Microsoft Office 365 screen.
Image: dennizn/Adobe Stock

By David Friend, CEO and co-founder, Wasabi Technologies 

Microsoft Office 365 and other cloud-based SaaS applications are a key working component of many business operations, enabling teams to share documents among multiple devices, easily house data in a private or public cloud, and work together in real time. But while Office 365 and similar SaaS apps store your data, if your data is lost, Microsoft does not guarantee that it will restore it. With Office 365 as a prime target for SaaS attacks this year, there is no protection against data deletion, regardless of if it is accidental, intentional or criminal.

SEE: Cloud Data Storage Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

To protect valuable company data, backing up data assets in SaaS applications has never been more critical. Below are some important backup and data protection strategies for cloud-based SaaS users. If you apply these backup best practices to your operations, they can help to minimize damages resulting from cyberattacks and other forms of data loss.

Jump to:

Why traditional on-premises backups aren’t enough

When organizations are evaluating their backup options, some may be enticed to take the traditional approach of backing up their data on-premises. However, to meet today’s data security needs, this on-prem storage approach falls short, as large data volumes quickly outgrow on-prems’ capabilities. This adds increased complexity and costs to scale and maintain capacity.

In addition, on-prem backups require ongoing synchronization with live data, which can squander an organization’s time and resources, especially if they are producing enormous amounts of data. Finally, on-prem storage leaves companies more susceptible to cyberattacks and data loss due to its format.

Since on-prem storage effectively acts as a single copy of data, it can easily be targeted and damaged. When this happens, data backups are rarely in place to help teams with data recovery. This problem can ultimately be prevented by utilizing the cloud or other complementary backup solutions, like Veeam, which are able to restore data if human error or a breach occurs.

Cloud environments support storage and backup best practices

Compared to on-prem backups, cloud storage is a more flexible, risk-averse and cost-effective option for cloud-based SaaS users. In addition to generally being less expensive compared to on-premises solutions, it requires less time and resources to manage since cloud vendors handle maintenance and configuration needs for their customers.

SEE: Checklist: Cloud storage management (TechRepublic Premium)

Cloud backups can also mitigate the impacts of data breaches and ransomware attacks through the following cloud-based best practices:

Recovery testing

With data backed up to the cloud, companies can utilize recovery testing to identify errors in their data recovery process before attacks occur. Since the recovery process can be complicated and time-consuming when performed, testing this in advance can help address and eliminate any issues when a real attack occurs. The cloud enables businesses to easily test their recovery processes through its effortless access to data, providing ample amounts of preparation time.

Object-level immutability

Cloud providers can also offer immutable storage features, which prevent anyone — even a systems administrator — from adjusting, tampering with or deleting data during a set period of time. This storage and security feature is crucial to keeping files safe from corruption. Leveraging object-level immutability can prevent ransomware attacks when bad actors attempt to encrypt data, acting as an essential additional layer of protection for organizations’ cloud backups.

Diversification of backup and storage environments

With a cloud backup or multicloud approach, organizations can diversify their backups and store their data in different environments. This is a more advantageous strategy compared to storing all data in one location, as it helps companies avoid the risk of losing everything during a single-system attack.

A 3-2-1 backup plan, which recommends companies keep three copies of data — two on different media formats and one offsite — is a smart cloud security approach in this situation. This strategy prevents hackers from accessing all the storage locations but also allows companies to continue functioning if an attack occurs, minimizing downtime.

The importance of a strong backup strategy

Businesses can no longer ignore security threats for Office 365 and other cloud-based SaaS platforms. As these tools become more integrated into business operations at all levels, data that is stored in these platforms without appropriate backups is becoming extremely vulnerable in the face of growing cyber risk. Protecting data assets with the right tools, training, and cloud data storage and backup strategies can remedy these security issues before it’s too late.

David Friend.
David Friend

David Friend is the co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, a revolutionary cloud storage company. David’s first company, ARP Instruments, developed synthesizers used by Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin and even helped Steven Spielberg communicate with aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Throughout his career, David has founded or co-founded five other companies in the tech space. David graduated from Yale and attended the Princeton University Graduate School of Engineering, where he was a David Sarnoff Fellow.

Subscribe to the Data Insider Newsletter

Learn the latest news and best practices about data science, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, data security, and more. Delivered Mondays and Thursdays

Subscribe to the Data Insider Newsletter

Learn the latest news and best practices about data science, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, data security, and more. Delivered Mondays and Thursdays