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Remote working is here to stay. Where businesses were once scrambling to work out how they could enable their employees to work from home, now everyone has realised the massive benefits to both businesses and remote employees of working from home.

Of course, remote working does present some challenges, not least of which is keeping business data secure. The “unmanaged” nature of off-site tech throws up a number of risks. In this article I’ll discuss how a cloud backup solution can be the “get out of jail free” card when disaster strikes.

What are the technology risks for remote workers?

Computers and other tech devices are at a much higher risk for people who work from home.  

  • They may be using their own computers which may be shared with other family members, including children, hence a much higher risk of malware being introduced. Even if devices are dedicated to work use they may be on the same home network and so equally vulnerable.
  • Users may have higher privileges on their home devices, and so have the ability to unwittingly install malware.
  • Home workers may have challenges accessing business data and may be inclined to copy data to their local PC to work on rather than accessing it from a central location. That data becomes vulnerable to data loss if anything happens to the PC at the offsite location.
  • Remote workers may also use portable devices, or data is stored on USB drives, and they travel with the devices on public transport, increasing the risk of them being lost or stolen.

How can businesses mitigate disaster by using Cloud Backups?

In this day and age it isn’t so much a matter of if a disaster will strike but when. The list of risks to business data is scary: fire, flood, theft, ransomware, hardware failure, accidental deletion, malicious deletion, industrial espionage to name but a few.   Every business should have a documented and regularly tested disaster recovery/business continuity plan, which includes the remote employees, and the two most important instruments in that plan are data backups and the ability to restore them.

Backup experts will recommend that data is stored in three places, one of which should be an offsite location.  So, the live data, a local backup, and an offsite or cloud-based backup.

If you lose your data, server, or entire business premises, then a backup solutions may be the only mechanism to recover from the data loss.

My data is safe in cloud storage why would I need a backup?

Your data is safe, are you sure?  Cloud storage isn’t the same as cloud backup. Many small businesses with remote employees may use cloud services like Microsoft 365 or Google Drive. While cloud services keep your data secure, and may back it up for disaster recovery, that’s not a proper backup solution. Most cloud service providers will tell you that data security is a shared responsibility. Cloud providers like Microsoft will tell you in their T&C that it is your responsibility to back up your data.

At the very least most cloud storage providers only keep the latest copy of your data, and so are not suitable for retrieving individual files that may have been edited or deleted several days ago.

The other danger with cloud storage is that they synchronise with your local PC, so if your PC gets scrambled by ransomware, then it may well scramble your cloud storage. Getting access to an older backup from the provider may require a support call and a long wait.

A proper cloud security backup will give you access to copies of backups taken days, weeks, months, or even permanently, so you have the option of restoring individual files, whole volumes of data, and even whole servers, operating systems and everything.

I use a Hosted Desktop and the provider includes backups – do I still need cloud backup?

Another popular service for the small business is Hosted Desktops. Most Hosted Desktop and other cloud based DaaS or SaaS providers will backup your data to another offsite location as part of the service, and give you a retention policy that should suffice for most business continuity situations. However, for regulated industries, or those complying with certain ISO standards then this might not be sufficient. The compliance auditors may require that you have a second security backup to a third party.

The most important feature of cloud backup – restoring it.

If you’ve read to this point in the article you will get that backing up your data is vital. But, you also need to know how to restore the data. Let’s say you’ve backed up a whole Windows server, system state, data, everything. If that server is encrypted by ransom would you know where to start to restore the data and get back up and running?   Doing regular restores of data and whole systems is good practice and will dramatically reduce stress levels and recover times in the event of a real disaster.

Are all cloud backups the same?

No, definitely not. There are many varying qualities of cloud backup systems so important to do your research to make sure you pick the right cloud backup solution for your business. Features to look out for are:

  • Secure, Air Gapped data backups – The ultimate in the security backups is having a complete “air gap” between your systems and the backup. This requires a different site, different domain, different operating systems to ensure that malware cannot attack your backups.
  • Encrypted backups – Like any data your backups, held in the cloud, need to be equally secure. Backup providers should give you the option of encrypting the backups – but don’t lose your encryption key, those that offer this service do not have access to it if you lose your key.
  • Accessible anywhere – Your whole site may be destroyed but having cloud based backups means you can restore data anywhere in the world over an internet connection.
  • Ability to restore both individual files and whole systems from any point in time. Beware of some cheaper cloud backup solutions that allow you to restore individual files to previous dates, but only allow you to restore the whole lot to the last backup, which may have been encrypted, leaving you no option but to restore file by file, which usually isn’t tenable.
  • Backup multiple services. Having one backup solution that can backup both local data on servers and PCs as well as cloud services like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace means you can manage all your security backups from one place
  • Flexible retention options to meet your compliance obligations
  • Ability to store any amount of data. There’s no point in having a backup solution and then finding not everything is protected because you’ve hit a quota limit.
  • Ransomware protection – Imagine the scenario, you get hit by ransomware, you recover all your systems from backup, only to find you’ve restored the infected files and get hit again. Look for cloud backups that scan your backed up files for ransomware and other Malware.
  • Restore priority files first. When recovering many GBs or TBs of data over an internet connection you may find the whole process takes many hours or days.  Some cloud backup providers give you the ability to select specific files from “stubs” in Explorer and restore those first.  To the user it looks like they are simply opening the file as normal as in most circumstances the file will restore so quickly the user won’t realise it wasn’t already there.
  • Ease of use – It’s vital that the backup system is easy to use and understand, making disaster recovery as quick as possible.

How can Your Office Anywhere help with data security?

Your Office Anywhere is An ISO 27001 certified company for our Information Security Management system. Protecting our customer’s data is integral to everything we do. All data held on behalf of customers is backed up to an offsite location as part of our service, and can be restored to our platform by our helpdesk team on request.

However, data protection is also the responsibility of our customers, who are the data controllers under GDPR, and we want to encourage both existing and new customers to avail themselves of additional cloud backup solutions to protect data both on our platform and on other cloud services or locally.

If you would like further information about cloud backups please contact our technical sales team on 01282 500318.  Email sales@yourofficeanywhere.co.uk, or complete the form below.