Almost nine in 10 organisations in South Africa have suffered a ransomware attack, with a third of the data unable to be recovered.

By Chris Norton, regional director: Africa at Veeam Software

High-profile data breaches always grab the headlines, but often the damage is far deeper than just an organisation’s reputation. It can have very serious consequences that affect the bottom line, or – especially if it is a public entity – its ability to deliver vital services to its customers.

The benefits of cloud computing are countless, not least the ability with modern platforms to ensure that data is adequately protected and recovered quickly, thereby minimising downtime. In fact, they revealed that 67% of South African organisations are already using cloud services as part of their data protection strategy. This percentage is encouraging even though it should be higher, but by all accounts, our experience on the ground shows that this number will continue to rise.

However, there are also entities, such as a local government office – which recently had a high-profile breach where hardware was stolen and then recovered – that have some way to go in their migration to the cloud. We must therefore be clear: going from physical servers into the cloud does not eradicate crime. Where an organisation that saves all its data on-premise might be the victim of a physical break-in, an organisation with data in the cloud faces numerous cyber threats.

Cybercrime is well-documented, both here and abroad, but when one understands the extent to which it affects businesses, the urgency of building strategies to prevent and deal with it becomes apparent. The Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2022 uncovered that 86% of South African organisations suffered ransomware attacks, making cyber-attacks one of the single-biggest causes for downtime for the second consecutive year.

Take a moment to consider that statistic. Almost nine in 10 organisations in our country have suffered a ransomware attack. This urgency is heightened further when we consider that the report also found that per attack, organisations were unable to recover 31% of their lost data on average, while 78% were unable to recover at least some of the data they had lost.

If this were not enough to cause sleepless nights in the C-suite, it’s not just crime that presents a challenge. Human error remains a massive risk. The Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2022 found that over and beyond the threat of cyber-crime, 49% of organisations reported accidental deletion, and overwriting of data or data corruption as a primary cause of IT outages. Human error can occur in a physical or virtual workplace.

There is a pressing need for organisations that are not yet in the cloud to accelerate their cloud strategies as it presents the best, and arguably only, way for them to recover data quickly – in addition to the efficiencies that would be unlocked from a business and service perspective.

However, when they are in the cloud, data protection and recovery should be fundamental to Modern Data Protection. It should underpin their cloud strategy, even when using third-party solutions such as Microsoft 365. It is the responsibility of each organisation to protect and back up its own data.

A modern data protection strategy is solid prevention against sinister attempts to hold an organisation to ransom or attempts to delete data for nefarious purposes, as well as providing a safety net for accidental deletion caused by staff.

Beyond security and data compliance, which is increasingly vital given the complex nature of organisational ecosystems and information flows, a Modern Data Protection strategy can be the bridge from traditional IT to cloud-native computing.

From legacy systems to hybrid-cloud, multi-cloud, containers – and the myriad applications running across them – a vendor-agnostic, infrastructure blind and future-proof solution can enable public bodies to cost-effectively modernise their service delivery and improve their customer, end-user and staff experiences.