The two sides of data protection – Are you ready for anything?

More than ever before, organizations need a multi-layer approach to secure their data. This includes strategies to both defend and recover the data if the bad guys get in.

“Unfortunately, chances are that something is going to slip through at some point,” said Will Urban, Senior Technologist with iland, at a recent ITWC webinar. There has been a 67 per cent increase in security breaches over the last five years. The problem has gotten worse in the work from home environment because of new attack vectors, he said.

The cost of a breach in dollars and reputation has also reached record levels. According to the EU intelligence network, Europol, the global impact of cybercrime has risen to $3 trillion, making it more profitable than the global trade in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined.

But there is good news. “Over 96 per cent of companies with a trusted backup and recovery plan were able to survive ransomware attacks,” said Urban. Plus, the advent of cloud-based backup and recovery as a service has made this process much easier, he said.

There is no single bullet

Cyber security is like an onion, said Urban. There must be many layers of defence against cyber criminals in the ongoing cat and mouse game. These include security measures to protect physical facilities, networks, servers, applications and data. Comprehensive strategies to ensure regulatory compliance in all jurisdictions are also a must.

However, the most important thing is to put policies, procedures and awareness programs in place, Urban said. “The human element will always the biggest challenge,” he said. This is more challenging in the new normal when, for example an employee might be catching up on work in the evening, while also having Facebook open. One click on the wrong link could infect the corporate system, cautioned Urban.

Once multiple layers of defence are in place, then it’s time to focus on backup and recovery.

Instant recovery with cloud

Organizations can recover from attacks like ransomware if they frequently back up everything, said Brandon McCoy, Senior System Engineer with Veeam. “Backup copies should be made at least once day, and more often if data is changing quickly,” he said. The rule of thumb for backing up is to have at least three copies of data in two different media types, and one offsite copy that is easily accessible.

Secure backup as a service allows organizations to quickly recover backup data in the cloud, said McCoy. It also protects against insider threats by ensuring that the offsite copy can’t be accessed by employees.

However, backups alone are not enough, said Urban. “True IT resilience lies in the ability to quickly recover,” he said. In the past, disaster recovery was extremely expensive because of the need to duplicate hardware and connect to a secondary site.

“Now, the cloud environment has revolutionized how disaster recovery works,” Urban said. There can be full geographic redundancy with no upfront capital expense for hardware. With replication in the cloud, it’s possible to schedule testing at any time without causing a disruption. Automation and reporting build confidence that the recovery process is sound.

“We can recover back to the last five or ten minutes or whatever, all with the push of the button,” said Urban.  “And now, all of a sudden, your IT team members are superheroes for protecting the organization.”

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Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.

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