Businesses routinely claim that data is their most valuable asset, yet too many behave as if they don’t truly believe it. Steady increases in breaches, ransomware attacks, backup failures and other data loss incidents suggest that organizations aren’t doing enough to safeguard their critical data.
Analysts say nearly half of U.S. businesses still rely on outdated technologies and processes that were designed for conventional on-premises backup. These practices are ill-suited for today’s environments in which data is often spread across multiple data centers, cloud platforms, edge servers and endpoint devices.
Poor data protection practices deliver predictable results. According to one recent survey, almost half of all companies experienced a data loss event resulting in downtime during the previous year. Hacking, human error and hardware failures were among the leading causes of data loss.
A robust backup and disaster recovery strategy is essential for protecting your critical information assets and minimizing the risk of downtime. Here are some of the key characteristics of an effective BU/DR plan:
- 3-2-1 strategy. The 3-2-1 approach to backup calls for making three separate copies of data, storing them on two different types of media with one copy stored at an offsite location. This level of redundancy will help ensure you can access a good copy of your data in the event of a disaster, malicious attack or device failure.
- Data immutability. Newer ransomware strains are known to spread throughout local systems in order to corrupt or encrypt backup files. Immutable backups that cannot be altered or deleted provide a critical hedge against such threats. At least one copy of your backup should use immutable storage or be completely isolated from local systems so that it can’t be compromised.
- Geographic diversity. Research suggests that more than a third of businesses rely upon onsite data replication, which won’t provide any protection if a disaster incapacitates your main site. Geographic diversity, or geodiversity, refers to maintaining adequate physical distance between your primary site and your backup location. A distance of about 100 miles is commonly recommended, but cloud platforms make it possible to store redundant data on different continents.
- Backup encryption. Encrypting backup data helps protect it in the event of theft or exposure. It’s also a requirement for compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS and HIPAA. You should use strong, industry-standard cryptography — ideally AES-256-bit encryption, but at minimum AES-128 — and make sure the cryptographic keys are properly managed.
- Frequent testing. Don’t wait until an actual emergency to find out if your backup plan is working properly. Perform frequent backups and verify they are working properly to ensure data, files, applications and other resources can be reliably accessed. Plans should be modified as needed to ensure they are meeting your recovery requirements.
An effective backup and disaster recovery plan is critical for all businesses, but many regard the process as too costly, complex and time-consuming. Research finds that about 10 percent of companies have no BU/DR plan in place, and about a third of the remainder only back up data intermittently because the process is so complicated.
Organizations with limited manpower and expertise may be better served by a managed backup service. A qualified provider such as RMM Solutions will reduce your staffing burden by orchestrating backup processes while also managing security and recovery processes. We also test backups frequently to ensure they are working properly and readily available in the event of an attack or some other disaster.
Although the consequences of data loss are well understood, too many businesses don’t have an acceptable backup and recovery strategy in place. Contact us to learn more about implementing a plan to ensure the safety of your critical data assets.