Protect business data from remote work mishaps

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Protect business data from remote work mishaps
Build a better backup strategy.
Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

Employees are often more distracted when working remotely, making them more susceptible to data loss or cybersecurity attacks.

With so many people still working from home, there are almost as many processes that have changed as have stayed the same. The company workflow — every single document, note, memo and hallway conversation — is almost entirely online. This makes it challenging to ensure that all of that business data is secured in a protected location.

It’s also vital given employees are often more distracted when working remotely, making them more susceptible to data loss or cybersecurity attacks, coupled with a lack of protection on home devices and networks. A recent Barracuda survey found that 36 per cent of organisations in Australia have already had at least one data breach or cyber security incident since shifting to a remote working model.

Data backup is more critical than ever. All of the business communications and company data generated by the new workflow need to be protected. That’s 40+ hours a week multiplied by as many employees as you have.

How confident are you about your backup strategy? Do you know where your remote workers are saving their data? Now that they’re out of the office, they may be saving to a local drive or to an unapproved file sync and share application.

Many organisations have shifted their workforces onto Microsoft Office 365, as they gain access to most of the applications needed to perform their work remotely. If your employees are using SharePoint and OneDrive more than they used to, how are these additional files being protected? Are you running backups and archiving your business messaging through Exchange and Teams? Are the data backups available, accessible and quickly recoverable at all times?

It’s so important to manage backups remotely. You don’t want IT workers to have to go into the office to add capacity, look at reporting or do routine tasks such as restoring data.

Build a better backup strategy

To protect important company data, make sure employees are saving to a backed-up location, not just on their laptops. One way to do this is to create a policy mandating that all business documents be saved on a company approved shared system such as OneDrive or SharePoint. That way, even if disaster strikes an individual laptop, there is a copy that can be recovered.

The next step is to make sure the IT team can recover content on both a macro and micro level. On a macro level, being able to restore part or all of a SharePoint or OneDrive site can save your IT team hours and avoid the inconvenience of not having the drives available for an unspecified time.

Native Microsoft functionality doesn’t allow for partial restores, which means additional time and complexity involved if there is no third-party backup solution in place. If you’re encouraging people to put documents in a shared space, you’re putting more pressure on everything being available, all the time, for everyone.

On a micro level, how easily can IT help your employees find documents that have been lost? How much information does someone need about the document to find it?

Most of the time, people don’t have the exact name of the file they lost. They might only know that it was an Excel budget spreadsheet from April or maybe May. Being able to recover these documents quickly can save employees time and keep your business running smoothly.

The number one collaboration and information sharing application is email, so make sure you back up the reports, correspondence and other documents that are saved only in email.

Remote work has also pushed everyday hallway conversations into applications like Microsoft Teams. Online collaboration groups and work teams have been so effective that many organisations have hundreds of groups to facilitate communication. Saving individual chat messages might be overkill, but backing up files could save a lot of overtime and undue stress, especially if you have to restore some project teams that were accidentally deleted.

Give data protection full attention

All of these factors make a backup strategy really work—encouraging people to back up their work to SharePoint/OneDrive, having the backup work remotely and being able to find and restore what you need quickly.

An education sector organisation, for example, used to take a full week to restore a server, requiring a lot of hands-on time by IT. This prompted the company to undertake a major overhaul of the company’s email security, backup and archiving strategy, reducing the time to restore a file or email down to only five minutes. The company also gained the ability to remotely restore SharePoint and OneDrive files in one click if an employee deleted them.

Data protection must get the attention it deserves to not only improve remote work efficiencies and workflows, but also to avoid causing further disruption or any reputational or financial damage, at a time when most companies can least afford it.

Andrew Huntley is the regional director for ANZ and the Pacific Islands for Barracuda Networks.

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