What are Segregated Backups?

The business ecosystem is increasingly reliant on data and the more a business’ survival depends on data, the higher the stakes. The slightest glitch can lead to data loss of epic proportions. 

When this happens, you want to ensure that your backup is intact and ready to switch your operations back into motion. One of the best strategies to guarantee this level of protection is segregated backup.

What is a segregated backup?

The word segregated means “to keep one thing separate from another”. In the context of data backup, segregated backup means backing up data to a separate location from its original storage device. This ensures that in the event of a disaster, such as a fire or theft, the backup data will not be lost along with the primary data. Segregated backup can be accomplished by using an external hard drive, cloud storage, or a separate physical location. 

For example, if you have the majority of your data in the on-prem office servers, you can use external hard drives, cloud storage, network attached storage (NAS),  or a separate physical location.

This way, if the main server is compromised, you still can access the data from the other backups. Not only does this backup strategy help mitigate data loss, it also boosts a business’ data protection framework.

Whichever method you choose, it is important to remember to periodically update the backup data to ensure that it remains current.

The importance of segregated backups

With the constant rise in cyber criminal activities including attacks from the dark web, the need for segregated backup cannot be emphasized enough. Truth be told, there is no better way to deal with threat actors than adopting a data backup strategy that allows your business to backup data at multiple locations.

Here are the key reasons why segregated backup is extremely important:

  • Segregated backup allows organizations to backup data in multiple locations: offline and online.
  • Segregated backup strengthens the security framework by becoming less vulnerable to ransomware attacks as you now have multiple data backups that can be used to restore operations.
  • Segregated backup  acts as an obstacle for cybercriminals that want to take control of all your data, thereby putting organizations in a better position to deal with a cyberattack.
  • Segregated backup allows logs to be collected from multiple systems, which enables security operation center (SOC) teams to utilize the additional intelligence to strengthen security monitoring.
  • Segregated backup  allows organizations to quickly restore data in the event of attacks or natural disasters, thereby decreasing downtime costs.

Cybersecurity companies recommend the 3-2-1 rule when implementing segregated backups.  This rule stipulates that businesses should have three (3) copies of their data, stored on two (2) different types of media, with one (1) copy stored off-site. This is a widely accepted best practice for data backup that ensures that data is protected against a range of potential hazards, including hardware failures, software glitches, and physical disasters. 

Examples of data challenges that call for a segregated backup strategy

Here are some of the most prevalent threat factors that should prompt any business to deploy segregated backup:

Natural disasters

This is something no human being has control over. A hurricane, forest fires, floods, or snowstorms can wipe out all the infrastructure you have taken years to build in one go. Picture your business losing all the valuable data that your team uses to run the company’s daily activities. It can ‘kill’ your business instantly and attract all manner of lawsuits from affected clients and partners. Many companies have found themselves here and regretted why they never implemented a comprehensive plan. That plan should include segregated backups. 

Ransomware attacks

Ransomware attacks are becoming more dreadful these days with the emergence of double extortion, where the attackers not only encrypt the data and demand ransom in exchange for  the key but also migrate it to another location where they threaten to publish it. A segregated strategy will give you enough cover against such threats and avoid paying huge ransoms.

Human error

The probability of human errors is always lurking in the corner even for the most trained employees. Many organizations grapple with cyberattacks due to avoidable human errors such as sharing sensitive information to a threat actor, deleting important data from backup files, and more. In such scenarios a segregated backup strategy can help organizations retrieve lost data and avoid falling prey to malicious cyberattacks.

Reliance on a single data backup mechanism

Your business could be at great risk if you are only relying on one backup strategy. While you can feel safe with one approach like say cloud backups, it’s always critical to think about what will happen if that single backup is compromised. A single strategy is an open invitation to catastrophe. 

On the other hand, a multi-pronged strategy that involves segregated backup alongside different kinds of backups will bolster your security posture and avert situations where backup data is lost and never to be recovered.

Best practices for segregated backups

Consider these best practices to ensure that your segregated data backup strategy is as effective as possible:

  • Ensure that your data is encrypted both at rest and in transit. This will help to prevent unauthorized access to your backups in the event that they are breached.
  • Create a comprehensive backup plan that includes regular testing and verification. This will ensure that your backups are working properly and that you can recover from a catastrophic data loss.
  • Consider using physical locations that are separate from your official premises for the offline backup. This will protect your data in the event of occurrences like theft or even a physical disaster in your premises such as a fire or floods.
  • Set the right data backup frequency to avoid losing important data in the event of data breach. Many organizations fall victim to cyber attacks because they do not set the right data backup frequency, which leads to data loss that takes a while to recover.
  • Engage a professional provider to help with the  implementation of a sound segregated backup strategy. Managed IT services companieswill advise on which data should be segregated and how to store it securely. They can also help to set up automated processes for backing up data and restoring whenever necessary. 

Quick Note: Remember that when we talk about these situations, we are not just referring to your business environment alone.  It’s also about the safety of where you keep your backups or the services you use for backup storage. If  you put all faith in your data storage provider and they happen to be hit by a natural disaster or fires, for example, and they don't have the backups in multiple locations, your business will still go down. This calls for aggressive counter checking with cloud backup providers to understand their processes. Ensure that segregated backup is one of their strategies. This is in addition to your own strategies, which again must take a segregated approach.

Final remarks

Cybercriminals have become sophisticated as they are constantly looking for new ways to exploit businesses, and they are succeeding to a large extent. Staying ahead of these criminals and being better prepared for disaster means going beyond ordinary backup solutions to incorporate segregated backups. This is the best way to isolate your backups in separate storage locations so that if one area is compromised, the other areas are still safe.

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