Data Loss: A Business’ Biggest Faux Pas

A firewall is useful but isn’t going to do much to help if your server is on fire. Thankfully, we have Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) solutions to help businesses protect their data and their operational continuity. Whether you’re in the office, or anywhere from Akron to Zimbabwe, a BDR can help protect you from disasters and data loss of all kinds. Look at it this way: would you ever go on a business trip without a spare set of clothes? Of course not—what if some shrimp cocktail dribbles onto your shirt during a mixer? Networking is a lot less effective with a stain that reeks of horseradish and crustacean. You can think of data loss as the shrimp cocktail stain on your business—albeit to a much larger degree—in that it makes you look really bad. Think about it! A business losing huge chunks of their essential data is a terrible look and guaranteed to repulse a lot of their clients and prospects. So, just as you bring a spare set of clothes to the business trip, you want to make sure you have the means to restore your data should something happen to it. You want to be sure you have a backup in place. A BDR enables businesses to protect their data, with the confidence that it can always be recovered if the worst were to happen. The network-attached BDR backs up your data as often as every quarter of an hour on hard drives to give you quick and easy access. Meanwhile, a copy is also stored offsite in a storage facility. As a result, if your hardware and the BDR device are to be compromised, this redundant data is left untouched and safe. Obviously, this sounds far better than manually saving files to the cloud, or saving them to portable drives, or—worst of all—saving all your data to a tape backup, relying on moving parts and antiquated technology. That’s like bringing a clown suit as your emergency change of clothes. The BDR, on the other hand, is a tailored and reliable ensemble waiting in the wings. Don’t let an unlucky break create a gaffe like data loss. Reach out to our team of IT professionals to learn more about how SRS Networks can help protect your data. Give us a call at (831) 758-3636 today.

Redundancy is Everything in a Disaster

It makes sense that any kind of redundancy would be frowned upon, given that business operations today have become so focused on efficiency. The difference is that the redundancy that we are discussing here has an intended purpose. Let’s examine this intentional redundancy in action with the 3-2-1 Rule of data backup. The 3-2-1 Rule This “rule” is pretty generally accepted amongst IT professionals. It sums up to the following: 3. Three copies of your data should exist 2. Two of these copies are backups 1. One of these backup copies should be located offsite But why two backup copies? Wouldn’t one of them be mostly redundant? It would, and that’s the point. Consider the possibility that your on-site backup could be lost in the same disaster that destroys your original copy. Your backup isn’t going to be of any help then. What if you found out that your offsite data center suffered a disaster, and so your backup is gone, just as a minor data issue takes place in-house? Your second backup is just that, a backup to your backup. Plan C, when Plan B doesn’t work out. A Timely Message It isn’t hard to see why this kind of reliability is valuable to a business, considering what has been happening in the past few weeks with the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses everywhere are either closing up shop or shifting to remote operations for the time being, and as this has been going on, business locations are being targeted. Theft and even vandalism can be very real causes of data loss, which means that properly backing up your data is a must. This situation also highlights one of the reasons that we really push the cloud as the best option for your backups. Not only is your data protected in the cloud, it is also accessible to your team, allowing them to work from home if need be until it is safe to return to normal working conditions. Of course, nobody should hope to have this happen, but not being prepared for it is just foolish. Again, we recommend the 3-2-1 Rule, as it practically guarantees that you aren’t without your data. If you need help setting up your backup solution, we can help with that, too. Call SRS Networks today to learn more about how working with us can ensure that your IT is reliably available to you when you need it. Reach out at (831) 758-3636.

Data Recovery Isn’t Just for Disasters

Here are some of the situations that businesses can benefit from proper data recovery maintenance: “…Oops.” At the end of the day, the most prolific threat to your data is your staff, the people you’ve hired to put all that data to use, including the person who looks back when you look in a mirror. I know, what a plot twist. However, it doesn’t make it any less true. Human error is one of the most common reasons that a company experiences data loss on any scale, mainly because there are so many ways for someone to make a mistake. Maybe someone deletes something accidentally, or takes the only copy of something offsite only for it to be lost or damaged. Therefore, it is crucial that you educate your users on proper practices for handling data, in addition to maintaining a comprehensive backup of your data to draw from if the need should arise. “In today’s weather…” Natural disasters can certainly live up to their name where your business’ data is concerned. Regardless of what the forecast says, your on-site infrastructure and any data it holds can be put at risk if a storm is severe enough. Taking this into consideration, any good provider will make sure that your data isn’t only saved in one location. Look at it this way… what good is a data backup, if that backup is wiped out by the same disaster that made it necessary in the first place? This is precisely why we always recommend that at least one copy of your data is preserved safely off-site. “Wait, my computer isn’t working right…” There are plenty of ways that an issue with a device itself can lead to data loss. Viruses can infect critical systems and take up the resources you need to be productive (and to save your data), drives can fail at the worst times, and the data stored on your system can be corrupted. If this is the case, keeping a backup can help save data that would likely have been lost without the backup. Finally, many small businesses assume that their size protects them from the interest of hackers. Unfortunately, they assume wrong. With many attacks now automated, cybercrime has become far easier to perpetrate. Threats like ransomware and other attack vectors can often require businesses to wipe their infrastructure to remove the infection. In these cases, a backup can prevent these actions from being a “mutually assured destruction” kind of strategy. Data recovery comes in handy in situations of any size and importance. SRS Networks can help you implement the solutions necessary for you to maintain a proper data recovery strategy. Learn more by giving us a call at (831) 758-3636.

A Business’ Data Needs a Backup

Regardless of what your business does, or how it does it, the data your business has is valuable. After all, a lot has gone into its creation… just consider the combined effort that your sales and marketing team, your human resources department, and the rest of your staff rely on and generate during their respective operations. Add to that all the data you’ve collected from your clients and customers. Now imagine the repercussions of losing any of that data. So Yes, Data is a Big Deal… … and as such, it needs to be protected. While antivirus, firewalls, intrusion detection, and all the other security tools we always recommend are a necessary part of this, a real disaster will require more. It will require a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery strategy to be fully planned and implemented. Of course, a “disaster” can come in many forms, like: Human error Malware attack Sabotage and theft Hardware malfunction Power surges Software corruption So, with all of the different ways that your business could experience disaster, it is imperative that you create a business continuity strategy that, by incorporating a backup and recovery plan, prepares you to sustain your operations through even the worst possible scenarios. In theory, a business has options to consider when making these preparations. Technically speaking, backup solutions like tape and removable hard drives could work for you, as could a cloud backup. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how your data is handled, and how you would need to scale your backup in the future. Having said that, we typically recommend a BDR solution. This is because the BDR covers both your backup and disaster recovery needs. As a network-attached storage device, it is configured to incrementally backup files, preventing the large chunks of data created between backups from being lost. The BDR can also act as a temporary server, should your original experience malfunctions. To provide the needed redundancy, the BDR will also save a copy of your backup in an offsite data center. As a result, a disaster that wipes your business’ data as well as the BDR still won’t eliminate your data entirely. To learn more about the BDR, reach out to SRS Networks by calling (831) 758-3636.

Do Not Let Disaster Devastate Your Business

Disasters have many forms. The first step to excellent disaster recovery planning is knowing what you are preparing for. These are scenarios that could affect your business without warning. Equipment Failure – You arrive at the office, hit the power button on your computer and go grab a cup of coffee. You come back and your computer didn’t turn on, so you hit the power switch again, but nothing happens. Your PC’s motherboard has fried. Imagine losing the entirety of documents, files, and contacts on your computer. This could happen at any given moment to any of us. The only way to avoid catastrophic data loss is by expecting it to happen and being prepared.  Staff Unavailability – Bob has been working on a company project for months on end but has told coworkers numerous times that he is unsatisfied with his role within the company. His project is a key element in the companies next steps to success. One day, Bob stops showing up to work without notice. Does your business’ disaster recovery plan accommodate for unexpected staff unavailability whether it be an accident, a personal emergency, or a situation like Bob?  User Error – Bob’s replacement, Rob, is taking over the company project. It’s ready to be presented and implemented. Rob accidently deletes the files when trying to transfer them to another device.  A simple accidental deletion could quickly turn into a disaster without proper planning. Don’t let poor planning rob your business.  Natural Disasters – When you hear disaster, this is likely the first thing that comes to mind. Natural disasters affect nearly every part of the world. Whether it’s a 100-year-flood that strikes unexpectedly, a hurricane that veers off of its projected path, or even something as simple yet devastating as high winds; your disaster recovery planning should accommodate situations as destructive as these.  Malware – Malware is the most technologically advanced scenario mentioned thus far. These evolved viruses constantly plague businesses across the globe. Staying vigilant and having a successfully tested disaster recovery plan means these vicious disasters transform into an annoyance rather than a business-destroying attack.  True Planning Means Thorough, Possibly Risky Testing A plan as previously mentioned is a proposal of a course of action you will take in the event of, in this case, disaster. Proposing a course of action is only the first step in disaster recovery planning. The second step is testing this plan. Which would you prefer: testing your recovery plan in the wake of a disaster, or testing your recovery plan long before a disaster strikes?  There are many different ways to evaluate the proposed processes outlined in your disaster recovery plan. These include the following:  Walkthrough Test: A walkthrough test is a simple way to review and share your disaster recovery plan. It allows you to discuss the plan with everyone involved and revise it as needed. Walkthrough tests are quick and should occur regularly to remind employees of your procedure and inform them of any changes that have been made. Tabletop Test: You are your own character in this tabletop game. Each team member is given the same hypothetical disaster and must explain their role in recovering. This test should be elaborate and realistic to aid in unveiling possible shortcomings in the disaster recovery plan.  Parallel […]

Even Cities Aren’t Immune to Ransomware

These numbers, by the way, come from a cybersecurity firm, as neither the federal government nor the Federal Bureau of Investigation track these kinds of attacks. As of May 10, of this year, there were 22 known attacks on the public sector. Unfortunately, there are likely more that we just don’t know about yet, as reports of these attacks usually crawl in months or even years after the fact. March Attacks March saw a few ransomware attacks on municipalities. The sheriff’s office in Fisher County, Texas, was infected and couldn’t connect to a state law enforcement database as a result. In Albany, New York, the capital city quietly announced that it had been victimized by a Saturday ransomware attack – a tactical choice on the part of the hackers, as there would be nobody there to fight back on the weekend. While the city initially gave an understated account of the attack’s effect, the real problems were much larger than a few belated marriage licenses and birth certificates. In addition to the clerical delays, the ransomware attack had also impacted the Albany Police Department’s systems. As these systems are effectively entirely digitized, the department was left without their incident reports, crime reports, and even their schedules. April Attacks April saw the entirety of Genesee County, Michigan’s tax department shut down by ransomware for most of the month. The infection has since been removed. May Attacks May has been exemplified by the complete shutdown of Baltimore, Maryland, due to an attack using a ransomware known as RobinHood. As a result of this attack, government emails can’t be sent, payments to city departments are on hold, and real estate transactions have been paused. While RobinHood leverages a notoriously powerful algorithm – even the National Security Agency may not be able to break it, according to cybersecurity expert Avi Rubin – it doesn’t help that Baltimore was also using outdated hardware and software. Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young has already gone on record to state that the city will not be paying the ransom of 13 Bitcoins, or approximately $100,000. Instead, the FBI and Secret Service have been called in, along with assorted cybersecurity experts. Despite these resources, the city isn’t expected to recover for months. Rubin provided some insight into why not paying the ransom is the right call for Baltimore, pointing out that if nobody paid the demanded ransoms, these kinds of attacks would quickly go out of fashion. However, many companies struck by ransomware will quietly pay up. Analysis has found that a full 45 percent of affected organizations ultimately pay the ransom to try and get their data back, while 17 percent of state and local governments will fork over the demanded cash. At SRS Networks, we have some experience in dealing with these kinds of things, which means we can confidently agree with the actions of Mayor Young and the statements made by Rubin – paid ransoms only encourage future ransomware attacks. What’s worse, what guarantee is there that any data will be restored even after payment is made? No guarantee at all. That’s why we’ve dedicated ourselves to assisting business users in protecting themselves against ransomware. Give us a call at (831) 758-3636 to find out more.

How to Restore Data You Didn’t Mean to Delete

We’ll go over a few practices that you should follow if you ever find yourself suspecting that a crucial file may have been deleted. Step One: Stop Creating More Data When a file is deleted, it usually isn’t actually deleted immediately. Instead, it’s only hidden. However, as you create and download more files and data, these deleted files are the ones that are overwritten by these new files. Therefore, you will want to avoid installing any software, streaming media, or downloading anything. Your files might not be overwritten if you do, but they could be, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid the situation entirely. Step Two: Check the Recycle Bin/Deleted Items Unless you’ve deleted the contents of the Recycle Bin after deleting your file, there’s a decent chance that you’ll be able to find it there. This is simplified by the Search Recycle Bin option, as well as your ability take its contents and Sort by Date Deleted. If your file was stored in a cloud storage service, you have the opportunity to check your cloud’s deleted files and potentially restore your file from there. Step Three: Check That the File Wasn’t Just Misplaced Chances may be slim, but you may have just misfiled whatever it is you’re trying to find. This is where the File Explorer’s Search function really shines. Before you do anything else, check to see that the file wasn’t just moved by searching for it… you may just luck out and find it. Step Four: Turn to Your Backup Solution Of course, if you’ve committed to maintaining a backup solution that subscribes to best practices, you should be able to restore your deleted file from there. While backup solutions are commonly associated with disaster-level data restoration needs, they are just as invaluable in less-cataclysmic situations – like when a file is deleted accidentally. If your business is in need of a backup solution, reach out to the professionals at SRS Networks. Call (831) 758-3636 to learn more.