With data storage and transfer capacity increasing rapidly, the digital threats continue to mount. This has prompted organizations and companies around the world to turn their attention to data backup. But data protection is proving a bigger challenge than anticipated with sophisticated attacks breaching even the most efficient backup processes. To prevent data loss and strengthen backups, businesses must first understand the problem. And what better way to start than familiarizing oneself with the lesser-known threats. After all, it takes just one small oversight for hackers to gain access to precious information.
1. Stop treating recycle bin as a sustainable mode of data backup
A recent study found almost 66 percent of Office 365 admins using the recycle bin as a backup option. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a foolproof method and makes your backup data even more accessible to malicious entities browsing the local desktop. Your system’s recycle bin does not possess the same security features as the backup system, leaving your backup susceptible to ransomware and other active threats. And, of course, you may empty the recycle bin without thinking and there goes your “backup.”
2. Do not skip data backups — not even once
Shockingly, 81 percent of admins fail to back up their system data frequently. Ideally, real-time business processes and data backups must remain online and ready for access to cope with natural disasters or breaches. Without frequent backups — and frequent tests to make sure you can restore the data — your organization might be leaving the door open for data loss or compromise in the event of a disaster.
3. Pay close attention to the data backup process
Entire business operations depend on data, and in the event of a catastrophe, a successful backup ensures that the information is not impacted or compromised. That’s why backing up data should be high on your list of priorities instead of an afterthought. Do not make the mistake of placing data backup maintenance and prevention on the back-burner. It could expose your organization to a variety of external threats, specifically threats that target the data backups.
For example, improved efforts to strengthen the existing backup processes have led cybercriminals to improve their own tactics, targeting backup tools and processes, including the Time Machine for Mac OS or shadow copies for Microsoft OS. The worst part is, even if the victim of a ransomware hack pays the required amount, there is no guarantee the attacker will not decrypt the backup data or destroy it. So, improving your data backup is the only way to nip these issues in the bud.
4. Never store backup systems in the same network operating environment
Yes, having your data backups on the same digital environment is less time-consuming and more convenient. But it also heightens your risk, and that is not something you can afford. So, avoid running your backups on general-purpose servers like the whole network operation environment. This way, you can strengthen your defenses and prevent any harm from befalling your precious data. Keep in mind that the same applies for on-premises backup systems. In the event of a malicious or natural disaster, on-premises data backups can become totally inaccessible.
5. Know the risks of frequently visited websites
It’s a fact: Malware is present on many of the websites visited by your employees, and it’s only a matter of time before your network is attacked. This technique, dubbed “watering holes” by the IT crowd, involves attackers compromising sites in the hopes of distributing malware to the unsuspecting demographic.
For instance, the website of a local café might be affected, with hackers embedding digital threats in the establishment’s downloadable menu. Or they might simply infect the email alerts sent to customers. So it is extremely important to implement the correct web application firewall and email security resources. At the same time, make sure you inform your employees and increase their awareness of these active phishing threats on frequently visited websites through seminars and training.
6. Beware of the ‘long con’
Several kinds of malware exist, but the most problematic is, of course, the advanced persistent threats (APTs). If successful, these attacks enable hackers and other malicious entities to spy on company activities for an undetermined length of time. During one such search, the attacker might hit the motherlode and stumble upon data essential to the company’s operations. And once an attacker figures out what’s important, they will not hesitate to make copies of data and destroy the backup on your system. So, tracking, updating, and cleaning up the backup is a must.
7. What you need to know about mobile devices and home networks
Home networks usually have lax security compared to the workplace. As a result, the modern trend of working anywhere, anytime, from any device can cost a company its data backup. Why? Because while helpful, external networks and mobile devices aren’t always secured properly and could attract the attention of malicious entities. Even worse, a lot of employees are averse to applying the same level of corporate security to their personal wearables and mobile devices. Thus, almost any device connected to a corporate network can be a prime target for a digital attack.
Backups are normally the last line of defense organizations have against digital attacks. Once the hackers destroy the backups, you will be held hostage. So you need to step up your game and perform more than a simple backup. You must safeguard the backup using the following methods:
- Back up your data offsite: Make sure your data backups get stored separately from the production data. This will help prevent entities with access to local data from accessing the backups too.
- Use multifactor authentication: Select backup tools that find critical operations and implement multifactor authentication for extra security.
- Use encryption: Encrypt the backup data both at the time of transit to the offsite location as well as when it is at rest. Safely store the passphrases in a secure area, not on the same site as the production information.
- Enable alerts: Make sure notifications get sent during key operations that impact the availability of the data backups.
- Be careful about deleting: Keep the backup products for a minimum period even when the deletion request comes from an authenticated source.
Backing up your data has become a lot more complicated in recent times thanks to new threats that are emerging and compromising the backups themselves. However, paying close attention and understanding the lesser-known threats makes it easier to deal with them.
Featured images: Shutterstock