Security breaches to blame in 1 in 3 cases of systems downtime: EMC

Most companies still relying on traditional backup, question reliability as ransomware threat intensifies

The majority of businesses lack confidence in their data-protection environments but half of Australian businesses are still evaluating alternatives – despite high rates of data loss that have pushed the average cost of data loss to over $1.25m in the last year.

Released this week, the 2016 EMC Global Data Protection Index asked 2200 IT decision makers in 18 countries about their data-protection initiatives and found that, despite managing an average of 1.45 petabytes of data each, 90 percent of the businesses were still classified as 'laggards' or 'evaluators' – using legacy backup techniques such as archiving and backing up to disk, with recovery time of 6 to 24 hours or more.

Australian businesses ranked 13th in a leaderboard of companies that had shifted to more proactive policies built around policy-based, offsite replication and deduplication that shortened recovery times to 5 hours or less.

Just 8 percent of Australian businesses had implemented these capabilities, the survey found, with the 52 percent that were classified as 'evaluators' were doubtful of their ability to restore their data in the event of data loss.

The redistribution of data in hybrid environments had proven to be a key disruptor for storage strategies, with 29 percent of organisations' IT environment now said to be in the public cloud and just 56 percent still in on-premise physical or virtualised servers.

This trend had complicated the process of protecting data, with 2.35 terabytes of data lost over the last 12 months and the volume of data loss increasing with the number of storage and backup vendors in use.

Despite widespread use of cloud services – respondents reported using cloud-based services for archiving (46 percent), protecting specific apps (45 percent), long-term retention (43 percent), mobile device backup (33 percent) and disaster recovery (21 percent) – less than half of respondents said all data stored in the cloud was protected against deletion and corruption.

This had major implications for business resilience against ransomware – whose victims often rely on recovering unencrypted files from recent backups – said Enterprise Strategy Group founder and senior analyst Steve Duplessie in a statement.

“Ransomware is dramatically raising the stakes when it comes to cyber security,” he said. “We’re moving from theft, which is costly, to potential catastrophe.”

Weak backup practices have been particularly blamed for ransomware's fierce attacks on SMEs. Security breaches were a widespread cause of system downtime, with 23 percent of the respondents reporting an external security breach and 16 percent, an internal security breach. Other downtime was blamed on factors such as hardware failure (45 percent), loss of power (35 percent), software failure (34 percent), data corruption (24 percent), and user error (20 percent) with service/cloud providers blamed in 10 percent of cases.

The average cost of these events was $US913,958 ($A1.26m), with an average of 22 hours' unplanned system downtime costing a further $US555,000 ($A768,000).

Cloud-based storage had emerged as an important part of data protection strategy, with 41 percent using automatic backups to cloud services and, with 34 percent adoption, backup to tape still the most likely archive strategy for long-term data storage.

Businesses “are facing a rapidly evolving data protection landscape on a number of fronts, whether it’s to protect modern cloud computing environments or to shield against devastating cyber attacks,” EMC Information Infrastructure CEO David Goulden said in a statement. “Our research shows that many businesses are unaware of the potential impact and are failing to plan for them, which is a threat in itself.”

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