Cybersecurity Awareness Month: A Reminder to Back Up Data

Do all you can to prevent a cyberattack – but also be prepared to recover data if an attack occurs.

The theme of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, October 2022, is “See Yourself in Cyber.” It encompasses encouraging individuals to adopt cybersecurity best practices, urging people planning their careers to consider cybersecurity, and building private-public partnerships to protect critical infrastructure. However, what’s not explicit in the announcement from The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) about cybersecurity awareness – but is still crucial to every security strategy – is data backup and recoverability.

Storage Media Makes a Difference

Steve Santamaria, CEO of Folio Photonics, comments, “While from IT to the C-suite, it is agreed that the possibility of a cyberattack poses a highly dangerous threat, many would admit that they are probably ill-prepared to fully understand and address all of the threats, in all of their forms, today and in the years ahead.”

Brian Dunagan, Vice President of Engineering at Retrospect, a StorCentric Company, says, “CyberSecurity Awareness Month is a great reminder that we must remain vigilant and always be thinking about how to handle the next wave of cyberattacks.”

Santamaria says a multi-pronged strategy is the most common approach to protecting business networks, systems, and data. Businesses and organizations rely on security software, malware detection, and remediation. However, it also must include backup and recovery solutions. Cyberattacks can result in lost or corrupted data – or data held for ransom, necessitating a quick, effective, reliable way to restore mission-critical data.

Traditionally, storage for resilience in a world filled with cyberthreats has meant backup to hard disk or tape. However, although those media have their advantages, both have relatively short lives and can be overwritten. Today’s optical storage has the benefits of hard disk and tape, but with enterprise-scale, can provide the storage and recoverability that businesses and organizations need.

“Such a next-generation storage media offers the promise of radically reducing upfront cost and TCO while making data archives active, cybersecure, and sustainable, not to mention impervious to harsh environmental conditions, radiation, and electromagnetic pulses, which are now being commonly used in cyber-warfare,” Santamaria says.

Unbreakable Backups

Backing up is key, but it’s also vital to protect backups and replicas. Surya Varanasi, CTO of StorCentric, says, “Today, the process of backing up has become highly automated. But now, as ransomware and other malware attacks continue to increase in severity and sophistication, we understand that proper cyber hygiene must include protecting backed-up data by making it immutable and eliminating any way that data can be deleted or corrupted.”

An ”unbreakable backup” uses an object-locked format and increases security by storing administrative keys in a separate location. Varanasi says unbreakable backups should include policy-driven data integrity checks “that can scrub the data for faults and auto-heal without any user intervention.”

Dunagan adds, “A backup solution that includes anomaly detection to identify changes in an environment that warrants the attention of IT is a must. Administrators must be able to tailor anomaly detection to their business’s specific systems and workflows, with capabilities such as customizable filtering and thresholds for each of their backup policies. And those anomalies must be immediately reported to management and aggregated for future machine learning or analyzing purposes.”

“Of course, the next step after detecting the anomaly is providing the ability to recover in the event of a successful ransomware attack. This is best accomplished with an immutable backup copy of data,” he says.

Be Prepared

A solid strategy of backups and replicas can’t prevent a cyberattack, but it can provide the assurance that your systems and data are recoverable if an attack or other disaster occurs. Unfortunately, research for Veeam’s 2022 Data Protection Trends report reveals that only 36 percent of companies say at least 80 percent of their data was recoverable after a ransomware attack. Furthermore, only 25 percent use automated workflows to test backups prior to an event to ensure they’re recoverable.

This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, do all you can to educate your team and users about cybersecurity best practices that can help prevent a cyberattack. But also strategize with your team about your response if an attack occurs – including how to restore the systems and data you need to recover as quickly as possible.

Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is a cofounder of Managed Services Journal and DevPro Journal.

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Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is a cofounder of Managed Services Journal and DevPro Journal.