Why senior management needs to make cloud backup a priority

At work and at home, backup is critical. From making photocopies of significant documents to digitizing old family photos, relying on hard drives to replicating servers, we all know that it’s important to have multiple copies of the information that matters to our families and our businesses. Knowing we should do something, however, isn’t the same as doing it consistently and well -- which is why backup often fails.   

Many organizations still rely on outdated backup strategies that put the company at risk from cybercrime, human error, physical disasters and more. But because the business "already has a backup plan", or because backup isn’t a shiny new object, it can be difficult to convince senior management to make it a priority. 

Why is backup so important?

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Data is the modern business’s most valuable asset -- and there is more and more of it every day. 

It enables businesses to make smarter, more informed, and more effective decisions. It helps organizations understand and connect to their customers, improve and innovate upon their products and services, outsmart and out-market the competition, offer dynamic pricing models, and optimise everything from manufacturing to IT. It powers technologies like analytics, AI, and machine learning that are already ushering in dramatic changes to business processes and potential. In many cases, data becomes a product in and of itself, opening new revenue streams and paving the way for growth in a rapidly changing economy.

But data can also be a liability. Organizations must ensure that they protect user/consumer data to comply with local, national, and international regulations. As the amount of data generated by every business grows, so does the burden and the imperative to manage it. Companies need data backup they can trust, because losing data can bring grievous repercussions.

The threats just keep coming

Unfortunately, protecting that valuable data becomes harder every year. A combination of external and internal threats puts most organizations’ data under nearly constant attack. 

External cybersecurity threats continue to grow dramatically. Viruses, hackers, ransomware, malware, phishing attacks and everything in between can steal or corrupt your organization’s data.

Internal threats have kept pace with their external counterparts. Forrester predicts that internal incidents will increase 8 percent and be responsible for 33 percent of breaches in 2021, driven largely by the pandemic-inspired shift to remote work. These events may stem from accidental data misuse or malicious employee intent and add to the list of ways that data can be lost or corrupted at your organization.

Physical disasters are also a threat to your organization’s data. From mechanical malfunctions to extreme weather, physical disasters like fires, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes can damage or destroy the storage and equipment that houses your most critical data. Even if data is backed up to a different media type or storage location than the original, if it is in the same premises, it remains at risk.

How does data loss impact the business?

If the volume and variety of ways that an organization can lose data is daunting, the impact of that data loss is even more concerning. Senior management needs to understand that backup is a smart investment due to the repercussions, outlined below, which can occur if data is lost.

  • Financial: A data loss incurs financial impact in numerous direct and indirect ways. During the event itself, businesses lose productivity and operations grind to a halt.

The time and effort related to dealing with the breach divert resources from revenue-generating opportunities and inhibit customer service and satisfaction, causing further damage down the line. Businesses impacted by a data breach suffer from increased customer turnover and the cost of acquiring new business due to reputational loss. The lost data itself also comes at a cost. Intellectual property data, as an example, can be worth millions or billions, and if lost or destroyed, may never be able to be recouped.

  • Reputational: For many organizations, much of the long-term financial impact of a data breach stems from reputational damage. Put simply, customers don’t trust companies that lose their data. That lack of trust translates to diminished brand equity and reduced revenue. 
  • Individual: Customers abandon businesses that compromise their data with good reason: it can have serious personal ramifications. A data breach that results in the loss of personal sensitive data can lead to identity theft, fraud, and medical setbacks, among others. The negative sentiment generated by these events, of course, rolls back up to the reputational and ultimately financial impact of data loss. 
  • Legal: Many companies that experience a data loss event end up with legal and/or regulatory challenges. These range from government fines to the costs of litigation, eDiscovery, private and/or class action lawsuits, and more.

In light of these serious impacts, senior management teams must get to grips with the basics and best practices of backups.

The basics of backup

In today’s business environment, "backup" refers to the process of creating and storing digital copies of data so that the copies can be used if the original data is lost or corrupted. Organizations may back up data from servers, databases, desktops, laptops, mobile devices and more; no matter where valuable data lives, it’s important to back it up.

Traditionally, companies stored backup data using physical media and devices. These range from floppy disks, CDs, and DVDs to flash drives, hard drives, and tape. Today, many businesses are choosing to back up their data on the cloud instead. No matter what type of backup storage you choose, the backup data should be stored on a separate medium than the original data and ideally in a different location. This can be seen in backup best practice with the "3-2-1 rule" where organizations should have at least three copies of their data, stored on at least two types of media, one of which should be offsite and/or in the cloud.

While backing up data sounds like an obvious item on any IT team’s must-do list, a surprising number of organizations struggle to execute backups effectively. For instance, a recent survey found that 85 percent of organizations don’t back up their data multiple times per day. 26 percent back up once daily, 28 percent back up weekly, 20 percent back up monthly, and 10 percent don’t back up at all. Further, just 20 percent of IT professionals follow backup best practices and back up their data on both local media and the cloud. 

Even companies that do prioritise backup face some challenges. Backup systems can fail for a number of reasons, including human error, hardware failure and software failure. It’s clear that backup isn’t as simple as it sounds. With so many opportunities for failure, it’s essential to have more than one copy of your data in more than one place.

Selecting the best backup option for your organization

Data loss is devastating to organizations and can happen to any company, at any time. As a result, backup is an imperative part of any business continuity strategy. But what’s the best backup option for your business?

Many teams, and their leaders, rely on whatever has worked so far. This may be one or a combination of local storage, data center storage, and cloud solutions. Unfortunately, the stakes have risen and the status quo no longer cuts it. As the sophistication, velocity, and volume of internal and external attacks increase, organizations must ensure that their backup system can keep up. For companies today, cloud backup offers the security, resiliency, flexibility, and affordability required to keep pace with the speed of modern business. The advantages of cloud backup include cloud backup offsite; being always accessible, requiring zero maintenance and being more secure, cost-effective and reliable.

As outlined above, the need for an effective backup strategy is more important than ever for organizations. The ever-increasing risk of cyber-attacks and the need for backup systems to cope with this effectively highlights the need for senior management to make cloud backup a priority for their organization.  Hence, if senior management doesn’t take action, the repercussions after suffering a data loss without an effective backup system in place will be detrimental to the business.

Image Credit: Modella / Shutterstock

Justin Augat is Vice President of Marketing, iland

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