If this year’s cyberattacks have taught us anything, it’s the importance of server backups and data redundancy. While part of the problem is vulnerabilities and zero-day threats catching enterprise networks off guard, the sheer amount of data currently collected, stored, and processed is becoming too much to manage.
Server backups for critical network resources address both of these problems by:
- Ensuring attackers don’t lock network users out of needed resources.
- Pushing organizations to identify and optimize data retention and security practices.
This article analyzes how server backups work, the difference between local and cloud backups, why backups are vital, and what backup solutions exist.
What Is a Server Backup?
Backup servers are the high-powered computers responsible for storing and protecting critical network data for the worst-case scenario. Whether it’s a hurricane, extended power outage, or advanced cyberattack, organizations need a method for restoring lost data.
Local or cloud-based servers can back up files, folders, databases, hard drives, and more to ensure data persists outside of its day-to-day use as network resources.
With the rise of cloud solutions, backup services have become a significant vertical. Beyond the consumer cloud storage market, several vendors fight to secure the cloud server backup space for businesses.
How Do Backups Work in Cloud Computing?
With the development of cloud computing, cloud services help secure data in three ways. Rather than competing methodologies, the following often work in conjunction to serve the organization.
A. Cloud Storage
Simple storage of data
B. Cloud Backup
Automatic backup of data
C. Cloud Sync
Active syncing between files
Local Backup vs. Cloud Backup
Any servers or other organization devices (e.g., tapes, disks, flash drives) holding redundant data on the physical premises are known as local backups. Not dependent on a third-party organization or the internet, local backups are accessible and reload system backups faster than remote cloud backup alternatives.
Like many other cloud solutions, cloud backups are services offered by cloud providers and their army of remote servers and global data centers. Cloud backups are available on public cloud platforms (e.g., AWS, Azure, GCP), or organizations can establish and support backups via private cloud infrastructure.
The benefits of cloud backups include reduced overhead, protection from natural disasters, access to data from anywhere, more robust security, and scalability. However, cloud backups take longer to reload or sync systems, cloud providers do not make switching easy, and networks are at risk of data loss when service contracts come to an end.
Hybrid Backups and the 3-2-1 Backup Rule
While local and cloud backups both have their benefits, it’s not good practice to rely on one or to limit your backups to a single copy. Industry professionals have come to agree on the 3-2-1 principle of backups:
For all pertinent data, you should have three copies of that data. One of these is your existing network doling out resources, while administrators should place the remaining two in different types of storage. One of those two storage mediums should be an off-site copy, such as a cloud backup.
Types of Data Backups
- Copies everything
- Heavy data load
- Slowest to back up
- High restore speed
- Restores full backup
- Copies new changes
- Medium data load
- Faster to back up
- High restore speed
- Restores last full backup and last differential backup
- Copies new changes
- Small data load
- Fastest to backup
- Slowest restore speed
- Restores last full backup and all incremental changes
The Importance of Offline Backups
In May 2021, hackers targeted the networks of energy company Colonial Pipeline and meat-processing company JBS, encrypting their data. Without access to network resources and afraid of further compromise, Colonial and JBS decided to shut down network segments or halt production. Many other companies have done the same in this situation.
One solution to deterring encrypt and extort schemes is offline backups, which remain untouched by the threat actors. In the examples mentioned above, ransomware gangs encrypted network data, preventing personnel and stakeholders from normal operations. Organizations must consider paying the ransom while continued downtime or even bankruptcy threatens the firm’s survival.
With an intact offline server backup, restoring the network could be done in the flip of a switch (and a chunk of buffering time depending on the organization’s size). While once limited to local servers, cloud backup services continue to offer SMBs access to a scalable, remote server solution.
Managing an Ocean of Data
Data can be both an asset and a disadvantage for organizations. It’s an asset because data can inform business decisions, but it’s a liability because of the risks associated with data loss. In both instances, the message is clear: take organization data seriously.
Establishing a Recovery Plan
Organizations of all sizes today rely on storing data. Employee and customer information, proprietary documents, application code, e-mail servers, and more are examples of data best kept private. However, implementing a backup and recovery plan for enterprise networks is easier said than done. Our recommendations for getting started include:
- Organize a detailed inventory of network components (software, hardware, and cloud-based)
- Evaluate and record the volume of data for different network segments
- Identify pertinent data for retention and data that can be securely disposed
- Ensure all systems, devices, and personnel adhere to regulatory compliance
Securing Data is Essential for Business Continuity
The thought that keeps cybersecurity professionals up at night is the threat of a data leak. Whether it damages the organization’s brand or puts the company in legal or financial jeopardy, consumers, public authorities, and organizations take data seriously. In addition to their clients’ sensitive information, businesses have proprietary data that allows them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
While larger, more popular companies have received the brunt of cyber attacks over the years, no organization has ever been 100% digitally secure. Across industries, remote offline backups are an essential part of the toolkit to survive the next disaster.
Backups: Preparing for the Worst-Case Scenario
The global economy is increasingly dependent on data. Because it’s at the heart of everything we do in a digital world, data intrinsically has a high dollar value. While natural disasters are less frequent, the digital threats presented by bad actors, malware, and human error make backup services essential. Prepare for the worst-case scenario by taking the time now to evaluate your organization’s sensitive data, server backups, and disaster recovery logistics.
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