Protecting your critical business data has never been more important, but for South Africans this can prove challenging in the face of an ever-evolving environment including digital transformation, cyber threats, and national disasters.

By Aslam Tajbhai, head of solutions at Data Management Professionals (DMP) SA

Adding to complexity, many businesses have legacy on-premises solutions, so the data landscape leans ttowards ahybrid of a local data centre and private and public cloud. To safeguard data regardless of where it resides and in the face of today’s unpredictable challenges, it is essential to adopt the right solution that enables your data to be protected against outages and rising cybercrime, without compromising accessibility.

Risk with reward

As digital transformation accelerates, businesses need to leverage numerous benefits, from enhanced efficiency and greater agility to entirely new technological advancements that were simply not possible in the past, but these also come with higher risks.

Data has become so valuable that any incident that threatens it could have catastrophic repercussions for a business. These threats are not just isolated to a surge in cybercrime, but also includes exfiltration, encryption, leakage and/or damage to data and increased liability for the protection of data and information.

Businesses are also struggling to keep the lights on during the energy crisis amid the rising cost of living, and natural disasters like severe weather events, flooding, tornados and more, all pose a threat to data. To mitigate the risk of data loss during loadshedding, cloud-based backup and recovery solutions have become essential, but this alone is not sufficient for complete data protection.

Best practices: The 3-2-1 approach

South Africa is experiencing a dramatic increase in cybercrime and, according to the Sophos State of Ransomware Report 2023, the country has the highest number of ransomware and email attacks in Africa. In addition, 78% of South African organisations were struck by a ransomware attack, up from 51% in 2022, and 93% of ransomware attacks attempted to destroy backup data.

Ransomware can lie dormant in your environment for months undetected and the target of an attack is often the backup data, in addition to production.

This makes recovery difficult unless you have a solution in place that includes multiple layers of security and ransomware protection on the backup environment as well. Businesses need a secure, off site, immutable copy of backup data in line with best practice data protection guidelines of three, two, one – three copies of data, two different mediums or devices and one copy off site.

This means if data is ever compromised, there is always a secure and unaltered copy available to restore from.

Overcoming skills shortages

South Africa faces a significant and widening skills gap in the information technology sector, and especially when it comes to data management. This makes it difficult to effectively protect and manage data in-house, because skilled backup resources are extremely scarce and costly. It is also difficult to ensure that they stay with an organisation, that they maintain their skill sets in line with the evolving threat landscape, and that business continuity is not affected.

Finding a partner that can provide a fully managed service for your backup requirements is a solution that just makes sense currently. Not only does this ensure you have access to a pool of skilled resources who are dedicated to maintaining and upgrading their skill sets, it is also a cost-effective option that is more economical than handling in-house. Outsourcing to a fully manged backup and data management service provider allows you to focus on other critical aspects of your business while your data is effectively taken care of.

Protection in the cloud

To protect from the threats facing organisations today it is important to leverage proven data protection. An easy-to-use, cloud native platform, allows businesses to take advantage of best-in-class data protection without the large upfront cost of hardware and the ongoing maintenance costs associated with it.

A cloud-native solution can be spun up in minutes, managed remotely and dynamically scaled to meet changing requirements without costly data egress fees. Modern data solutions ideally should also offer a unified management view to effectively manage distributed environments with data across cloud workloads, virtual machines, databases, endpoints and on premises workloads.

A consolidated solution for all data protection needs, including meeting retention and compliance requirements and safeguarding data from deletion and attack, is vital for any business to confidently meet their strategic objectives.