In the midst of uncertain power schedules, interest hikes, and currency woes, business executives have their hands full. However, a strong data protection strategy – supported by regular and efficient backup systems – should be a priority.

By Ant da Silva, country manager: South Africa at Pure Storage

Given the valuable and sensitive nature of data, whether it resides in the public sector, healthcare, financial services or any other industry, businesses can’t afford to only think about backups once in a while. In fact, making time for regular backups has never been more important.

Unfortunately, ransomware continues to plague organizations. According to The State of Ransomware in South Africa 2023 report, 78% of South African organisations were struck by a ransomware attack last year. So there’s no place for a ‘it won’t happen to me’ mindset. Leaders need to be thinking of the worst case scenario and be proactive, not reactive in their plans.

While backup systems have provided an insurance policy against an attack in the past, hackers are now trying to breach these too. Once an attacker is inside an organisation’s systems, they will attempt to find credentials to immobilise backups. This will make it more difficult, more time consuming, and potentially more expensive to restore.

Key steps to protecting your data

Organisations need a two-pronged strategy to support data protection: advanced, immutable copies of their data and an ability to not just backup quickly but restore rapidly and at scale. Immutable copies are protected because they can’t be deleted, modified, or encrypted – even if an attacker gains access to sensitive data. They are also relatively easy to restore but, depending on the situation, might not be a viable option.

Traditional tape or disk-based backup can restore roughly one to two terabytes an hour. Sadly, that’s not going to cut it for most organisations, as this could lead to hours or days of downtime, which could cause immeasurable financial and reputational loss. Thankfully, some flash-based solutions can offer speeds of up to 270TB an hour and can get an organisation up and running with minimal negative impact.

Organisations must also gain a real understanding of their data. It’s important to know what internal and external policies govern its retention and draw up policies that avoid a “store everything forever” end-state. Then, these policies need to be adhered to. Leaders should also ensure that the backup and restore performance capabilities can grow in sync with the amount of data protected.

Only by doing this can organisations sustain backups for recovery, regulatory, and compliance and ransomware mitigation purposes with the growing dataset sizes that we will see in the next 5 to 10 years, especially with unstructured data.

Make backup processes quick and seamless

With a cybersecurity strategy underpinned by immutable copies and a scalable rapid restore solution, recovery from a ransomware attack can be reduced from several weeks to just a few hours. This will minimise the impact on users and customers and could avoid reputational damage suffered from being offline for a prolonged period.

It’s no longer enough to run the occasional backup and hope for the best. Data breaches and ransomware attacks are an ever-present threat to modern businesses. Fortunately, with the right partner in data protection and storage, backup day can be easily incorporated into business processes.