Is Your Data Backup Plan COVID-Proof?
August 26, 2020

Mike Fuhrman
Flexential

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No matter what year it is, businesses cannot afford, financially or operationally, to be hit by a data breach or system loss. This is an ongoing concern, but in the age of COVID-19, that risk multiplies several fold due to remote data access. Any downtime as companies work to recover lost information could have major consequences.

At the same time, businesses need to democratize data access to remote employees. We've seen this happening with the growth of cloud investment and migration, especially amidst remote work. But, despite the expansion of data access to accommodate remote workers, organizations are not simultaneously training their employees on how to securely maintain those systems.

To preserve open collaboration while keeping their enterprise environments secure, organizations should take this time to do a mid-year check-up on their data backup preparation. There are three areas where organizations should re-examine their operations to ensure data security, flexibility and accessibility.

Is Automatic Backup in Place Across Legacy and Modern Applications?

Because of the constant flow of data throughout the enterprise, if one system is breached all systems are affected. Therefore, data backup cannot be a siloed effort — it should be implemented uniformly across the entire organization's departments and applications. IT leaders should review how data is currently secured in their organization to make any necessary corrections.

First, organizations should have guidelines in place on where employees need to save and manipulate data — from servers to private cloud applications like Office365's SharePoint and OneDrive. Leadership must make sure that employees understand where critical information should live and are taking the correct steps to keep it there.

Second, we can't forget about historical application use. Even if a system is no longer actively used within the organization, it may still house important files that have not yet been carried over into new environments or that need to adhere to strict retention rules. Any backup software put into place should not only support the new, but also the old. Also, we need to ensure retention periods are properly defined and maintained.

Third, in remote scenarios, server access is often limited, making cloud use that much more essential. Backup software should go beyond desktop-only applications and extend into an organization's cloud environment, where a majority of employees are actively working on a daily basis.

Is Your Network Backbone Scalable, Strong and Secure?

A backup solution should not, and cannot, be a "one size fits all" approach. Every organization has unique needs and business demands. As such, it's important that your backup capabilities evolve as your organization grows.

Scalability is key to effectively managing all, not just some, of your data. This is especially true while online data creation is in hyperdrive as workforces collaborate virtually.

After correctly scaling your backup solutions to meet your needs, it's important to also take the time to check in on your network backbone. Bandwidth constraints are unacceptable, especially with employees offsite. If your backup solution goes down due to connection issues, you've lost the entire purpose of initial implementation.

From there, make sure it is all secure. Data should be consistently encrypted and able to be quickly restored, no matter if an employee is on or off site, if an unexpected disaster strikes. Malicious actors know that data access is widening and are seizing the opportunity to attack. In fact, cyber activity has grown exponentially in the last year, with reportsshowing that 82% of organizations have experienced downtime from an attack. Not to mention, employees are largely unaware of how to thwart potential attacks and often the reason for successful breaches. As an added layer of defense against attackers and human error, make sure your security protocol is up-to-date.

Finally, while all organizations are unique, compliance regulations remain standard across the board. Organizations should examine whether their current backup solution meets the data storage requirements to remain in accordance with current laws.

Are You Managing Backup Internally or Externally?

IT leadership must examine the effectiveness of their solution management. IT departments should ask themselves, "is the team of 'experts' we are outsourcing our back up needs to meeting all of our recovery, security and compliance needs?" or "is this allowing our team to focus on other organizational needs?"

If your organization is managing its own data backup, your IT department should already understand whether it is taking away from their other day-to-day activities. If teams are strapped for time and resources, it may prove helpful to experiment with your options. This could mean bringing on additional internal or external team members to support data management. You might consider outsourcing the management of your backups to focus your department's precious resources on other high-priority tasks.

Remain Prepared Despite Uncertain Times

We are in uncertain times where organizations are in remote hyperdrive. The worst case scenario right now is to lose data or access to it because employees cannot go into offices if systems go down and IT teams are not as readily accessible as they once were.

In conducting a mid-year check-in on your systems now, you will save your organization from an unnecessary burden tomorrow.

Mike Fuhrman is COO for Cloud and Managed Services at Flexential
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