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Don’t be fooled: Your cloud-based office is not as safe as you once thought

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/faithie)

For a long time now, the UK has been considered a market with a poor productivity record and stagnant growth. Businesses and governments alike have for a long time been debating the measures we should put in place to close the productivity gap once and for all. It’s been interesting over the past couple of months, to see that the firms that have quickly (or had already) adopted new and digital ways of working in response to Covid-19, have been pinned as beacons of hope for a new and more productive way of working.

The challenge here however, is that not all businesses are equipped to be productive remotely. Some organizations simply do not have the relevant infrastructure, resourcing or support in place to manage a smooth transition. Meanwhile, others who thought they did have only solved half of the problem, forgetting about some of the priorities; security, regulations and data protection. Having just celebrated  World Productivity Day on the 20th June, a day set aside for businesses to reflect upon the impact prioritization and focus can have on productivity, there is no better time than now to pause and think about what the future of work will look like based on everything we’ve learnt in the past three months. For those businesses considering making remote work a permanent feature, even when the office doors reopen, what technologies will be needed to redefine productivity as we know it? Does this mean the cloud is going to be the new office for many of us? And, if so, are we really as safe as we think we are?

Start with the basics

Whilst for all of us it can be tempting to run before you can walk, for maximum productivity, you need to get the basics right. This means that in the same way you’d equip an office with the infrastructure needed to support hundreds of employees working safely, you need to do the same for the new, virtual office. Remember, productivity isn’t just about getting as much as you can possibly get done in the fastest time possible, it’s about working smart, future proofing infrastructure, and setting the organization up for success.

A cloud-based office is the perfect platform, when managed correctly, for storing data in separate and secure locations. In fact, when it comes to scalability, security and capability, there is no other infrastructure that can meet the cloud’s capabilities. For your cloud office, I’d recommend ensuring you work with an independent vendor, like AWS, to host on an independent OS. This is because with end-to-end encryption, it is possible to put some space between your critical backups and potential cyber-attacks or ransomware that could look to target your server or cloud-based systems.

But, more often than not, when it comes to the cloud, many organizations make the mistake of storing data in the same service and OS that operates core aspects of their business, such as Microsoft Office365. The whole point of backing up data is to ensure that a duplicate source of this data is available should a primary version be compromised. We’ve all felt the panic and heartbreak of losing an important file. There is nothing worse than going to access a file, only to find it no longer exists, and you don’t have a backup available to restore from.  Therefore, by storing data on a separate OS and in a different, unconnected location, it is possible to keep it, and thus your organization, protected. 

Safety first

There is a common misconception in the business world that deploying Microsoft Office365 is the perfect solution to keeping data secured safely and remotely, because it sits ‘in the cloud’. Contrary to popular opinion, this is a dangerous and incorrect mindset. Office365 as a platform, arguably contains some of the most significant data protection gaps that IT professionals are tasked with handling. A robust backup solution should get the basics right; it should automate backups regularly with runbook execution for rapid recovery, offer capabilities to safeguard business continuity and support processes to meet compliance requirements. 

There have been many examples of cyber-attacks over the past couple of months, with many hackers looking to take advantage of the situation we currently find ourselves in. For attack victims, files often end up corrupted or deleted – often mission critical ones. In applications like Office365, if your files get deleted, your IT team is forced to manually recover each individual file, a laborious task that by no means enhances workplace productivity. While the suite provides tools that can support in protecting against these types of attacks, they are actually more focused on stopping the attacks in the first place as opposed to assisting in recovering from the damage caused following an attack.

This means that as you look to support a remote workforce in the cloud, you are very likely opening yourself to risk by simply trusting your data to Office365. As businesses face increased risk of cyber-attack and ransomware threats in this new working world, organizations need reassurance that processes are in place to easily and rapidly recover files, no matter what the cause of the failure might be.

An attack of any organizations’ systems can be catastrophic, let alone cause a huge volume of stress, worry and work for those responsible for repairing the damage. As more businesses look to redefine what the new ‘office’ is going to look like, we recommend taking a step back to first understand what your priority is. For those thinking about embracing cloud-based services to support their remote workers, it is vital that security is at the forefront of the agenda. With the power, security and reliability of the right cloud service, you can not only save your employees a lot of time and stress, but, in the long run, you can play your part in shaping a more productive workforce for the future.

Nick Turner, VP EMEA, Druva

Nick Turner is the VP EMEA at Druva.