When it comes to data management, recent research highlights a disturbing trend: two in three companies face data loss due to inadequate backup systems, and a staggering 32% of security decision-makers attribute unsuccessful recovery to weak backup processes. This cannot continue — not least because ‘data is king’ in the digital business world.
With cyber threats on the rise and workforces becoming more geographically dispersed, the need for robust backup practices is more critical than ever. But while the importance of strong backup measures cannot be overstated, the reality for many SMEs is the challenge of limited budgets and resources. Unlike larger enterprises, SMEs often operate within tighter financial constraints, making investing in sophisticated backup solutions difficult. Recognising this limitation is crucial, and it prompts the need for more strategic and cost-effective approaches to data protection.
At Vapour, safeguarding customer data has been a priority since our inception in 2013. Here, CEO Tim Mercer explores how to keep systems in check amid evolving challenges. SMEs can ensure the protection of their technology estates in the face of evolving challenges.
The changing data management landscape
The data management landscape has undergone significant changes in recent years. Rising cybercrime and more sophisticated attack vectors have meant that cyber threats, once isolated incidents, have evolved into complex, multi-faceted attacks, urging SMEs to augment their defences. And the shift to geographically dispersed workforces – intensified by the rise of remote work – means traditional security perimeters no longer suffice.
AI and automation have given rise to a number of challenges too. While the benefits of new integrations cannot be overstated, neither can the complexities surrounding data management in an automated, tech-reliant world. One error could compromise not only data integrity but also pose significant threats to privacy and security.
Of course, the cloud is another paradigm to keep a watchful eye over. Yes, this infrastructure offers scalability and accessibility, among other benefits. However, despite common misconception, they’re not inherently secure. In reality, the cloud requires as much, if not more, protection than traditional systems due to its expanded surface of risk in virtual environments. Many firms think cloud providers have protection covered within their contracts too. That also couldn’t be further from the truth. As such, taking responsibility for your own data is key.
So, what else should businesses keep an eye out for?
Best practices for SME data backup
To navigate these complexities, establishing best practices is crucial. These strategies empower SMEs to navigate the intricate terrain of data security, ensuring they can withstand evolving threats and continue operations with confidence and resilience.
- Cloud assurance - Contrary to common misconceptions, the cloud requires just as much protection as traditional on-premise systems, if not more. Therefore, you should explore nuances between public and private clouds, on-premises solutions, and hybrid infrastructures, and understand the measures in place to protect your data. Not sure where to start? Speak to a truly cloud-agnostic partner to help uncover the crucial details.
- Modernising strategies - While the traditional 3-2-1 backup model is recommended – three copies of your data (your production data and two backup copies) on two different media , with one copy off-site for disaster recovery – you should explore more recent approaches like the 3-2-1-1-0 backup model, to adapt to the evolving threat landscape. This stipulates that you should have:
- At least three copies of your data, including the production copy.
- At least two different storage media should be used; for instance, tape and cloud storage.
- At least one of the copies should be kept off-site, in case your machines are physically damaged.
- At least one copy should be kept offline or, if you prefer to use the cloud, be immutable, so it cannot be modified in any way.
- Your backups should have been completed with 0 errors.
- SD-WAN - In the era of dispersed workforces, prioritising network security is paramount. Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) emerges as a crucial solution, ensuring encrypted endpoints for secure data transmission. By adopting SD-WAN, businesses create a flexible framework that adapts to the dynamic nature of a distributed workforce.
- Zero trust paradigms - Implementing a zero trust approach is vital to safeguard data from the start and enhance disaster recovery protocols. Only authorised personnel should initiate or modify backup tasks, and access should be revoked once the operation is complete.
- The human factor - According to a study by IBM, 95% of cybersecurity breaches result from human error. Therefore, empowering employees with knowledge about data security is of the utmost importance. Internal education and awareness should be a top priority for all organisations, and all staff must be versed in backup best practices.
- Beyond compliance - Ensure backup practices align with industry regulations (such as basics like ISO and GDPR), and address specific requirements in highly regulated spaces like healthcare and finance. It’s in spaces like these that breaches can be most catastrophic, with major financial penalties and reputational consequences on the line.
- Future-proofing backups - Organisations should embrace the transformative capabilities of AI, automation, and predictive analytics to foresee backup requirements, streamline resource utilisation, and proactively address future challenges. These technologies empower businesses to anticipate data storage needs, allocate resources efficiently, and stay ahead of evolving demands, fostering a proactive and resilient approach to data management.
- Challenge traditional notions of disaster recovery - Introduce innovative solutions that minimise downtime and ensure instant business continuity. Businesses should also be aware of the importance of regular cloud decommissioning to remove or optimise redundant or idle kit.
- Embrace unified solutions - Organisations should use unified backup solutions that seamlessly integrate with different cloud platforms. These systems provide a centralised management interface, allowing SMEs to monitor and manage backups across multiple clouds from a single dashboard.
- The importance of knowledge sharing - Encourage open and transparent knowledge sharing within the community. Share experiences and scenarios to help others adjust their strategies and avoid potential pitfalls. Advice costs nothing.
Backups as a non-negotiable
Backups are a non-negotiable part of every IT strategy, but they don't need to be a headache. SMEs can lean on trusted partners like Vapour, tapping into industry-leading toolkits to optimise their backup strategies for 2024 and beyond. With the right practices in place, businesses can navigate the evolving data management landscape with confidence and resilience.
Need to boost your organisation's backup practices? Get in touch with our team to discuss the best practices for your business.