Backup one minute: Is your data secure?

Since 2011, World Backup Day has acted as a poignant reminder for people to prepare for the unexpected by backing up their important files. Every year we see horror stories about lost revenue and lost reputation because a backup hasn’t been there when needed.

In today’s uncertain and digitally-reliant workplace, it is even more crucial that workplaces take backup seriously. Indeed, with bad actors taking advantage of the rapid move to widespread remote working, 2020 was described as a “record-setting year” for cybercrime. Research shows a 62% spike in global ransomware attacks and a 74% increase in previously undetected malware variants. With the threat landscape growing exponentially, as has the need for secure backup and disaster recovery.

This World Backup Day, Cyber Protection Magazine spoke to five technology experts to learn more about why effective backup is key to a successful disaster recovery plan.

Preparation is key

Data is the livelihood of organisations – whether that’s a hospital, law firm or a bank – and without having instant access to it can cause unplanned downtime that can affect operations. Steve Cochran, Chief Technology Officer at ConnectWise explains that hardware failure, cyber attacks such as ransomware or even a natural disaster can cause serious problems for businesses, because the risks associated with data loss can be severe.

“It is absolutely essential to ensure organisations of all sizes, including SMBs, have a backup and disaster recovery (DR) plan in place. This way organisations can resume normal business operations as quickly as possible while minimising the impact or damage associated with such an event. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” The same can be said for not having a backup and DR plan at the ready.”

He continues: “If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that the pandemic hasn’t stopped the world turning, but it has opened cybercriminals up to finding more of those vulnerabilities and launching unprecedented attacks on all types of organisations to cause havoc.”

“We’ve seen some of the most sophisticated global cyber-attacks uncovered over the last year and several high-profile data breaches have already hit the headlines in 2021,” agrees Andy Collins, Head of Security at Node4.

“Many of these were the result of social engineering attacks, highlighting how crucial the human element is to cyber security and how simple decision making can be manipulated to expose vulnerabilities in an otherwise secure corporate network. However, human vulnerabilities in security posture go far deeper than phishing attacks. The cognitive bias of the human brain can lead to a false sense of security around prevention strategies and a lack of focus on backup and recovery. From overconfidence bias to loss aversion, humans are innately more likely to focus on avoiding negative outcomes – prioritising prevention over backup and recovery provision. These solutions provide continuity in the case of what is fast becoming an inevitability for most organisations – they should be seen as essential components of any IT security plan but are often overlooked.

“With lean security teams under more pressure than ever, many organisations will benefit from working with a managed services provider that can provide technical support and advice on a backup and recovery plan that matches the specific risks facing their business.”

Partner up in the cloud

One benefit of modern cloud backup solutions is that they are suitable for businesses of any size, enabling data backup from any server or device, anywhere with an internet connection.

Terry Storrar, Managing Director at Leaseweb UK, said: “Cloud backup solutions are easy to manage, and their providers offer reliable, hands-on customer support.

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“At Leaseweb for example, we take every necessary precaution to ensure that our customers’ data is available around the clock. This includes the availability of emergency backup services, such as batteries and generators, in case of power outages. Agreements are also in place with energy suppliers for redundant energy connections that enter the data centre from different locations, redundant internet connections, and an agreement with local authorities for evacuation work to reduce possible damage to any important cables. In the event of a disaster, it’s important to keep in mind that a proactive plan for backing up data to ensure business continuity always has multiple moving parts to consider; working with the right providers and products can help you rest easy at night.”

If your organisation is transitioning workloads to public cloud, you may well have concerns around losing control of your data. “These aren’t unfounded,” adds Tom Cotton, Agile Workspace Technical Director at Six Degrees. “SaaS providers take backups to ensure the integrity of their services, but they will not take responsibility for data loss that results from accidental deletion, malware or operational errors. This year’s World Backup Day is an opportunity for organisations to consider how they protect data stored in public cloud environments. I recommend partnering with a trusted data protection provider to hand control of your mission-critical data back to your organisation.”

Data protection is no joke

“While World Backup Day strikes a slightly humorous tone – falling the day before April Fool’s Day – the consequences of data loss are anything but,” concludes Gil Levonai, CMO and SVP Product at Zerto.

“Data has grown exponentially over the last decade, there is zero tolerance for data loss, and yet backup technology has evolved very little. Traditional backup relies on periodic snapshots, often on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis, which places a massive burden on production environments and often forces IT teams to run these at night to avoid disruption. This has left them struggling to meet or exceed the two primary metrics associated with backup: recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs).

“Now, as businesses focus on providing an ‘always-on’ service to their customers, and the constant increase of cyber threats, organisations are thinking about how they can protect their data continuously, with every change, update or new piece of data protected and available in real time. Continuous data protection (CDP) is enabling this change, saving data in intervals of seconds – rather than days or months – and giving IT teams the granularity to quickly rewind operations to just seconds before disruption occurred. Completely flexible, CDP enables an IT team to quickly recover anything, from a single file or virtual machine right up to an entire site. As more organisations join the CDP backup revolution, data loss may one day become as harmless as an April Fool’s joke. Until then, it remains a real and present danger.”

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