I imagine you have a spare car key and a spare house key. Having a backup of crucial items is often instinctive in the physical world, especially to access the things we value – so why not in the digital world too?
On World Backup Day – the day before 1 April, when pranks and more sinister scams are plenty – we should all take a minute to remember how important it is to actively and regularly backup our data to safeguard the things that matter to us and our businesses.
For the individual, the risk of not doing so could be emotional – losing your wedding or new baby photos perhaps – or disruptive to your profession, such as losing access to contacts, your CV or references. For a business, the stakes are much higher; the loss of data can be devastating and ultimately destructive.
Why might data be lost? We talk about the risk of primary data failure, a term which encompasses a range of incidents from accidentally deleting documents (we’ve all done that!) to software and hardware failure, data corruption or a cyber attack. A perennially popular method for criminals is to launch phishing emails containing malicious links that can infect a machine and a network with malware. These attacks can wipe out systems completely or hold the data to ransom until a fee is paid. Having recently backed-up copies of the lost data is your best insurance policy and will allow a business to recover from such an attack – and hopefully avoid paying a significant sum to retrieve the data from the criminals.
At Nominet, backing up is something we do continuously and rigorously. As critical national infrastructure, we take very seriously our responsibility for securing the .UK domain in the face of unpredictable and unknown threats. Having numerous and well protected backup copies of our servers and registry data – not to mention all the documents and software of all our staff – ensures that if we ever faced primary data failure, we could recover and continue as normal.
Being a country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) registry makes us unique in this country, but our methods when it comes to backing up are relevant and useful to all businesses, as well as providing guidance for the individual too. Take some time over the next few days to consider your own backup procedures – whether at home, within your own small business or a larger organisation – and ensure you are taking all the crucial steps to keep your valuables out of harm’s way. Call it a good Spring clean and safety check, if you will.
To help you, here are a few tips from the experts at Nominet:
- The ‘3-2-1’ rule is a great one to follow for businesses. Keep three copies of your backup material; store two backup copies on different storage media (i.e. a portable hard drive as well as in the cloud); and keep at least one backup copy offsite (i.e. not in your house/office). These measures reduce the likelihood of ever being without the backup data you need.
- If your data is confidential, make sure your backups are protected using encryption and/or are physically secure. For Nominet, this means protecting the buildings that house the servers as well as encrypting the data we are backing up.
- Regularly update your backup copies so that you will have current – or as close to – data if ever needed. Doing this on a weekly or monthly basis is acceptable for most businesses, while individuals might like to back-up their documents whenever they make extensive changes.
- Ensure your backup data is protected just as securely as the original data – if anything, it’s more crucial because it could be your only means of recovery.
- Actively check that you can restore files from your backup so that you know they will work as they should if you did ever need them. This offers peace of mind that your processes will actually be of benefit and are fit for purpose.
- Cloud storage is an acceptable form of back up, but make sure you use two-factor authentication to keep the data safe.
- But, be careful with cloud-syncing services because you face the risk of an infected document being automatically synced into the cloud, wiping out your ‘clean’ copy.
If you want to spread the word, feel free to share our infographic. We can all do out bit to avoid being an April fool this World Backup Day. Remember that backing up our data is one of the few ways we can create some distance between our livelihoods and personal information, and the criminals intent on stealing it.