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Why backups are your digital safety net

by Tia

In an era where digital assets underpin the fabric of modern society and data serves as the lifeblood of both individuals and enterprises, the imperative of robust data security measures cannot be overstated. 

So much so that the Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2024 highlights that 37% of servers experienced at least one unexpected outage in 2023, where cyberattacks ranked as the most common and impactful cause of these outages for a fourth consecutive year.  

As the sector observes World Backup Day on 31 March, the importance of data protection and uptime is paramount, particularly as secure backups are essential for maintaining the continuity of vital services and operations. It promotes the importance of regular backups and encourages individuals and enterprises to implement resilient data protection strategies to safeguard valuable information and preserve the integrity of digital assets. 

Worryingly, the Veeam Ransomware Trends Report 2023 suggests that a mere 30% of organisations test their backups, with some going almost two years without evaluating their  backup repository. This lack of due diligence leaves them ill-prepared to successfully recover post-attack, placing them in a predicament they would certainly want to avoid.

According to Ian Engelbrecht, System Engineering Manager at Veeam Software, data backups are a critical part of today’s increasingly connected world, and while some organisations drive this imperative in their operations, many cite several reasons as to why they have not bolstered their backup and recovery strategy.  

“Some organisations point to the affordability of backup solutions,” he said. “However, the expense of implementing immutable backups is minimal compared to the potential losses that can result from data breaches or system failures, and investing in a customized strategy with cost-efficient solutions that include cloud-based services and external hard drives represents a proactive measure that ultimately saves time, money and stress in the long run.”

Moreover, Engelbrecht adds that other misconceptions include the belief that data backups are unnecessary for small-scale users or businesses, when in reality, data loss can affect anyone; the assumption that backups are a one-time task, neglecting the need for regular updates and testing to ensure their effectiveness; and the misunderstanding that that cloud storage alone guarantees data protection, overlooking the responsibility of data owners to proactively protect backup their data.

Despite the availability of various methods for data backup and recovery, including on-premises solutions and utilizing cloud initiatives for services like backup-as-a-service (BaaS) and disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS), the emphasis lies in maintaining multiple immutable backups across diverse media platforms.

“According to the Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2024, only 32% of survey respondents feel confident in their ability to recover a small server stack within a business week in a fabricated scenario involving a data centre with 50 servers,” said Engelbrecht. 

“This reduced confidence is why, at Veeam, we advise customers to utilize the 3-2-1-1-0 rule when backing up their data. This requires an organisation to maintain at least three copies of its data, on two different media, with at least one copy stored at an offsite location, one copy offline, and all backups being verified through testing with zero errors as result.”

Secure backups start with proper planning, and as such, there are four key best practices to ensuring data remains ironclad. These include a zero-trust approach that incorporates one-time passwords and restricted internet access; immutability for the data’s lifecycle; planning for the worst possible outcome after an attack by compiling a proven and documented recovery plan; and finally, mitigating any potential reintroduction of the threat by making sure only safe and clean backups are returned back into the system.  

Advances in technology are enabling backups to be performed more efficiently than ever before. With the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), data backup and recovery processes are experiencing a significant transformation.

These cutting-edge technologies optimise every aspect of backup procedures, from policy creation to resource allocation and scheduling. Moreover, AI and ML play a proactive role in identifying potential issues before they escalate, thereby minimizing the risk of data loss and downtime. 

This newfound efficiency not only enhances data protection, but also streamlines the overall backup and recovery workflow, allowing organisations to maintain operational continuity with greater ease and confidence.

“While the rise of ransomware and legislation like NIS2 certainly mean more companies are taking backup of their data seriously, the fundamentals – having multiple, protected, reliable copies of data – remain the same,” said Michael Cade, Field CTO Cloud Native Product Strategy and Global Technologist at Veeam.

“What has changed in regards to backup are the environments businesses now need to protect. Workloads aren’t all under one roof anymore. There are multiple platforms to protect and backup. Physical, virtual, cloud-native and SaaS environments, which all interlock and integrate, must be reliably backed up and recovered. It’s no surprise that, according to our recent research, the two most important attributes sought in an ‘enterprise backup’ solution are reliability and the protection of cloud-hosted workloads (IaaS & SaaS).

“As businesses broaden their tech horizons and embrace the cloud, virtualisation, containers and whatever environment helps them optimise performance and lower costs, when it comes to back these up, they need the right tool for the job. Naturally, the tech comes first, but backup cannot be an afterthought. It needs to be part of the thinking from day one, a move that will result in a radical shift in the organisation’s resilience,” concluded Cade. 

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