David Kelleher Profile

David Kelleher

Sep 11, 2023

David Kelleher Profile

David Kelleher

Sep 11, 2023

Developing a robust data backup strategy: Some considerations

Data is the lifeblood of every organisation. Protecting this invaluable asset is essential for business continuity and maintaining a competitive edge but equally important is the ability to recover the data in the event of data leakage or a breach.

Data backup is a fundamental component of an organisation’s cybersecurity and disaster recovery plan. Data backup is not the sole responsibility of the IT team. Senior management must understand and acknowledge the impact that data loss or compromise can have on the business, including financial losses, reputational damage, loss of trust and legal implications.

Why is backup so important?

Sensitive data can be found in many locations, on multiple devices and accessed by numerous employees making it even harder to manage and safeguard.

Volumes of data are also increasing at a fast rate. Rubrik data shows that on average, the growth of data secured in 2022 was 25% (on premises grew 19%, cloud grew 61%, and SaaS data grew 236% last year​). Faced with this reality businesses need a robust data backup strategy designed to safeguard critical data by creating redundant copies and storing them in separate locations.

The primary goal of a backup strategy is to ensure data availability and recoverability in the event of data loss, system failures, human errors, cyberattacks, or natural disasters. A well-executed data backup strategy is essential for maintaining business continuity, protecting sensitive information, and meeting regulatory compliance requirements.

A story in numbers

According to Expert Insights, 79% of companies have experienced at least one cloud data breach, and 43% have reported 10 or more breaches in recent years. Given that 92% of organisations are currently hosting at least some of their data in the cloud, that means the majority of all businesses around today have experienced a cloud data breach.

When it comes to backups, data from Statista shows:

91% backup their databases, which are often the most critical and valuable data assets for a business.

68% backup their email, which can contain important communication records and attachments.

However, only 16% backup their SaaS data, which can include cloud-based applications such as Office 365, Salesforce, or Google Workspace. This exposes them to the risk of losing data that is not covered by the cloud provider's backup and recovery policies.

Only 24% of organisations have a mature disaster recovery plan that is well-documented, tested, and updated. This means that many businesses are unprepared for a major data loss event and may face significant downtime and revenue loss.

Defining your backup strategy

There are some questions that you need to ask before you start.

  1. What data needs to be backed up?
    Not all data is equally important or critical. A business must identify and prioritise the data that needs to be backed up based on its value, sensitivity, and regulatory requirements.
  2. How often should data be backed up?
    The frequency of data backup depends on how often the data changes and how much data can be affordably lost in case of a disaster. In this case, the backup schedule should balance the risk of data loss with the cost and complexity of backup operations.
  3. Where should data be backed up?
    The location of data backup affects the accessibility, reliability, and security of the backup data. Costs will also dictate whether to use local storage devices, such as external hard drives or tapes; cloud storage services; or offsite storage facilities.
  4. How should data be backed up?
    The method of data backup determines how fast and easy it is to back up and restore data. Several backup models exist, each offering distinct advantages and suited for various data backup needs. The choice of the backup model depends on factors such as data size, recovery time objectives (RTOs), recovery point objectives (RPOs), budget, and risk tolerance.
  5. How should data be restored?
    The process of data restoration involves retrieving and recovering the backup data in case of a data loss incident. Some factors to consider include the recovery time objective (RTO), which is the maximum acceptable time to restore the data; the recovery point objective (RPO), which is the maximum acceptable amount of data loss; and the recovery service level agreement (SLA), which is the contractual guarantee of the quality and availability of the recovery service.

Creating a robust strategy

As a business grows and its data requirements change, the backup strategy needs to be flexible and multi-layered to allow for changes in infrastructure, storage methods and compliance / regulatory requirements.

That said, a backup strategy as a minimum should:

Have many layers of redundancy, across multiple storage types and in different locations. This increases the ability to recover the data in the event of physical disasters, cyberattacks, or hardware failures.

Automate backups to reduce the changes of human error and improve data recovery time.

Require regular testing and validation ensure that your backups are working and the data can be recovered. Hardware can fail and data can become corrupted. Testing helps to identify problems with your backups.

This may seem obvious, but data backup should go hand-in-hand with strong encryption and security measures. Encrypting at rest, in transit and in use. Access to backups should be restricted.

A robust data backup strategy is an indispensable aspect of a business’s risk management and cybersecurity efforts. BMIT offers a range of backup options, including storage options, offsite and dedicated servers to Backup-as-a-service and Managed Backup.

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