In its tenth year, World Backup Day recognises the vital need for businesses of all sizes to ensure best practice by backing up their data. As cyber attacks, including phishing, have become more frequent during the pandemic, having copies of all assets in place within the infrastructure is more important than ever for business recovery.
“Since 2011, World Backup Day has acted as a poignant reminder for people to prepare for the unexpected by backing up their important files,” said Gil Levonai, senior vice-president, product at Zerto.
“Data loss can happen in a variety of ways and while losing family photographs or important receipts can be extremely irritating, for businesses, the financial, reputational and legal damage associated with data loss can be catastrophic.
“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.”
With this in mind, we take a look at what businesses should keep in mind when it comes to backing up their data.
Distinguish ‘backup’ from ‘storage’
With ‘backup’ and ‘storage’ being so closely intertwined when it comes to data protection, there can be a danger of organisations incorrectly using the two terms interchangeably. Putting this into practice can lead to insufficient protection when data is breached, or the physical place in which it resides is damaged.
“Data loss can happen for a multitude of reasons. We’ve witnessed businesses left with servers under four feet of water after a hurricane, networks taken down by ransomware, entire data centers burning down and corporate laptops stolen at airport security, to name just a few examples.
“Critically, businesses need to understand the difference between ‘storage’ and ‘backup’. Storage is simply a gateway to access information from anywhere, whereas backups are automatic, offsite, immutable, granular, take you to a point-in-time, and provide flexible restore options.
“Organisations can avoid disasters by understanding where their data is located and then ensuring they have the right backup product in place – meaning whatever data loss occurs at an organisation, they can take full advantage of their backup product to keep themselves running undisrupted.”
Evaluating data loss impact in the cloud
Continuous data protection
For many businesses, the shift to remote working that occurred worldwide last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak brought with it an ‘always on’, omnichannel approach to customer service. As this looks set to continue meeting the needs of consumers, organisations must consider 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,” said Levonai.
“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.”
How your business can achieve continuous data protection
Protecting collaboration apps
Collaboration and SaaS applications have proved crucial for maintaining operations during lockdown. They are also a hotbed for sensitive data, with apps such as Teams and Slack being used to transfer company-centric information. This means that ensuring that these kinds of critical parts of the network are effectively protected will continue to be paramount.
“The acceleration of collaboration technology, cloud adoption, and SaaS offerings with elasticity, is top of mind, and due to the uncertain times, meant that organisations were forced to act first and revise later,” explained John Day, sales engineering leader, UK&I and Nordics at Commvault.
“This approach was necessary for businesses to minimise the impact, and in some cases, was needed for survival, but this has left a wake of fragmented data, and dispersed technologies that need to be protected for compliance as well as business continuity.
“Businesses should back up their data by starting in reverse. Effective backup really starts with the recovery requirements and aligning to the business needs for continued service.
“Ensuring you have the right recovery solution that aligns to the criticality of the application and data, whilst balancing the cost to the business, as well as the simplicity of operations. For example, with Office 365, protecting email and information held in collaboration tools, using a SaaS solution enables customers rapid deployment of protection capabilities, without the overhead of building and maintaining traditional, self-created data protection services.”
Why collaboration is the key to true business intelligence
Consider a managed service provider
Along with phishing attacks, remote working has pushed the security of company networks more into hands of employees working from home, with human misconceptions around prevention strategies leading to errors and vulnerabilities. With staff innately more likely to focus on avoiding negative outcomes – prioritising prevention over backup and recovery provision – leadership teams should consider working with a managed service provider to take some of the strain off of security personnel.
“With lean security teams under more pressure than ever, many organisations will benefit from working with a managed service provider that can provide technical support and advice on a backup and recovery plan that matches the specific risks facing their business,” said Andy Collins, head of security at Node4.
“This includes carefully mapping out the operational impact to avoid performance degradation for systems and applications, identifying the most effective local or off-site backup location for each data tier and considering factors such as capacity and bandwidth availability to ensure recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) can be met.
“This can be hard for internal teams – who are already under immense stress – to allocate sufficient time and resources to, but its importance cannot be overstated. Working closely with the right partner can pay dividends in the long run.”