One of the many changes brought about by the pandemic has been a massive upsurge in both remote workers and malicious cyber attacks targeting them and the companies they work for. The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency reported that phishing, malware (including viruses, trojans, and ransomware), domain attacks, including novel threats developed specifically to exploit the current health crisis, are all on the rise.
Unfortunately for small businesses, which are already under incredible strain and struggling to maintain operations during lockdowns and new health restrictions, those threats are more dangerous than ever. In 2019, more than half of small businesses suffered some form of cyber breach, costing an average of $200,000 per incident. Even more alarming, 60% of small businesses that suffered a serious cyberattack simply never recovered and closed their doors for good.
Fortunately, online collaboration, communication, and productivity tools have held up surprisingly well. Before the pandemic, no one could say for certain whether their business would be able to keep operating with most or all team members dialing in remotely, but a great many have now discovered they could. Cloud-based platforms, such as Office 365 and Google Workplace, enabled employees to connect to the software they need to get work done from anywhere.
Cloud to the Rescue
The cloud offers other significant advantages to small businesses: reliable, accessible, and secure backups. Because no risk mitigation protocol is 100% effective and human error and natural disasters always pose a threat to data integrity, the only surefire insurance against a major technology failure areis regular and robust backups that can be quickly deployed in emergencies.
Many businesses do keep backups, but often they are kept in the same building as their primary hardware, sometimes even on the same disk drives. That’s useful if the original copy is damaged for some reason, but if, for example, an unsuspecting employee clicks a phishing email and inadvertently gives cyberattackers access to that systemnetwork, the criminals can just encrypt all your data — including the onsite backup — rendering it inaccessible to you unless you pay their ransom (and sometimes not even then).
The classic formula for secure backups is the 3-2-1 Rule, according to which, all vital documents and data should be kept in triplicate: the original, a local backup stored onsite, and a redundant backup stored offsite. That’s where the cloud comes in. It provides an easy, affordable, safe, and accessible solution for storing that critical third copy. That way, should the worst occur and your business’s own servers are compromised or even destroyed, the cloud backup will be unaffected.
There are many reasons why small businesses benefit from utilizing a cloud-based backup solution. Here are seven areas where it can provide a strategic advantage and enhance security:
When you contract with any reputable cloud storage provider (and there are a number of good options) encryption comes standard. That means even if the cloud provider’s own servers are compromised your data is safe and will be useless to any unauthorized users that attempt to read it.
Furthermore, ransomware, malware, and viruses all affect data in a way that spreads across a network. A small business with two offices that are connected by a VPN isn’t actually achieving the security benefit of multi-location backups because both its locations are connected and ransomware can spread throughout them as if they are one place.
2. Physical Protection
Not every threat to data originates online. Fires, floods, earthquakes, onsite thefts, and other physical harm can also befall your equipment. Cloud data centers are built to a standard that virtually no small business can match, including buildings designed to withstand category 5 hurricanes, halon fire suppression systems, and even armed guards to deter intruders.
Your backups are only as good as your access to them. If something prevents you from entering your own facilities where onsite backups are stored, you’ll be unable to initiate a recovery program. Cloud backups, by contrast, are available 24/7/365 from literally anywhere you can get an internet connection.
Self-managed hardware is resource intensive, and that refers to both money and manpower. Parts break, routine upgrades cause downtime, and regular monitoring and patching eat up time and focus. Cloud backups eliminate those problems entirely. There is still a cooperative duty to ensure secure operations, but the nuts and bolts of maintaining the physical hardware is their responsibility, not yours.
5. Business Continuity
Disruptions and slowdowns cost small businesses loss revenue and damage to their reputations. The faster a firm can recover from a data disaster, the lower the resulting harm will be. Cloud backups ensure that even if onsite backups fail, your business can get back up and running rapidly. So quickly, at times, the end users and customers never even realize anything happened.
Running out of space on your onsite drives? Adding more storage can be a costly, and more importantly, lengthy process. But not for cloud-based systems. In fact, some are designed to automatically scale to fit your needs, and because cloud data is stored in massive server farms, you can grow as big as you need to without a problem.
7. Cost Efficiency
An added benefit to the inherent scalability of cloud backups and storage is that you only pay for what you use. If you build out an inhouse server that overshoots your actual requirements, that is simply wasted money. With cloud storage, you pay a predictable recurring amount that is tied directly to your usage.
Leave Nothing to Chance
Cybersecurity is a crucial consideration for any business operating in the modern, digital economy. Redundant backups that are kept offsite, enterprise-grade encryption, and physical security measures make cloud backups a safe and smart recourse for small businesses to quickly upgrade their defensive posture.
Add to that the numerous other advantages of cloud backup and storage, including enhanced scalability, productivity, decreased management burdens, and more predictable budgeting, and the case for taking action and leveraging the cloud becomes that much stronger.
No information technology decision is a perfect fit for every business in every industry, but offsite cloud backups are the right choice for the vast majority of small businesses.