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The Roaring 20s: Evaluating the real impact of accelerated remote protection

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/deepadesigns)

 The 31st of March has come and gone, and people around the world are only now recovering from the celebration of the tenth anniversary of World Backup Day. After the chaos of the past year, IT teams deserve recognition.

The start to the roaring 2020s has hardly been a party for IT. Over the past 12 months, organizations have accelerated their remote workforce support, digital transformation journeys, and migration to the cloud. Now, however, the resulting data and application sprawl has placed new pressure on IT teams to protect and secure data against rising cyber threats.

Cyber threats are the new normal  

According to our recent survey, 73 percent of IT leaders feel more concerned about protecting their data from ransomware. Ransomware attacks are on the rise and expected to cost $6 trillion in damages this year alone, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. 

Malicious actors have been taking advantage of outdated and vulnerable systems not built or designed to manage a 100 percent digital workforce. Just as IT has begun to adjust to remote work, the environment is about change again.

Restless employees in the UK are now counting down the days to the 21st of June when restrictions are lifted. Many of us will soon be working in hybrid environments or embracing a flexible work-from-anywhere lifestyle. With a few months of lead time, IT organizations need to prepare for a new onslaught of attacks.

Prioritizing data protection  

Businesses are starting to think about how to protect a hybrid workforce. Those that excel will recognize the new security gaps and take steps to protect themselves. 

Over the past year, organizations have depended on endpoints and cloud-based collaboration tools like Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and Google Workspace. Initially, as many businesses surged the deployment of SaaS applications, data protection was an afterthought. Unfortunately, the new deployments became prime targets for an almost inevitable cyber attack. 

Successful teams installed protection to safeguard distributed data against the increasing risks. They deployed a robust backup architecture that enables rapid data recovery with agility and confidence, while also tying into their overall security architecture. 

Shifting to hybrid will bring new threats to businesses. Endpoints have been the primary target for cybercriminals, since users are the biggest security exposure. While organizations have tried to minimize the exposure of endpoints to the core of the business, users will now bring their laptops back into the core network at the office. Hybrid workers are bringing enthusiasm and teamwork back to the office. Unfortunately, they’ll also be bringing malware.

To prepare for the long term,  you need to employ an approach to data resiliency that includes detection, remediation, and recovery. This will be vital in maintaining business operations for the long term; relying on just prevention measures is no longer sufficient. 

The data backup evolution 

To get ahead of the game, businesses should ensure their backup and data protection practices have evolved with the times. Three key principles to consider include:

Protection for ALL of your data

In previous years, the data center was a room full of wires, colourful lights, and deafening fans. But, today and in the future, the data center is wherever your employees are. Your staff creates, stores, and transfers large volumes of critical information from their laptops and mobile phones. SaaS applications hold some of your most critical data. Cloud-native applications spring up almost daily. Meanwhile, your VMs, databases and NAS servers still hold the organizational crown jewels. Business-critical data is everywhere, and an endpoint, cloud, or SaaS application breach is just as damaging today as a data center breach was a decade ago.

You need to adopt a holistic data protection approach that offers full visibility across the entire data environment. With the need for agility, companies cannot manage a unique solution for each environment. Therefore, you need a solution that spans data centers, endpoints, SaaS applications, and the cloud. This approach ensures that whether an employee is at home or in the office, the data needed for their job is accessible and secure.

Keeping the business compliant  

Data regulations are changing all the time. GDPR is just the beginning. We expect new or modified regulations in the next one to two years, especially focused around managing employee health and fitness information. To comply with evolving regulations, organizations will need to verify that they are securing and deleting user information. 

Cloud data protection provides the flexibility to adapt to new regulations. Cloud-based search of backup data can cost-effectively meet privacy regulations because it can scale up and down its resource usage. More importantly, SaaS solutions can leverage centralized legal expertise to help thousands of customers that cannot afford to support themselves independently.

Protecting distributed applications  

Since applications are increasingly distributed, all organizations are challenged with protecting more than just data. By taking an application-centric approach to data protection, you’ll be able to recover your applications, and the metadata associated with them. The benefit here is the ability to recreate a single workflow should an error occur. Without insights into the applications, it is unlikely you’ll be able to do this. 

The IT landscape will continue to evolve and become more complex. For example, as organizations adopt AI/ML, they will also need to be able to reproduce results for auditors and legal cases, which means that both applications and data must be protected and recovered.

You must ensure your data protection and management strategies address today’s changing needs and provide the flexibility and future-proofing to support tomorrow’s opportunities. This includes a well-architected protection solution that can give you the flexibility to evolve with confidence.

If you didn’t kick-off the roaring 2020s in the way you wanted to, make sure you’re able to let your hair down when lockdown lifts. Evolve your data protection strategies now, so that you don’t need to worry about managing a hybrid workforce in the future.

Stephen Manley, CTO, Druva

Stephen Manley, Chief Technologist, Druva.