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Make Backup And Disaster Recovery A Priority, Not An Afterthought

  • 5 min read

By Aslam Tajbhai, Solutions Architect at DMP South Africa

Considering the growing threat of ransomware and other malware, organisations’ cybersecurity budgets have increased accordingly. However, despite the importance of data in a digital landscape, backup and disaster recovery are often overlooked, which typically proves to have dire consequences. The reality is that both backup and disaster recovery are an integral part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy and are also essential in ensuring data integrity. A proactive approach toward backup and disaster recovery can help to reduce the impact of security breaches and facilitate uninterrupted operations in case of a data loss event. Far from being an afterthought, backup and disaster recovery should be a priority and a strategic business imperative.

Protecting what is most important

Data volumes are growing at an exponential rate, and today, data forms one of any business’ most important assets. As organisations continue to embrace the cloud, data is also increasingly distributed, no longer confined to a single site or location, but spread across various tools, platforms, and devices. This makes it an inviting target for cybercriminals, and the recent upsurge in ransomware, phishing and other malicious attacks aimed at obtaining sensitive information is evidence of the value of data.

Data needs to be protected, regardless of where it is used or stored, to ensure businesses can continue to operate should an incident occur. Most businesses realise this, but the focus has shifted distinctly toward cybersecurity, while backup and disaster recovery are neglected or are added as an afterthought. The two are not mutually exclusive though, and backup and disaster recovery are not only as important as cybersecurity but form an essential part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

When prevention is not possible, recovery is the only option!

Even with the very best cybersecurity tools and practices in place, the likelihood of a successful cybersecurity breach has increased dramatically in recent years. When this happens, organisations need to have a clean and accessible backup to restore their data to ensure business continuity with minimal business disruption. Not only can backups help organisations get back to business as usual after a breach, but they are also essential in recovering from accidental or malicious data deletion and even data corruption resulting from bugs in software and other less malicious threats.

The top priority for businesses should be to recover as fast as possible, with minimal disruption to operations. Backup and disaster recovery can help to mitigate risk from a range of potential problems, including physical hardware failures, human error, intentional data removal, accidental deletion, natural disasters like floods and fires, theft, and importantly from cyberattacks, which are increasingly a threat to businesses today.

Best practice backup and recovery

Data management solutions need to efficiently and securely back up data from a distributed and hybrid environment covering on-prem infrastructure, cloud solutions and remote endpoints, through a single pane of glass to simplify management. The solution should also automatically send copies of backup data to a secure offsite location, in keeping with the best practice of having multiple copies of data backups – preferably three copies of data on two different media, with one copy offsite, known as a 3-2-1 backup strategy.

Other considerations include locking down access to backups for enhanced security, role-based access and security policies, two-factor authentication, and ransomware protection on the backup targets as well as the production environment. Importantly, data needs to be classified based on its importance to ensure that critical information can be recovered first and that the impact to operations is minimised. Tiering systems based on criticality helps in determining the required retentions for different types of data as well. Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) must be clearly defined, and the ability to restore data needs to be regularly tested and updated to ensure it continues to meet business requirements. In addition, backup and disaster recovery solutions need to be kept up to date with the latest security patches to minimise vulnerabilities.

Before it is too late

Backup should always be a priority, not an afterthought, but often businesses do not realise the value of protecting their data through backups. Having an effective backup and disaster recovery plan as part of an overall cyber- and data security strategy is essential for ensuring continued operations and mitigating risk. The right partner will be an invaluable asset as they can help organisations ensure that their backups are secure and accessible, that global best practices in terms of data management are followed, and that the business can recover quickly and with minimal downtime in case of a breach or other data loss event.