Data Backup Protection

July 19, 2023 by
Mark Nash

The need to back up data has been around since floppy disks. Data loss can happen due to malware, hard drive crashes, and many other mishaps. There are about 140,000 hard drive crashes in the US weekly, and over the course of every five years, 20% of SMBs will suffer data loss due to a major disaster. This need to protect from data loss has helped to drive a robust cloud backup market that continues to grow. However, backing up data your data and forgetting about it isn't enough anymore; backups need more cybersecurity protection. Cloud-based backup has the benefit of being convenient, accessible, and effective, but there is also a need for certain security considerations with an online service. Companies need to consider data protection when planning a backup and recovery strategy. Some modern threats can target backups specifically, such as:

  • Data Center Outage: The "cloud" is a fancy name for internet-accessible servers that store data. Those servers can crash, be hacked, or even be physically disconnected or destroyed. While data centers tend to be safe, they are not foolproof and can have outages.
  • Sleeper Ransomware: This type of ransomware does not activate right after infecting a device. The goal is to have it infect all backups; then, when it's activated, the victim doesn't have a clean backup to restore.
  • Supply Chain Attacks: Supply chain attacks, which have been growing in popularity, include attacks on cloud vendors that companies use. When a vendor suffers a cyberattack, that attack spreads throughout their clients.
  • Misconfiguration: Even a simple misconfiguration can create a security vulnerability. It can allow attackers to gain access to cloud storage, allowing them to download and delete files as they like.

When choosing a data backup system, you must ensure the application you use provides adequate data protection. Here are some things to look for when reviewing a backup solution.

Ransomware Prevention

Ransomware is designed to spread throughout a breached network to infect any devices connected to it and compromise the data of those devices, including data on computers, servers, and mobile devices. Additionally, ransomware can also infect data in cloud platforms syncing with those devices; 95% of ransomware attacks also try to infect data backup systems. It's vital that any data backup solution you use has protection from ransomware, which is usually a feature that restricts automated file changes that ransomware attempts to use on documents.

Continuous Data Protection

Continuous data protection is a feature that will back up files as users update them. Traditional backup systems work on a schedule, such as backing all a device's data up once per day. Continuous data protection ensures that the system captures the latest file changes, mitigating data loss that can occur if a system crashes before the next scheduled backup. With the speed of modern data generation, losing a day's worth of data can be very costly.

Threat Identification

Data protection should incorporate proactive measures to protect files. The backup service you use should include threat identification functions in order to actively monitor your backups for malware. It looks for malware in new and existing backups. This helps stop sleeper ransomware and similar malware from infecting all backups.

Zero-Trust Tactics

Cybersecurity professionals around the world promote zero-trust security measures. A zero-trust approach holds that all users and applications need ongoing authentication; just because a user is logged into the system today doesn't mean they are completely trusted. Some of the primary zero-trust features to look for include:

  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Distinct file and folder permissions
  • Contextual authentication
  • Verification of permissions for file changes

Backup Redundancy

If you only back up to a single device, you only have one copy of those files. If something happens to that device, then your backup could be lost, and if your primary device is also damaged, it could result in total data loss. Cloud backup providers often have backup redundancy in place by mirroring the server holding your data to another server, ideally in a different location. This helps protect against data loss in the case of a server crash, natural disaster, or cyberattack.

Air Gapping for More Sensitive Data

Air gapping is a data protection method that involves keeping a copy of your data offline or separated in another way. This would entail making a second backup copy of your data and then putting it on another server disconnected from external sources. Air gapping is a feature that is especially helpful if you deal with highly sensitive data. It helps to ensure that you always have at least one other copy of your backup walled off from common internet-based attacks.