There is a functional difference between using the cloud to store data, and using it to back up your business’ data according to best practices. While you are technically “storing” your data when you back it up, that is the only similarity between them. Knowing the difference is critical to keeping your data safe and recoverable.
As the importance of having a safe and secure backup increasingly becomes top-of-mind due to the rash of ransomware attacks and other threats looming over businesses, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how your business is protecting its data, and what the recovery process looks like. Businesses in the know understand how valuable their backup is in protecting their operations and, as such, have embraced best backup practices, such as the 3-2-1 method.
Central to the 3-2-1 method is the need to have two copies of your data backed up to different media types, one of which should be the cloud. The cloud has become ubiquitous when thinking about storing and sharing data, mainly due to the influx and increase of the remote workforce. As such, many businesses have increased their use of the cloud for communication, collaboration, and file storage.
A side effect of cloud storage's increased use to store data has been the misunderstanding of what cloud storage was designed to do and how to apply the cloud to your business’ data backup needs. Here is a better understanding of using the cloud for storage and how it differs from using the cloud as a backup.
Cloud storage is designed to store and share files easily from devices such as your laptop to online storage platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or other cloud storage options. Cloud storage is a way to inexpensively gain additional storage space without investing in a physical hard drive. One way to think of cloud storage is as a virtual hard drive you can access from anywhere. As it is virtual, you can increase the amount of storage you need as you need it.
Cloud storage is well-suited for team and client communication, as it is a fast and efficient method to share information. However, cloud storage is usually focused on individual devices; each team member is responsible for maintaining their devices and uploads.
Cloud storage isn’t really designed for massive archives of data. Sure, a cloud storage account can hold several terabytes of information, but these systems are designed to give you quick access to a few files at a time. They aren’t designed to let you upload all of your data at once or download all of your data at once as you need it. This is a slow, arduous process.
Cloud backup, also known as online backup or hosted backup, is designed according to backup best practices. As such, the cloud operates differently than it would if you were to use it merely as additional storage space or to share files. The primary feature that separates cloud backup from cloud storage is file versioning. The primary feature any dedicated backup service should provide is the ability to maintain distinct versions of files.
Unlike copying or syncing files to your cloud storage drive, which can overwrite your files (sometimes even if you request that it doesn’t), your cloud backup’s file versioning keeps all versions of your files intact. This is critical because, in the case of a ransomware attack, file versioning will allow you to recover a clean (uninfected) version of your data from an earlier point before the ransomware took root in your system.
This clean version of your data is the lifeline cybercriminals seek to deny you when they gain control of your system. Remember, the first thing a ransomware attack will seek to do is encrypt all the data that can be found, including onsite backups, preventing you from recovering your data. Cybercriminals understand that if they can deny you a backup, you have little option but to either pay them to release your data or lose the data in its entirety.
Finally, cloud backup is a technology designed for professional use, as opposed to cloud storage, which is designed more with the end-user in mind. While there are enterprise-level solutions, the majority of the time, your team’s cloud solutions will limit what they can do. That said, there’s nothing inherently wrong with cloud storage solutions—businesses thrive on using them every day. They just aren’t designed to be your backup.
Professional-level cloud backup providers also offer encrypted data transfers both ways, reducing the chance that a bad actor will be able to intercept your data.
Additionally, your provider will also be following best practices when backing up your data. This means not only will you have timed-stamped versions of your information, but they will have redundancies built-in to keep your data secure and recoverable in case they suffer a loss.
Your backup is your primary cybersecurity tool to protect the data your business depends on. Fortunately, it is easier than ever to find a partner who can help your business develop a data backup and recovery plan that works for you. As South Dakota’s cybersecurity expert, KT Connections understands that many smaller companies may feel that they don’t have anything worth a cybercriminal's attention. Unfortunately, that is not true.
Ransomware attacks aren’t slowing down. In fact, by all indications, they are on the increase and will only rise in intensity as businesses continue to increase their reliance on technology to remain competitive. No Rapid City business is immune from being targeted, as the healthcare sector, manufacturers, and even schools have been victims of ransomware attacks.
Never forget, businesses without a BDR who lose their data, often find themselves out of business within six months. Your data is your biggest asset, and its loss can be a critical blow to your business. If you don’t have a backup plan in place, you have to ask yourself, will you be in business six months from now?
It’s time to take cybersecurity seriously, and the first step is scheduling a cybersecurity assessment today. Call 888-891-4201 to speak with one of our cybersecurity experts and begin your path to better data security. We also offer a wide-range of cloud computing services which will allow your business to better compete against larger enterprise-sized businesses, by giving you access to the same technology.