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Seven best practices for your data resilience strategy

An employee defining data resilience strategy to keep critical business data secure and accessible.

Your critical business data faces a wide range of threats, from cyberattacks like ransomware to human errors such as accidental deletion. At the same time, rapidly growing data volumes make it more challenging than ever to manage and secure that data. However, the consequences of not doing so can be severe: lost or compromised data can disrupt business continuity, hinder operations, hurt your reputation and, ultimately, affect your bottom line. 

The cloud is key to strengthening your data resilience, but what’s the best line of defence in the cloud? Our experience in helping Canadian enterprises safeguard their data in the cloud suggests that it’s a robust data resilience strategy that enables you to detect, mitigate, and recover from unexpected situations with minimal impact.

We’ve distilled our experiences into seven best practices that can help you define an effective data resilience strategy for your organization. 

1. Assess your data environment 

Taking a full inventory of your data environment will help you prioritize assets as you define your data resilience strategy. This involves identifying what needs to be backed up (and how frequently), retained, and quickly recovered if lost. You can do this by surveying the staff to determine your most critical business functions and processes, as well as the risks and potential impacts of data loss, downtime, or system failure.

By getting to know the applications in use and their importance to your operations, you can then establish recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). RTOs express the maximum amount of time your business has to restore a disrupted function or process before suffering unacceptable impacts. RPOs reflect how much data your business can stand losing if an application must be recovered to a former state. With so much data being generated, these parameters are critical to prioritizing your assets in order to strengthen data resilience.

2. Clarify compliance requirements 

Make sure you’re fully aware of every regulation that applies to data storage and use by your business, as well as what’s required for compliance. Maintaining compliance will be an ongoing effort because regulations often change. Some organizations have internal teams dedicated to this task, but you can also work with an external partner who has a deep understanding of all relevant regulations and standards. Plus, there are tools that can scan your cloud environment and notify you of any compliance gaps.

Depending on the industry you’re in and where you and your customers operate, various national and international regulations and relevant standards may apply to your business. These regulatory frameworks dictate how long your business must retain certain types of data and how that data must be stored and recovered.

3. Document your data backup and recovery processes 

Clearly define your data-related processes, roles and responsibilities, including such things as where your data backups live. Having more than one backup is crucial, according to the “3-2-1-0 rule.” This rule asserts that you should have at least three data backups on two different media types. One of those backups should reside offsite, and another should be immutable (meaning it can’t be changed or deleted, even by a system administrator) or air-gapped (meaning it isn’t connected to the internet, either directly or through another computer). 

A well-documented recovery plan helps to make sure that the right people in the right positions are notified if disaster strikes, expediting recovery in order to minimize data loss and downtime. It also ensures that no important steps are missed and serves as a record of the actions taken, which can facilitate post-incident analysis and reporting to help you strengthen backup and recovery processes in the future.

4. Develop a ransomware incident response plan 

Create a dedicated ransomware incident response plan that includes rigorous prevention measures, outlines detection and response processes, and defines all mitigation steps and recovery processes. A valuable addition to consider is an immutable storage solution that protects backups from being impacted by ransomware. 

This plan will help minimize the impacts of this fast-growing threat on your business. Last year, 85% of businesses globally suffered at least one ransomware attack, with an average recovery time of more than three weeks. Advanced ransomware can even target your organization’s stored backups to thwart data recovery, a tactic that can be prevented with immutable storage.  

5. Get everyone onboard 

Get buy-in among senior leadership and across business units early, ensuring everyone knows what’s expected of them if the disaster recovery and ransomware response plans are enacted. Clarifying roles and responsibilities is especially important in cloud environments. Some businesses assume that protecting and ensuring the compliance of their cloud workloads are the responsibilities of their cloud service provider. In fact, cloud security is a shared responsibility: service providers are responsible for monitoring threats to their underlying infrastructure, while their customers are responsible for keeping their cloud-stored assets secure and compliant. 

Knowing what you’re responsible for in the cloud matters because the success of any data backup and recovery plan depends on the people tasked to carry it out. Employee training on proper cybersecurity practices is also valuable because it can help prevent threats from affecting your organization in the first place.

6. Implement customized data backup and recovery solutions 

Once you have a clear idea of your data priorities and a well-defined data resilience strategy, it’s time to find solutions that can meet your RTOs, RPOs, and other specifications. The right external partner can help guide this process, taking the time to understand your data needs and architecting a solution that promotes resilient operations. Support can include designing and deploying cloud data backup and recovery software or even rethinking your organization’s entire network infrastructure because low latency enables faster recovery through the cloud.

A solution tailored to your unique data environment and needs will do more for your data resilience than a one-size-fits-all approach – because no two businesses are alike. 

7. Test and update your strategy regularly 

Having a data resilience strategy can be reassuring, but you also need to test it. Run through your strategy regularly, emulating various scenarios and seeing how your processes and solutions perform. It’s equally important to update your strategy as your IT environment evolves so that it covers any new data assets.

With regular testing and review, you can be confident that your strategy will work when it counts and encompasses all your critical business data.

Strengthen your data and cloud resilience with Bell 

Take the first step to strengthen your data resilience in the cloud with our comprehensive assessment services. From evaluating and identifying gaps in your organization to recommending a robust resilience strategy, we’ll help you achieve your data protection and business continuity goals.

Speak with a Bell professional services specialist to learn how we can help.