Importance of Data Backups

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Data is the backbone of the digital economy, and your organization probably collects a ton of information about its customers and internal operations to help keep things running smoothly. However, the increase in efficiency and productivity that came with the advent of the internet also means there are new and exciting risks to watch out for.

From time immemorial, there have been bad actors looking to take advantage of businesses for their own self-enrichment, but just as organizations have become more sophisticated, so too have criminals. They have developed tools like ransomware, spyware, phishing, and other techniques for breaching an organization’s cyber environment. This development has led to organizations falling prey to hackers who can charge millions of dollars to unlock a company’s system, because they know just how critical data is.

So, as someone who’s concerned about the stability of your business, what can you do?

The Cybersecurity of Old

In the early days of the technology revolution that gave rise to modern computing, people had frequently put their faith in the hardware and software that’s associated with cybersecurity, like firewalls and antivirus software. These are necessary tools that have become more robust over time, but they are also something that has been around long enough that cybercriminals have engineered ways around them with relative ease.

Now, most companies look to establish a secure IT environment through a layered approach that seeks to provide stability to the organization while protecting against varying attack vectors. While antivirus software and firewalls are still a necessary part of cybersecurity protocols as a means of slowing down an attacker, more robust versions of each exist in Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), and Next-Gen security appliances. In addition, security designs also now incorporate robust security awareness training for employees, strategic planning for remediation, and more.

However, one critical aspect that has existed for almost as long as we’ve had digital information is data backups.

How Data Backups Protect Organizations

Anyone who pays attention to the news knows ransomware can have a serious impact on an organization’s ability to operate, and one reason is because a ransomware attack can lock down an organization’s system until a ransom is paid, which can lead to significant downtime and revenue loss. Organizations occasionally pay the ransom, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be able to get rid of the ransomware, or that the attack won’t occur again. Once a system is compromised by ransomware, there’s always a chance a compromise can extend past the point of a ransom being paid.

The only true way to help ensure that your organization is secure is if the information you need can be restored without the help of the attacker, and the best way to do that would be to regularly use data backups to ensure your company’s information is secure.

Backing up your data is more than just saving a copy of your files; it can provide an earlier version of your entire system so you’re able to eliminate malware that’s infected your system. If there’s a failure anywhere in your IT environment’s security system, you’ll be able to undo the damage done by a ransomware attack by simply booting up an earlier version of your system while systems are reviewed for how attackers obtained access in the first place. Malicious events are not the only situations backups can protect against, as outages can strike in the form of human error, hardware failures, and software bugs.

But how much of a backup should you be looking to do?

Different Methods of Backups

When backing up your company’s information, there are some fundamental decisions that come to bear in how backup systems should be configured. One of these decisions is in the type of backup to perform:

  • File Level Backups
  • Image Level Backups

File Level backups typically involve making a copy of your systems’ files, which can then be recalled when needed. This kind of backup increases the time it takes for your organization to fully recover following a data breach if an entire operating system needs to be restored, but it can make it easier to recover smaller groups of files, such as a shared/mapped drive or a user’s document folder.

Unlike File Level backups, Image Level backups don’t require every file to be copied, but instead creates a snapshot of the entire system, often focusing on just the changed data since the last time your organization performed a full Image Level backup. One potential drawback of this kind of backup is that if you want to restore just a portion of the data, the entirety of the image needs to be staged prior to bringing the subset of data back. Image Level backup excels at restoring a system in its entirety, making recovery of a full system much faster if you are willing to restore all portions of the system at the same time, allowing for swift recovery with a minimum amount of downtime.

Final Thoughts

Backups are a key piece of protection for your company’s IT operations, and it’s critical that you do them frequently to ensure you’re prepared against any malware attack. However, coming up with a data backup plan that works for your organization is highly dependent on what your business’s priorities are. In some cases, Image Level backups are feasible, but most often there’s a combination of backup methods that will work as a protective shield against bad actors.

If you would like more information about how to navigate backup design and management, please visit our “Contact Us” page.