Data Protection: Stretching Beyond the Data Security Horizon

A Data breach is one of the gravest threats that organisations face today. Time and again, data breaches and cyberattacks have rattled the industry. Whenever IT security experts have responded to these threats, hackers have proved to be a step ahead of them, often finding a way to circumvent new security measures. IT Security teams need to understand that data protection involves more than just beefing up the organisation’s security measures. It is also about realising that no matter what, a hacker somewhere, will be a step ahead of them and will find a way to get into the data records. The question that needs to asked is by companies is are we prepared to get our data back if it is compromised?

The importance of having a disaster recovery strategy

“It doesn’t matter how hard you get hit, it matters how fast you get up” -Anonymous

A disaster recovery plan works on this idea, outlining the organisation’s strategy in the event of a data breach. The focus of a disaster recovery strategy is to mitigate the damage caused due to a cyberattack and resume operations swiftly. An effective Disaster Recovery (DR) plan addresses data loss concerns that arise due to natural and man-made disasters.

DR strategies go beyond just helping businesses reduce downtime. Over the years, DR plans have evolved, and focus on helping limit liabilities. Operating without a DR plan in today’s highly disruptive and chaotic business environment would be like entering a burning building without adequate protection; the business is bound to get burned.

Data backup best practices

The first step of any DR plan involves outlining data backup protocols. To ensure data can be recovered easily and swiftly, organisations follow what is known as a 3-2-1 rule. The rule suggests that businesses store at least three copies of their data, of which two must be stored on different types of media and one with a cloud service provider.

The next best practice involves taking backups at regular intervals. The backup frequency may vary depending on the business’s unique needs and the industry it operates in. The rule of thumb states that backup must be taken every 24 hours.

If your processes and tools are archaic or are fast falling out of favour, following these best practices alone will not help you prepare for the impending storm. To ensure your business is ready to take the bull by the horns, it is imperative that you test your tools regularly.

DR best practices

When designing a DR plan, you need to be aware of a few important terms:

Workload Prioritisation
When moving data to a DR location, you need to understand the priority levels of your applications. Needless to say, the most critical workloads must take precedence over the less critical ones.

Recovery Point Objective
Simply put, RPO defines the age of data to be recovered. Expressed backwards in time, RPO can be specified in seconds, minutes, hours or days. For most businesses, a four-hour RPO is a threshold beyond which they start falling apart.

Recovery Time Objective
RTO is the time taken for a business to restore operations after a disaster. To keep your RTO to a minimum, look for advanced software. Loaded with intuitive features, these solutions can help you bring your RTO down to as low as one minute per machine.

Storage Agnostic
Agnostic, in IT context, means any solution that is interoperable among different systems. When choosing a service provider, make sure they provide storage agnostic solutions, which will help you avoid the headache of maintaining parity between their and your processes.

Testing and Failback
When choosing a solution, make sure you can test it frequently. Look for a software with a failure mechanism that can help mitigate damage and recover data swiftly. Test the solution at least once every four months.