In a somewhat ironic scenario, many businesses still have those red metal emergency boxes attached to the walls within their offices. The idea is that in the event of a fire, someone would break the glass and retrieve a fire extinguisher or fire hose in order to put out the blaze and thus save the day.
The problem, as we see it, is that in the modern business landscape the types of emergencies that a business is far more at risk for will not require an extinguisher or fire hose. We’re not advocating that you get rid of the “In Case of Emergency” boxes in the office, but instead, broaden your horizon and take preventative measures to help protect your sensitive business data in the event of an emergency.
Data has become a form of currency, and when a business suffers a loss of data there are major repercussions. Obviously, you can’t plan for natural disasters, but companies or individuals who maintain servers in-house or consider external hard drives to be enough of a safety net are risking more than they realize.
The purpose of today’s post is to convey some modern advice about data backup and disaster recovery.
We’ll seek to inspire business owners and IT managers to seriously consider if they are taking the right precautions to protect a precious business asset – their data.
The Ransomware Threat
Ransomware has been around for a while but was really thrust into the spotlight until May of 2017 when the infamous WannaCry event occurred. The technical aspect of WannaCry involved the EternalBlue exploit through the Windows operating system, but the more disturbing fact about WannaCry was the millions of dollars in damages that business owners had to swallow if the didn’t pay the ransom in cryptocurrency to get their data unlocked.
There was spotty evidence that paying the ransom would even lead to a successful recovery of the data.
Even so, the true cost of recovering data compromised by ransomware attacks is higher than just the ransom. Paying ransoms for data is never a sustainable business model, and it is a situation that’s easily avoided by having redundancy built into a data backup program.
There are several ways that a business can build-in protection against ransomware. Even if that business becomes a victim of a ransomware attack, the data recovery process can go much more smoothly if the following tips are taken seriously:
- Identify critical business data (trade secrets, production methods, customer and employee personal information) and include this data in a backup and recovery plan
- Test the backup system quarterly to stress-test, and help accelerate the recovery process in the event of a worst-case scenario
- For even more security, isolate top-priority data and include an additional redundancy backup in the event primary backups are compromised
These are foundational aspects of an inclusive data backup plan. Properly deployed, a company should be able to restore most, if not all critical data in the event of a successful ransomware attack. Money that would otherwise be used to release locked data can be better spent protecting digital assets proactively, instead of reactively.
Continuous has experience helping companies design data backup systems for businesses of all sizes. Many organizations benefit from a type of offsite cloud-based backup system, but we’ve also deployed hybrid systems for businesses that have a need to store data onsite.
The Case for Redundancy
The word “redundancy” doesn’t immediately communicate the idea of value.
In fact, the definition could be interpreted as the opposite of how you might describe a data backup system. However, redundancy in this context is essential to the health of any organization deploying a strong data backup and recovery system. We’ll go with the definition more suitable for engineering:
“The inclusion of extra components that are not strictly necessary to functioning, in case of failure in other components.”
In the simplest of terms, data redundancy allows a business to store critical business data offsite in the event of a flood, fire or other disaster that renders data stored onsite useless.
One major problem that plagues small businesses, in particular, is the “too small to matter” complex. A small business with less than 10 employees might see themselves with a relatively small target on their backs from hackers.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Especially when you consider that SMBs do not dedicate as many resources to cyber security as enterprise companies. They might have compromised data for sale on the dark web and not even know it. A recent article in IT Pro provided some alarming survey results around SMBs reluctance to prepare for a disaster that wiped out their systems:
Most worryingly, the survey showed that 17% of all respondents do not back up their business data at all, with the only official copy residing on the individual system it was created on. This figure is predominantly influenced by sole traders and micro-businesses of less than 10 people - 20% and 10% respectively say they keep no backups, while that figure plummets to 2% for medium businesses of between 50 and 249 employees.
However, almost 50% of survey respondents said that their backups were kept on a separate system within the same office - indicating a troubling lack of disaster recovery plans.
It Starts in The Cloud
We recommend that SMBs looking to elevate themselves out of the “cyber security poverty line” start with installing data redundancy through a cloud network. As we pointed out above, keeping data offsite provides a strong foundation for protection against natural disasters and bad actors who would seek to lock down business data and hold it for ransom.
There was a time when external hard drives were a fine solution, but today’s business landscape results in nearly continuous data collection, as well as the need to have access to that data 24 hours a day, and not necessarily by parties in your office.
You have an insurance policy on your car, and your home and other big-ticket items you care about. Why should you treat your businesses most valuable asset any differently?
A cloud-based backup system helps ensure the continued productivity of the company, it helps maintain a solid reputation with customers and has built-in scaling capability. There’s also the small detail that cloud-based solutions are likely much less expensive than buying an additional onsite backup solution.
Third-party vendors, like Continuous Networks, provide the added benefit of 24/7 monitoring and management, which means that you can leave the office each day with the peace of mind that your data integrity will remain strong.
We’re going to take it one step further today and remind the reader that you can take advantage of the FREE IT Optimization Plan from Continuous Networks. All you must do is provide a few pieces of information for us, and we can get started right away.
The guide will provide valuable information about gaps and oversights in your current IT infrastructure that you might not have even realized were there.
Spoiler alert – part of our optimization plan will discuss installing a cloud-based data backup and recovery program.
We promise our plan will give you the opportunity to improve the productivity of your business and save money in the process.
In case of emergency, just rely on your data backup and recovery systems!