Comprehensive Listing of Information Loss

What is Information Loss?

  • Information loss in the context of preservation is all inclusive of many risks that range from access, interpretation, authenticity, security, systems, logical and physical migration, to disasters or human error.
  • Generally, digital preservation policies call out specific attention to access, authenticity, and technological obsolescence as the major causes of loss. This 'listing' attempts to be much more inclusive and specific of other causes of loss. Just losing the context of a set of data or the supporting metadata that provides interpretation reference information, chain of custody, or causes the inability to validate authenticity can be a loss event. 
  • With new storage technologies entering the market or with new security threats this is a constantly evolving list, requiring diligence on the part of digital preservation curators and practitioners.

Storage Practices

  • Can't Find it, Read it, Interpret it, Access it, Search it, Recover it, Interpret it
  • Disaster events
  • Migration events and practices
  • Poor Deletion practices
  • Low availability systems and data practices

Storage Media and Systems

  • Corruption, Damage, bit rot, print thru, noise, ECC failure, drive or media failure, etc.
  • Incompatible systems
  • Loss of data integrity
  • System failure or statistical events  
  • Loss of file system or object storage indexes, metadata, deduplication indexes,  or other controller-based errors
  • Flash memory data loss due to wear, aging, power, or statistical error recovery failures

Logical Format or Migration

  • Inability to Access, Read, Interpret, Validate, or Use information
  • Loss of forward migration of the application formats in use
  • Loss of the context of information and data
  • Format Transformations that cause damage, loss of context, or of embedded or associated information or metadata
  • Loss or damage to hyper-links to associated information
  • Inability to interpret information
  • Loss during logical migration events
  • Inadequate metadata retention and migration practices

- Encryption Practices

  • Loss of or loss of access to Encryption Keys
  • Inability to decrypt
  • Information theft from breaking weak hash codes or stealing keys

- Authenticity Loss

  • No longer have the 'original' records
  • Cannot identify the authentic version or record
  • Loss of 'chain of custody' to the original records
  • Loss of or lack of audit logs
  • Too many uncontrolled copies and versions
  • Failure to designate which versions are the official record

- Access Loss

  • Do not have access to the information or systems
  • Inability to access 3rd party sites or systems
  • Loss of logins/passwords

- External Service Providers

  • Out of business Repositories
  • Migration Loss or Storage Loss at a external service
  • Loss of service contract and access to data
  • Inability to recover information from the external service
  • Loss of access to information or services at an external service

Deletion Practices

  • Inadequate permanent-deletion practices, allowing information theft or discovery
  • Uncontrolled deletion removing valuable records

Security Practices

  • Information Theft
  • Damage or change from security intrusions
  • Virus Damage
  • Loss of encryption keys
  • Loss of access
  • Loss of access control
  • Disclosure of personally identifiable, confidential, or private information
  • Allowing employees to take information

Human Error

  • Deletion, overwrite, misplacing records, using the wrong version, failure to locate records, failure to include records
  • Failure to test recovery processes
  • Exposure of security and access information
  • Loosing systems and media
  • Transmitting confidential information in the clear

Operating Practices

  • Inadequate or inconsistently enforced organization policies and practices
  • Inadequate attention to retention and preservation policies
  • Intentional damage or loss
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