Did you know that March 31 is World Backup Day? Who knew data backup was important enough to get its own day?

I didn’t until recently, which may be the case for you as well, but that’s okay. It is never too late to learn about the importance of security practices like backing up data and establishing a routine that includes said practices. But before we come up with a backup plan for our enterprises, let’s take a quick look at what prompted this day and why it’s an important reminder.

Backing up data: What does it mean and why should we do it?

Backing up your data means having one or more copies of your documents and important files in different locations and forms. It means making sure that all your data isn’t stored at a single location so that, if data at one location is compromised, it won’t lead to irretrievable loss. There are several reasons to back up data, a few of them listed below:

Ransomware attacks continue to use data as leverage to extort large sums of money from affected businesses

During the first six months of 2021, there was $590 million in ransomware-related costs to businesses, according to the ransomware trend analysis by U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. This is a major increase when compared to the $416 million in ransomware-related costs for all of 2020. Malicious actors extort organizations infected with ransomware for money in exchange for a decryption key to the encrypted data. In most cases, this can be avoided if businesses have a backup that they can install after they have cleaned out the malware-infected systems.

Fifty-one percent of data loss is due to accidents and negligence on the employee end

Forget outsiders causing data loss, a report by IT Governance states that more than half the time, data loss is caused by employee accidents. In such cases, having a backup can help maintain productivity and prevent business operations from coming to a standstill.

Hardware theft or loss also contributes to a significant amount of data loss

IT assets can be stolen or get misplaced. These instances also cause significant data loss. If your data is backed up on the cloud, it can easily be downloaded into a new device, and you’ll be good to go within minutes. Incase corporate devices hosting sensitive information are lost or stolen, ensure you have BitLocker encryption and provisions to perform corporate wipes to protect this data.

What does data backup mean to organizations?

With the increase in the use of digital resources, most if not all of our important documents are stored some kind of digital medium (computers, smartphones, cloud, to name a few). Though digitally storing data has a ton of benefits, it is also susceptible to loss and theft.

Digitally protecting your data from being misused requires both preventive and responsive measures. Especially when it comes to dealing with sensitive client information, organizations need to protect data and respond to loss or theft if it happens.

Protecting data: Securing endpoint attack surfaces

Enterprises can limit data loss and theft by employing device control, data leakage prevention, Zero Trust, and conditional access.

Device control and file access management: Monitor and control peripheral devices being connected to your network. Unauthorized use of USBs and other peripheral devices pose two significant risks: they can be used to steal sensitive data and inject malware into the network. This is why it’s imperative to have a mechanism to detect and control the use of peripheral devices. Similarly, in order to detect abnormal activities and trace breaches to the source, you need to closely track all file transfers.

Data leak prevention: Identify and categorize the sensitive data in your organization. Define protocols to deal with the access and transfer of such sensitive data. Set alerts and respond instantly to abnormalities in accessing this data that might indicate a potential breach.

Zero Trust and conditional access: Establishing a Zero Trust environment by restricting access to sensitive information or extending conditional access can limit insider attacks and accidental data losses. For instance, an intern having access to edit files containing business-critical data is unnecessary and could easily lead to accidental data loss or loss due to negligence. It is ideal to follow the principle of least privilege and keep everyone’s privileges to the minimum, with exceptions made in a case-by-case basis as needed. This way, tracking the source of a breach and fixing it becomes easy.

Incident response: Reacting to data loss and theft

According to a report by IBM, businesses that had a dedicated incident response team saved close to $2 million during a breach than businesses that did not have an incident response team. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when responding to a data-security-related incident.

Backup data religiously: Backing up data on a regular basis can help businesses avoid a lapse in productivity and thwart ransom efforts to an extent.

Best practices to taking, storing, and restoring backups:

  • Depending on your requirements, backups can be:

    • Full backups – This is a copy of everything available at the time the backup is triggered.

    • Differential backups – This is a copy of the new files and changes since the full copy. The new files created after the full backup are copied again in every following backup taken.

    • Incremental backups – This is a copy of only the new files and changes since the last backup.

  • When storing backups, make sure they are not stored on the same computer or hardware that stores the original.

  • Depending on the amount of data, you can choose the mode of storage, such as hard disks, network-attached storage, storage area network, backup servers, removable devices, SSD, and cloud storage.

  • Take full backups on a regular basis, such as on a weekly or monthly basis. You can also deploy the 3-2-1 backup strategy, that is, three copies of data stored in two different forms, and having one copy off site.

  • Store backups on the cloud or use cloud-based tools so that your work is automatically backed up.

  • Before restoring a backup, make sure your backup is not corrupted by malware and check if your network is completely wiped and formatted (in case of a ransomware attack). Once these initial checks are made, you can safely restore the backup.

 Corporate wipe: The minute you know a corporate device is missing, perform a corporate wipe. This will securely erase the sensitive corporate data contained in the device.

Damage control and recovery: In case of a ransomware attack, make sure you report the incident to the local government body for cybersecurity. If the attack affects your clients, send out a breach notification with the root cause analysis and the steps taken to prevent such attacks in the future. Check if all IT assets are compliant with your security standards and quarantine the affected systems.

ManageEngine endpoint management and security solutions that helps with data security

Desktop Central: Desktop Central offers endpoint security features such as vulnerability management, browser security, device control, application control, and BitLocker management.

Device control and application control features can be used to control external device plug-ins and stop malicious applications from injecting malware into the network.

The mobile device management module in Desktop Central can be used securely wipe sensitive data on corporate mobile devices. You can store corporate data in an encrypted container and restrict access to enterprise-approved apps and accounts. Conditional Exchange Access policies can be set that allow only authorized mobile devices to access your Exchange Server in keeping with the best practices of access management.

You can also make folder backups for your enterprise systems. Further, BitLocker management can ensure that BitLocker encryption is enabled on all applicable machines. This ensures sensitive information on stolen devices remains safe from prying eyes.

Endpoint DLP Plus: Endpoint DLP Plus is dedicated data leakage prevention software designed to safeguard sensitive data on enterprise endpoint devices. Data is protected from disclosure and theft with advanced data loss prevention strategies. It uses templates to discover sensitive data and defines protocols for the access and transfer of such data.

A free, 30-day trial is available for both of these solutions that users can try for a hands-on-experience. Let’s take this year’s World Backup Day as a reminder to fortify our networks by protecting our cyber assets and having an incident response plan in case of attacks.