Data Protection Resolutions to Keep in 2021

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Click to learn more about author Sam Roguine.

We’re all guilty of making New Year’s resolutions that we don’t keep. While you only hurt yourself if you don’t stick to personal goals like drinking more water, not sticking to your data protection resolutions can result in more serious consequences. Whether it’s not keeping multiple copies of backups or allowing cloud misconfigurations to slip through the cracks, letting your data protection resolutions fall by the wayside opens the door to cyberattacks, data loss, and everything in between.

Given the significant disruption of the pandemic over the last year, it’s likely that plans for the upcoming year will look different than we’re used to — making it all that much more important to set yourself up for success now. So, what are the data protection resolutions that you need to keep?

1. Treat Your Backups as Part of Your Critical Infrastructure

Once you evolve your mindset to think of backups as being just as important as the primary copies of data, your data protection plan gets a whole lot stronger. Having backups fail is just as bad as not having them at all, so don’t hesitate to apply the same overarching policies to your backups that you do to the critical sections of your IT infrastructure.

This is particularly relevant as cybercriminals are increasingly targeting backups — especially when ransomware is involved. From a cybercrime perspective, encrypting or stealing backups is a great way for bad actors to solicit a higher payment from victims, and many ransomware gangs have even started publishing these backups online if they don’t receive their payments. The best way to avoid this is by keeping copies of your data in multiple locations to reduce the chances of malware spreading through a network to infect them. The 3-2-1 rule of keeping three copies of your data, in two separate locations, with one being either in the cloud or offsite, is a good rule of thumb.

2. Integrate Backup and Disaster Recovery with Cybersecurity

Taking a two-pronged approach to backup and cybersecurity is becoming increasingly more important, as it both reduces IT complexity and creates a stronger defense against ransomware. Complexity in IT infrastructures creates weak spots for cybercriminals, but integrating tools and processes provides better visibility and easier threat detection across all systems. If this isn’t on your list of data protection resolutions for 2021, it should be!

Combining these two key functions into one can also be more cost-efficient than running fully separate systems, which is an important consideration as COVID-19 has affected IT budgets globally. The ability to do more with less will likely be top of mind for many IT leaders this year, and centralizing data protection and security efforts into a single application can help. This both frees up IT staff to focus on more valuable initiatives and reduces the chance of a costly cyberattack affecting business.

3. Protect Your Microsoft 365 Environments

It’s 2021, so why are we still assuming that SaaS-based applications like Microsoft 365 come with built-in data protection? Considering that 56 percent of enterprises rely on Microsoft 365 to do business, it’s essential to invest in a third-party data protection solution to ensure this business-critical data is backed up properly. This is particularly relevant as remote workers depend on the ability to access this data to work anytime, from anywhere. 

Employees that work in these SaaS-based environments need access to a remote backup system that automatically backs up data without requiring manual intervention by the IT team. This will help to free up IT resources while also ensuring that data isn’t lost due to confusion around who’s in charge of data protection. It’s better to be over-prepared than end up stuck dealing with loss or downtime in the case of a cyberattack that encrypts files.

4. Review Cloud Deployments to Avoid Gaps and Misconfigurations

If your 2020 resolution was to shift more workloads to the cloud, your 2021 resolution needs to be ensuring that migration will be successful in the long run. Cloud migrations can be complex and confusing, particularly when trying to deploy a hybrid or multi-cloud environment for the first time. It’s important to understand the differences between public and private clouds and what data makes the most sense to be stored in each before making the switch.

However, that’s a lot easier said than done when companies around the world need to suddenly adapt their processes to accommodate a distributed workforce. 80 percent of enterprises have started to adopt a cloud-centric infrastructure and applications twice as fast as before the pandemic, which is no small task. Now that remote work is here to stay, companies must address the security sacrifices and potential misconfigurations that may have stemmed from the rush to make enterprise operations usable in the cloud so employees could work from home.

It’s not too late to make data protection resolutions for the year ahead. While it may be impossible to avoid downtime, cyberattacks, or data loss for an entire year, prioritizing these resolutions gives you a fighting chance. From one IT pro to another, we can hold each other accountable. What resolutions are your must-keeps for 2021?

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