March 11, 2024

World Backup Day is March 31

But backing up data is important every day of the year!

The ever-increasing threat of ransomware is one great reason to keep your data, computers, phones, information systems, and critical information assets backed up. Back up all data that you are responsible for, using multiple methods or formats. Check with your IT support staff if you are unsure of how to back up UW-owned data and devices.

It’s important to use multiple methods or formats to back them up, and to ensure that at least one backup is not connected to your computer–because backups that are attached can become infected by ransomware and other forms of malware.

A good strategy for backups is the 3-2-1 rule. It says there should be at least:

  • 3 copies or versions of data,
  • Stored on 2 different pieces of media,
  • 1 of which is off-site and immutable.

In this context, “immutable” means that the computer whose data is backed up cannot delete the backups. (Deleting your backups is one way ransomware actors increase the pressure to pay up.)

Besides backing up data in multiple forms, make sure your backups are:

  • Stored in an immutable form (entirely offline, or at least not deletable by the computer that created them)
  • Encrypted
  • Only accessible with multi-factor authentication
  • Able to be restored within a reasonable amount of time

And be sure to test your restoration process before a catastrophe strikes, by doing a complete restore of critical data. This matters for several reasons:

  • You may find that a critical component (such as an encryption key or passphrase) that you need in order to access your backups is not available during recovery.
  • You may encounter missing data that should have been backed up but wasn’t.
  • Complete disaster recovery can be a very slow process, and traditional backups may be inadequate to restore availability of your data quickly enough to satisfy your operational requirements. Make sure you know how long a restore will take, and calibrate your disaster recovery budget according to your needs. You may need multiple solutions.

The time to discover and account for these complications is during testing, not during a crisis.

Where to start? The UW-IT Backup service can function as one important piece of your backup strategy. It can be configured so that your backup clients cannot delete their own data. It can also be configured such that backups are encrypted at rest – either by having the backup server store the key for you, or by requiring you to know the key in order to restore data, according to your needs.

More information

IT Connect: Online storage
UW-IT Backup Service

NetworkWorld: For secure data backup, here’s how to do the 3-2-1 rule right

UW OIS Resources