Should you use on-premise or cloud backup and recovery services to protect against threats like ransomware?

Having an effective backup and recovery plan is an essential part of any company’s data protection and IT Security strategy. This is an essential last resort that can be implemented in the event of catastrophic, irretrievable data loss, such as from a major hardware failure, natural disaster, user error or – increasingly – from criminal actions.

In particular, threats such as ransomware have made effective backup systems more important than ever before, especially in an era when almost no business can operate fully without constant access to digital data.

According to research from Sophos, more than half of organisations worldwide (51%) have been hit by such an attack in the last year, and almost three-quarters of ransomware incidents resulted in data being encrypted.

While 94 per cent of businesses did eventually get their data back, this was largely due to having effective recovery processes in place. More than half of businesses (56 per cent) retrieved their data thanks to backups, while just 26 per cent got back up and running after paying a ransom.

This highlights the importance of backups as part of a strong data protection plan. But how should firms go about this? There are a few options available, so you should familiarise yourself with the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

On-premise solutions

The most traditional form of backups is to use an on-premise backup solution, either at the business’ primary data centre or at a remote off-site location. If you are going down the on-premise route, off-site is typically a much better option as it can protect you from issues such as natural disasters as well as attacks like ransomware.

One of the benefits of this approach is you have total control over exactly how you manage your backups. This also keeps your critical data in-house and completely separated from any external access, which may be an important consideration for some businesses with especially sensitive or highly-regulated data.

On the other hand, it requires a capital investment in the necessary storage hardware and infrastructure, while you’ll also need to manage it carefully to ensure the backups are up-to-date and complete, whereas cloud services often offer automated tools for this.

Cloud backup

The alternative is to host your backups in the cloud. Sending this data to a third-party provider can be useful for small and fast-growing businesses, as there’s no upfront cost and you can add capacity as and when it’s needed.

The cloud also offers fast backups that can be initiated from any device. With the right tools, you can be up and running again in minutes rather than hours or days

Cloud backups aren’t just for data stored on-premises. As more IT operations move to being cloud-first or cloud-only, backups are essential for these services.

Indeed, Sophos noted that 59 per cent of ransomware attacks target data in the public cloud, highlighting how cybercriminals are now targeting data wherever it is stored.

Therefore, cloud-to-cloud backup services that can connect directly to tools like Office 365 and provide complete backups that are separated from the primary service will be hugely useful in protecting this data.

For some businesses, the security of cloud services may be a concern that makes them wary of the cloud, but they are now a primary option for many firms and breaches that are inherently down to the technology remain few and far between. In fact, figures from Gartner estimate that through to 2025, 99 per cent of cloud security incidents will be the fault of the customer rather than the cloud service itself.

Cloud solutions do, however, require you to maintain a strong internet connection with the cloud backup services at all times, while you may need to prioritise what data you backup in order to ensure a fast recovery.

What about virtual environments?

It’s not just data itself you need to think about when planning for backups and recovery. If you’re running virtual environments, these also need to be protected from threats.

With the right solutions, you need to be able to spin up backup virtual machines instantly in the cloud to ensure your downtime is kept to a minimum. The speed at which advanced cloud services can do this is often much quicker than anything an on-premises solution could achieve.

Whichever solution you opt for to protect against data loss, it’s vital you’re able to recover information and applications quickly and accurately, with the minimum of downtime. And with threats such as ransomware growing all the time, this is not an area any firm can afford to overlook.

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