Nature’s fury knows no bounds. Lightning strikes not only pose a direct threat to physical infrastructure but also induce power surges that can obliterate sensitive equipment, leading to catastrophic data loss.

Statistics on Data Loss Due to Power Loss

  1. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report, power outages represented 10% of the root causes of data breaches, with an average cost of $217 per compromised record.
  2. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that power outages cost the U.S. economy between $18 billion and $33 billion annually, with businesses bearing a significant portion of this financial burden.
  3. A study by Eaton Corporation found that 37% of businesses experience a power outage at least once a month, highlighting the pervasive nature of the threat.
  4. The National Fire Protection Association reports that electrical malfunctions, including those resulting from power loss, are the leading cause of non-residential fires in the United States.
  5. The Business Continuity Institute’s Horizon Scan Report 2021 ranks power outages as the second most concerning threat to organizational resilience, underscoring its prominence in the risk landscape.

Recent News Story: Sensitive Data Exposure Due to Power Loss

In a recent incident that made headlines, Cloudflare, one of the biggest networks on the internet used as the backbone for many web applications, security services, and online performance, suffered a power failure at its provider’s data center in Portland. A number of services – including Cloudflare’s main control panel – were brought offline. A subsequent report from the company said one of two Portland General Electric (PGE) power feeds into the facility failed after unplanned maintenance. UPS backup power didn’t last as long as planned, and the data center owner wasn’t able to get the site’s generators started in time.

The outage lasted for several hours, disrupting essential services and transaction processing. As a result, customers’ websites, website security, and more were impacted, leading to widespread frustration and loss of trust.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Data Loss Due to Power Loss

  1. Implement Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) Systems: Deploying UPS units can provide a buffer against power interruptions by supplying backup power during outages and regulating voltage fluctuations.
  2. Invest in Surge Protection Devices (SPDs): Installing SPDs at key points in the electrical infrastructure can safeguard against voltage spikes, shielding sensitive equipment from harm.
  3. Implement Redundant Power Sources: Redundancy is key to resilience. By diversifying power sources and distribution paths, organizations can minimize the impact of outages and surges.
  4. Regular Maintenance and Testing: Proactive maintenance of electrical systems and regular testing of backup mechanisms, including surge protection devices (SPD) and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are essential to ensure their reliability when needed most. The lifespan of a SPD and UPS is typically three to five years, so periodic replacement is necessary to maintain protection.
  5. Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning: Embrace a comprehensive backup strategy, coupled with robust disaster recovery plans to minimize downtime and data loss in the event of a power-related incident.

The best practice 3-2-1 backup method of data protection multiplies the number of backups you keep and expands the number of locations where your digital record backups are stored. The rule states that you should have:

  • 3 – At least three copies of your data
  • 2 – Two of the backups should be stored on different types of media
  • 1 – And at least one backup should be stored offsite or in the cloud

When it comes to data storage there is an oft-quoted adage that “Any data not stored in at least three distinct locations ought to be considered temporary.”  Though the origin of the sentiment isn’t known, the spirit of it is the same premise as the 3-2-1 backup rule’s objective to have redundant backups in multiple places. If any one backup fails or is compromised, your chances of recovery are greater.

Backup and Recovery Solutions for When Power Failures Occur

Maintaining strong backup and recovery solutions is essential in protecting valuable data from power failures. Regularly replicating your data to offsite locations ensures that you won’t lose everything in case of an outage, attack, or mistake.

This means choosing the right backup solution for you and testing it regularly to ensure quick data restoration. It’s also crucial to have a solid plan in place for disaster recovery. Building a proactive backup strategy sometimes requires adjustments to fit the needs of your organization and the records you want to protect. Strategic suggestions for a successful plan include:

  • Different Devices: If copies are kept on the same system or hardware device and there is damage or worse, both copies are at risk of data loss. For increased digital records protection, keep backup copies on separate devices that are not connected through a shared network.
  • Ease of Use: Data backup should be simple, secure, and efficient.
  • Offline Copy: One copy of your data backup should be secured offline as a protective measure against ransomware or other malware events.
  • Off-site/Geographic Locations: Should a disaster impact your on-site location or region, backups stored within or near the same locality increases the risk of all sets of digital records being compromised. Utilizing diverse geographic locations for off-site backups mitigates locality risks and provides even more layers of protection.
  • Proactive Planning: Having a crisis response plan in place empowers you to act decisively and recover quicker.
  • Security: Security should be embedded into your backup process, helping to ensure protection from attackers at every stage.
  • Speed to Recovery: To increase your data protection further, have an onsite backup system as your first layer of records protection and the quickest data recovery when needed.

Proactive Data Protection Against Common Threats for Faster Recovery

It’s not if a disaster may strike, it’s when. Crippling outages and devastating surges, the consequences of power instability can be just as dire as cyber threats, natural threats, data corruption, hardware malfunctions, improper storage, human error, and more. Things you didn’t even know could happen, occur every day.

By investing in a resilient data protection solution, adopting best practices, and remaining vigilant, businesses can navigate the turbulent waters of power failure with confidence, ensuring the safety and integrity of their most valuable asset—data.

By utilizing a data protection solution that combines the benefits of secure automated processes, redundant data storage and proactive daily monitoring services, the risk of data loss due to a power-related event can be significantly reduced.

At VaultTek, our vault-tight data protection solution is founded on the principles of the 3-2-1 backup rule. We provide a triple-redundant backup system with three layers of defense: one on-site backup utilizing our Tekmate, a purpose-built backup appliance configured for your location and two additional off-site backups saved at separate and uniquely geographic U.S.-based data centers.

Our proven data protection services combined with our personalized and accessible support empower you with confidence that your data is secure and ready when you need it.