This blog is written by Zac Amos, the Features Editor at ReHack, where he covers IT strategy, data privacy, and cybersecurity. For more of his work, follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Cybersecurity plans are usually defensive. Although analysts prepare for threat actors to infiltrate, most days require attentive oversight of firewalls and system updates. Defenses aren’t enough in the modern digital landscape, and every business and individual should traverse technology expecting hackers to sneak in one day.

Though pessimistic, this realistic point of view is crucial for prioritizing often-forgotten protection steps — data recovery. Data centers aren’t enough. Cloud storage isn’t enough. Implementing a comprehensive data recovery strategy to combat ransomware could save livelihoods and millions of dollars.

Why Are Backups Important Against Ransomware?

Analysts and IT teams need curated strategies for each kind of cyberattack. Ransomware becomes less intimidating — and less likely to occur — if assailants fear a company’s reputation of being experts in data recovery and storage. Ransomware is one of the most pervasive forms of cyberattack. Defenses increase astronomically if threat actors can’t tempt you to purchase the one copy of priceless, company-saving information.

Businesses can make clever decisions instead of relinquishing funds and power to hackers by paying the ransom. If they can recover the data from a backup, they can question how much impact it would have if the hacker released it. How many customers would it threaten? Could the company risk a reputation dip? Officials can consult public relations and stakeholders while analysts perform triage instead of stressing over budgets.

Data backups protect from ransomware by preventing delays in business operations that hackers would have halted if data were lost. Losing a decade’s worth of information could return companies to their first year of struggling profits — if not total decay. Backups keep companies afloat while ensuring desperate payments don’t promote hacker behavior.

How Can You Protect Backups From Ransomware?

Companies must prioritize data protection alongside other cybersecurity objectives. Testing business continuity plans is vital, but analysts must juggle resources gracefully to ensure adequate coverage. Cybersecurity is a delicate art of protecting every nook simultaneously, and teams that do this can then focus on data recovery. They can’t back it up if it’s already vulnerable.

Hackers threatening ransomware attacks can come from various entry points, such as email links, social engineering and backdoors. Defenders must find data recovery solutions that are resilient against all ransomware triggers. Backing up on external hardware isn’t sufficient, even if you include cloud storage or tapes. Additionally, teams can’t forget Active Directory or foundational configurations allowing companies to access, open and use the information they retrieve.

Teams should incorporate software and diversify data silos so information is easily accessible but not so concentrated that it puts too much in a small surface area. Virtual and physical servers should reliably and consistently back up data, minimizing the recovery point objective as much as possible.

How Do You Restore Data From a Backup?

Restoring data, especially in large quantities, could take an unreasonable amount of time amid an attack. That’s why having and testing disaster recovery solutions is vital.

Data should remain offline and independent, out of sight and out of mind from internal threats — especially when 43% of employees make mistakes working from home that jeopardize cybersecurity. Teams must consider these threats on top of people who sneak into networks.

The backups should be complex for operators to access but only be deployed when necessary. Only those with specific permissions should be able to penetrate each data source, which will ideally have its own firewalls and authentication measures. Some outfits could consider immutable storage or write-once solutions as other layers of security, preventing data from overwriting.

Operators can refer to disaster response plans to find the location of missing data. They can use keys to decrypt files or transfer information from cloud servers. Versioning allows companies to store multiple saved versions of data, so retrieval of how it was before the threat actor took it is simple.

Data Recovery Is Ransomware’s Biggest Threat

Cybercriminals cannot have the upper hand if the victim has a data recovery strategy. There will be no question of whether to pay the ransom or additional encryption keys when protected storage has everything safe and sound.

Investing in data recovery is the most sensible solution in a world where cybercrime is a daily expectation — especially for the peace of mind it provides companies. Employees and bottom lines stay safe, and criminals know they can’t penetrate these prepared entities with ransomware.

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