World Backup Day 2023: Advice from Industry Experts

Every year, on March 31st, World Backup Day serves as a reminder of the importance of routine backups for both individuals and organisations.

As Neil Jones, Director of Cybersecurity Evangelism at Egnyte, explains, “Data backups have become mission-critical as organisations struggle to manage the vast amounts of data they generate in today’s hybrid work environment while navigating rising cyberattack volume and rapidly-evolving data privacy regulations.”

Although backups are such a necessity, research has shown that 21% of people have never made one. This surprising figure demonstrates the need to raise awareness for better backup strategies.

Backup, backup and backup again

Now more than ever, organisations need to prioritise backing up the data they hold. Gregg Mearing, Chief Technology Officer at Node4, emphasises this necessity, stating: “as our reliance on technology continues to grow, so too does the need to protect our digital assets. That’s why World Backup Day is such an important reminder of the crucial role that backups play in safeguarding data. Having reliable backups means you can ensure that even in the event of a disaster or cyberattack, you’ll be able to recover valuable information and resume business as usual.”

Hugh Scantlebury, CEO and Founder of Aqilla, reaffirms the importance of keeping a backup of vital data, declaring, “losing data has profound financial and reputational consequences for businesses and, as it is no longer a question of ‘if’ you will be hit with a cyber attack but ‘when’, every organisation should have a strong, tried and tested backup strategy.” He continues, “We’d recommend opting for continuous backup wherever possible so that, should the worst happen, there’s less chance of data being permanently lost. Always take a backup of your backup, of your backup!”

However, if you have neglected backups in the past, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Node4’s Mearing advises that you should start with tried and true methods, “If you don’t have a good strategy in place a good place to start is to follow industry best practices around the 3-2-1 rule – 3 copies of your data, 2 media types and 1 offsite – but to drive even more reassurance the 3-2-1-1-0 rule adding in 1 copy of that data on immutable or air-gapped storage, and having 0 backup check failures.”

Four ways to balance backups effectively

Unfortunately, many organisations don’t appreciate the importance of having a backup until they desperately need one. But, as we all know, hindsight is a wonderful thing but foresight is better.

For effective backup and data strategies, Roman Pavlyuk, VP of Digital Strategy at Intellias, suggests organisations should consider the following:

  • Number one, “regular validation checks should be conducted to ensure data is restorable, readable and available within a set time limit.”
  •  Secondly, “under GDPR, when customers or employees leave an organisation, all their data, including backups, must be deleted. To ensure compliance, businesses must have flexible and controllable systems that can automate data removal without the risk of corruption.” 
  • Moreover, “backups should not only be stored on local servers. Organisations should also backup data in the cloud and ensure they have backups in multiple locations to minimise the risk of data loss. Furthermore, each data storage location runs its own risks so businesses should have multiple backups in each location.”
  • And finally, he recommends data encryption, “by encrypting the data, businesses can ensure that their data remains protected even if it falls into the hands of an intruder.”

Backing up in the cloud

In the last few years, there has been a noticeable shift in the way organisations store their data. As Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK, highlights, “Now, it’s all about the cloud. In fact, recent industry research found that the majority (66%) of respondents suspect that the industry will see the end of on-premises infrastructure over the next two years.”

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With this move to the cloud, organisations must alter how they protect their assets. Storrar states that “more emphasis needs to be placed on protecting mission critical data wherever it is located and ensuring business continuity. Thankfully, modern cloud backup solutions have the benefit of being suitable for businesses of any size. They allow for data backup from any server or device, anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud backup solutions are easy to manage, and their providers offer reliable, hands-on customer support.”

However, he warns, “not every cloud backup solution is created equal. Organisations need to ensure that they are choosing a trusted cloud hosting provider that offers comprehensive expertise, 24/7 support and robust disaster recovery solutions.”

Backups are only the start when it comes to cybersecurity

The cyber security landscape continues to change, with cyber attacks on the rise. In response, data protection strategies have had to evolve to match the new risks they face.

As Jason Gerrard, Director of International Systems Engineering at Commvault, outlines, “Data protection has changed significantly over the past couple of years. This is in direct correlation with the growing sophistication of cybercriminals – previously, they would typically gain access to an organisation’s data and encrypt it so that employees could no longer understand it and it was of no business use. That is why making sure you have a secure copy of that data is so important. Organisations would have a spare dataset which they could restore and business would continue as normal. However, cybercriminals have recently changed tack and they are increasingly moving from encrypting the data to threatening to publish it.”

He continues, “as a result, organisations are having to change their approach to data protection. It is no longer enough to just backup your data, you need to stop cybercriminals from accessing your systems in the first place. An early detection system, such as cyber deception, will put organisations one step ahead of the attacker.”

Egnyte’s Jones agrees that organisations need to look further than simple backups to ensure their data is safe. “The most significant evolution I’ve seen over the past several years is that most companies can no longer view data backup strategy monolithically. Rather, they need to balance a mature Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) program with lighter, more nimble backup approaches such as snapshot recovery. Here’s why: In the event of a significant, just-in-time cyber-incident like a ransomware attack, users cannot remain productive without immediate access to their data, and even minutes or hours of data interruption can have a major impact on productivity.”

Make a backup this World Backup Day!

World Backup Day showcases why data protection should be front of mind for all organisations on a daily basis. So why not use today as an opportunity to check your backup strategy, or even make your first backup? As Node4’s Mearing declares “Whether you’re a small business owner or an individual user, taking the time to back up your data is an investment in your digital security and peace of mind.”

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