Modern businesses rely so heavily on data that data loss can be severely devastating. The best way to ensure data security and availability is to keep a retrievable up-to-date data backup. A 2021 survey found that although backing up data is common practice today, more than half of the IT professionals surveyed said their organizations suffered downtime due to data loss in the last year. Also, most organizations do not prioritize or customize their data backup processes, leaving critical data availability and recovery gaps.
So, what does a dependable data backup plan look like, and why is data backup such a big deal in the first place?
The importance of data backup
Data backup and recovery are vital components of cybersecurity and business continuity. The purpose of backing up data is to create a mirror copy of the entire data estate that can be used if the original data becomes unavailable. Data loss, unavailability, or inaccessibility can occur due to any of these reasons:
- Hardware failure: Data storage systems can crash and take data with them. Most hardware-related data losses result from hard drive failure and power issues.
- Database misconfigurations: Simple errors in DBMS or cloud configurations can make data unreachable or unusable.
- Cyberattacks and data theft: Ransomware is among the most devastating threats to corporate data. In a ransomware attack, the attacker encrypts the victim’s data and demands payment to decrypt it. But, on average, only 65 percent of the encrypted data gets restored, even after paying the ransom. DDoS attacks can also hinder access to data resources over a compromised network or server. Not to mention that vandals and criminals can make away with computers, servers, or vital information devices.
- Natural disasters: Extreme weather conditions, fires, earthquakes, and the like can damage physical data infrastructures.
- Software corruption: Software applications’ glitches or misconfigurations can corrupt data integrity, making it unreadable or inaccessible.
- Human error: Another common way businesses lose data is through human error—accidental deletion/manipulation, negligence in data handling, and insider sabotage.
The 3-2-1-1 backup strategy
The 3-2-1-1 data backup strategy is a modification of the popular 3-2-1 backup rule first coined by Peter Krogh in his 2005 publication “The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers.” The new backup rule goes like this: keep at least 3 copies of data, in 2 media types, 1 copy offsite, and 1 copy offline. It adds an extra requirement to the 3-2-1 approach: storing at least one data copy in cold backup.
What’s the point of storing a backup copy offline? It all comes down to mitigating the highly advanced data loss threats facing businesses today. For instance, ransomware attacks target hosted data repositories such as data centers and storage servers. Also, DDoS traffic can cripple crucial links between online data systems. An offline backup is immune to ransomware, DDoS, and other network-based attacks.
An offline data backup must be reliable, easy to update and retrieve, and secure like any backup system. A dedicated offline storage server or data bank with high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) makes an ideal cold backup unit.
Getting on with data backup
Data backups play a significant role in data loss prevention. Keeping a reliable data backup is an indirect requirement in most data safety and privacy standards. So, in addition to guaranteeing data availability, backups can get you closer to achieving data security compliance.
However, a backup will only work if set up properly so that all backup and restoration processes execute flawlessly. In other words, ensure every backup copy mirrors the original data (ideally through automated sync) and is readily accessible in an emergency. You also have to validate and improve your backup system via regular tests repeatedly.
If all that sounds like a lot of work, it definitely is. But hiring an IT services professional such as CTSI makes everything easier. Our data experts can help you fine-tune and test your data backup plan to ensure performance, reliability, and security. Contact us to reinforce data security with a trusted IT partner.