Integrating modern data protection into the normal cycle of business is one of the best things you can do for your organization. But where do you start? That is the question. This article aims to provide you with a practical framework to improve your enterprise data protection.
Start off by doing a data protection assessment of all your company’s data sources. You should profile all of your data. Each dataset brings a different value to the company. Before you make storage and protection decisions, you must know which category each piece falls into – and the value level it either provides or could cost the business. You need to figure out what to protect and how to protect it. This analysis should span across both primary and secondary storage.
On the primary storage front, you’d be smart to do an analysis of the data, determine what data needs to be encrypted and what doesn’t, and figure out how the protection needs to keep your company in compliance, especially if your company is in a regulated market. On the secondary storage front, you need to figure out what to do from a replication/snapshot perspective for disaster recovery and business continuity.
Data security must go hand-in-hand with cyber resilience. Data needs to be air-gapped, including logical air gapping and immutable snapshot technologies. Logical air gapping creates a gap between the source storage and the immutable snapshots, while remote air gapping sends data to a remote system.
Then you need the capability to create a fenced forensic environment (an isolated network). The fenced forensic environment provides a safe location to provide forensic analysis of backup datasets to identify a copy of the data that is free from malware or ransomware and can be safely restored – this copy is often referred to by storage and backup administrators as “a known good copy.”
Immutable snapshots allow for rapid recovery from cyberattacks and ensure that the copies of the data cannot be altered, deleted, or edited in any way. This provides assurance of the integrity of the data. At the same time, you should use a system that can accelerate the recovery time to a matter of minutes, not hours or days.
Together, immutable snapshots, air gapping, a fenced forensic environment, and rapid recovery time bring a much-needed new level of enterprise-grade cyber resilience to an organization.
Stan Wysocki, President at Mark III Systems, a North American IT solution provider, noted: “What I’m most excited about is providing our customers a comprehensive storage-based ransomware solution that combines air-gapped immutable snapshots with an automated fenced-in network to determine safe recovery points, and then delivering near-instantaneous recovery.”
Because modern data protection improves testing, you should determine how to use snapshots, replicas, and backup for DevOps and software developers, while still keeping control. To maintain control, you need to delineate all of your processes. You also need to know how to handle compliance, especially with archived data.
When a security incident happens, it is recommended to look at it holistically. The following are some simple steps to keep in mind:
- Make sure the primary storage is clean.
- Pinpoint a known good copy of the data and your backup datasets, which is frankly easier said than done, but it’s important.
- Set up a fenced forensic environment.
- Do a recovery into that fenced network for your analysis of the data so you can identify the “known good copy.”
- Make sure there is no ransomware or malware on the data before you execute your final recovery to your production servers and storage infrastructure.
- Recover the data.
- Then continue the process for all your appropriate datasets.
Since a company’s datasets have differing levels of value, many turn to scalable data protection to protect their most valuable assets at the appropriate level, which keeps storage more affordable. Because properly protecting and backing up data falls under operating expenses (OPEX), businesses must always be mindful of costs.
The value of data just in the enterprise space is trillions of dollars, and you cannot allow it to fall into the wrong hands or allow an attack on it to cripple the business. It’s no wonder why the World Economic Forum named cybersecurity as one of their top five priorities.
The right data protection and cyber resilience can mean the difference between staying in business and going bankrupt. It all starts with making storage a part of your corporate cybersecurity strategy.
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