In these challenging times, it’s easy for even the most essential and well-rehearsed routines—such as making regular backups of your data—to fall by the wayside. So, although this year’s World Backup Day on 31st March may not be making all the big headlines, it’s still a timely opportunity to revisit the ways that we as organizations and individuals keep our data protected and available, whatever life throws at us.
The list of reasons to backup data is almost never-ending. Ask almost anyone, and they'll say it's to protect against the effects of IT systems failures, human error or natural disasters. But there is also a growing raft of globally enforced data protection directives including GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI. These directives insist on a robust backup and recovery strategy to prevent the loss of sensitive data or its release into the public domain. Last, but by no means least, we believe that frequently backing up your data is the best way to mitigate against cyberattacks such as ransomware, DDoS, and other forms of malware.
With our minds understandably occupied by the spread of COVID-19, it's easy to put our worries about cyberattacks on the backburner and even think that they are trivial by comparison. But that would be foolish. Cybercriminals are actually playing on our fears over COVID-19 right now and want to seize their opportunity when our guards are down. There are at least two cases we’re aware of in which a downloadable app pretends to show users a map of global COVID-19 infections, but actually locks victims out of their phones, computers and IT systems until they agree to pay up.
This is just one example of the increasing number of global ransomware attacks, and it demonstrates that cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated, devious, and daring. That's why, far from being trivial, it’s even more important right now to regularly backup your data and test how quickly you can recover, should the worst happen. To give you some context, imagine if a ransomware attack were to happen now in a hospital or if a gang of cybercriminals took down a city’s IT infrastructure. These are significant problems at the best of times. However, with stretched resources and a global pandemic, it's more likely than ever that organizations will pay up or risk losing their data, and that the cybercriminals will win.
As we’ve already alluded to, making frequent backups is one of the best ways to protect your data from cyberattacks or other scenarios in which critical information could be lost or become inaccessible. The more often you backup your data, the more closely your backup will mirror your primary data. The result is you’ll lose much less information. It sounds obvious when you say it out loud, but you'd be surprised at how many companies still only backup their data once at the end of each day. But in a fast-moving world, where data powers business and empowers people, this is not good enough. To make things simple—especially for smaller IT teams that are looking after multiple remote locations—it's worth looking into a solution that can automatically backup your data at regular intervals. That way, you're free to focus on more strategic tasks.
Use World Backup Day as an opportunity to take a fresh look at how you physically backup your data too, and ask yourself some searching questions. Are you still using tape, for example? Do you use a mirrored server in the same office? As well as making a local backup, do you make additional copies to a remote location and the cloud?
This last point is particularly important because if you can recover your data from local and remote copies, you’ll be prepared for many more eventualities. Creating localized backups across an organization’s distributed locations—ideally with a hyperconverged edge computing solution in each place—will help when recovery speed is of the absolute essence. Remote backup and recovery options come to the fore in the event of a fire, flood, or natural disaster and allow data to be accessed and recovered from another location within the company.
Although we've been talking about backing up your data, World Backup Day is also an excellent time to check how quickly you can recover from data loss or data lockout. But don’t make it an annual test. Set a calendar reminder to prompt a monthly review to test recovery speeds against new threats or following the introduction of new hardware or software across your IT infrastructure.
Minimal data loss and a quick recovery time remove practically all the leverage that cybercriminals have over you and your organization. If you can flick a switch and reboot your systems to a point before a malware attack, then cybercriminals can’t hold you hostage. Moreover, if your company experiences a natural disaster or the IT system goes down because of human error, regular backups and fast recovery capabilities will limit the financial and reputational costs that your company might otherwise face.
So do yourself a favor, put World Backup Day in your calendar this—and every—31st March, and keep your data safe and accessible at all times.