Why backups are no good when a disaster or cyber attack hits
Backups are a part of our daily lives now. From backing up our phones to storing our treasured family photos on an external hard drive, we are all familiar with the process of backing up important data so that it can be retrieved if there is a problem with the original source.
In business too, backups are vital. But we cannot rely on backups alone in commercial settings. Backups should be seen instead as just one of the important cogs in the disaster recovery machine.
In our latest blog post we look at the vulnerabilities of relying on backups alone in the event of a disaster or cyber attack. And we explore what is involved in a comprehensive disaster recovery process, plus some easily accessible full disaster recovery solutions suitable both for large and small organisations.
Why are backups alone unreliable?
Quite simply, backups alone are not designed for mass recovery.
Nowadays, we rely heavily on technology for every aspect of our lives and our business. There is an expectation placed on businesses that our IT systems will deliver zero downtime – both externally from our customers, and internally from business leaders who understand the potential impact of crashed systems on the bottom line.
But the reality is that it can take days or even weeks to recover a complete data centre from back up systems. That’s why a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy is needed.
The impact of cyber attacks
Avid runners and fitness fans will remember the global outcry in July when services run by US GPS and fitness tracker giant Garmin were down for a number of days, including the ability to synchronise exercise data from the company’s smartwatch with the Strava smartphone app to monitor performance. For the competitive sportspeople among us, this was big deal! (“If it isn’t tracked on Strava it didn’t happen!”)
Garmin aviation services were also hit – arguably a slightly bigger deal.
The outage was blamed on ‘Wasted Locker’ – a new variant of ransomware that initially emerged back in May. Garmin reportedly paid $10 million for the decryption key, although this remains unconfirmed.
- A history of ransomware (infographic)
- How to cut your ransomware risk with these 5 simple steps
- How to protect yourself from Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) insider attacks
Backup versus disaster recovery
Disasters can be anything from power outages or natural events such as a fire or flood, through to a sophisticated ransomware attack. As we can see from the Garmin example, even large multinationals are not immune to such attacks.
When we talk about disaster recovery (DR) solutions, we are not only referring to simply having a backup but the whole process of recovery from a disaster.
There are some highly advanced backup systems around, for sure. But for the rapid recovery that is expected nowadays, you ideally need a complete DR strategy.
What is involved in DR?
While each business handles disaster recovery differently, it is often a manual process that can be labour intensive and difficult to manage.
Returning to a fully operational state involves a number of steps. These include accessing the right data through a separate infrastructure to the one that is corrupted; accessing the workloads in the correct systems and in the correct order; and failing the whole lot back to the original site while ensuring that workloads are appropriately sequenced and mapped.
Everything should be detailed in your runbook. We’ve seen both electronic and physical runbooks in use, although runbook automation (RBA) will of course allow you to pre-determine and thus speed up the whole process. Virtualised workloads are much easier to deal with than physical workloads due to their ability to be automated.
In order to access your data from another site that isn’t affected by the disaster, your backups need to be de-duplicated and stored in a steady-state in the cloud. Runbook automation will then enable their recreation in the event of a disaster. Another advantage of cloud DR is that you only pay for IT and storage when you use them, either during a test or an actual disaster.
Cloud computing has revolutionised the disaster recovery process, offering the opportunity for complete recovery at the click of a button.
- Cybersecurity crisis management: business continuity, remote working and disaster recovery during the Coronavirus pandemic
- Simple 5-step disaster recovery planning process for SMEs
- Your disaster recovery plan could be missing a vital element
There are various options for combined backup and disaster recovery, and we have tried and tested all of them. Here are the bespoke solutions that our technical experts advocate (and in some cases have contributed to the development of), here at virtualDCS.
Veeam Cloud Connect
Veeam Cloud Connect Replication helps fulfill the industry recommended 3-2-1 rule, which says that an organisation should have three copies of its data, stored on two different media types, and at least one copy stored in an off-site location.
This solution enables you to have a complete Hybrid DR plan, controlled from one central console, with customisable RPOs and RTOs. It is a simple, quick, and secure Disaster Recovery solution that can be activated as an extension of your existing Veeam software.
For a free 30-day trial with technical support and guidance, click here.
If your business uses virtualised Apple Macs, you can take advantage of a range of additional features, such as flexible graphics and video processing, but these advantages can come at a cost if you can’t protect your data.
virtualDCS is currently the only provider that offers Veeam Cloud Connect Apple Mac protection. With its custom solution, virtualDCS can now provide Apple users with seamless replication and fail-over at will, without interrupting staff or important processes. For more information and a free 30-day trial, click here.
Through our Azure SRM solution, you can replicate your on-premise VMs and more to a managed Azure platform, ensuring that your data is secure, accessible and recoverable in an off-site data centre for fast recovery period after a primary site failure.
By partnering with virtualDCS and replicating your data to an Azure platform, you can take advantage of consistent replication and data resilience. Leveraging our business continuity expertise and Azure experience you can ensure data is recoverable quickly, with custom RPO and RTO targets and a customised recovery plan.
- In-built workload replication
- Custom RPO and RTO targets
- Testing without user disruption
- Customised recovery plans
- Network integration
- Access to multiple regions on the Azure network
- Reduced capital expense -only pay for the compute resources used
- Ensured compliance with industry standards including ISO 27001
- Expert advice and guidance from our experienced team.
- No limitations – scale and protect as many applications as needed.
Our Azure SRM solution is available in the following forms:
- Replicate on-premises VMware and Hyper-V VMs and physical servers (Windows and Linux).
- Replicate on-premises VMware VMs, Hyper-V VMs and physical servers managed by System Centre VMM, to a secondary Azure site.
If you’d like to run your current disaster recovery plan by our experts, we’d be more than happy to help you identify efficiencies and fill in any gaps.
Our technical team are experts in IT infrastructure so we can help you design a bespoke solution to meet your particular business needs.
Simply contact us online or call 03453 888 327 for a free, no obligation chat in confidence.