05 Oct 2020
Imagine you rent a property (perhaps you do).
Inside it, you store all your worldly possessions – the most valuable things you own.
Those items mean so much to you that to safeguard them; you lock doors, secure windows and even install alarms and cameras.
You’re also careful, treating it with respect and expecting others to do the same.
Then, for good measure, you add in one final level of protection: contents insurance.
Yeah, we never promised it’d be sexy or exciting, but would you disagree that it is essential?
No, we doubt you would. But you pay for that peace of mind, despite the cost, because you know the price could end up much higher.
So, now picture this scenario:
Imagine you rent a server from a Cloud Service Provider like Microsoft 365 (perhaps you do)
Inside it, you store all your worldly data – the most valuable data your business owns.
That data means so much to you and your business that to safeguard it; you lock it behind a firewall and encryption, install anti-virus and even back it up to an onsite disk.
You’re also careful, treating it with respect and expecting employees to do the same.
But then-- you miss a step.
One you’d otherwise make sure to get a sure footing on if your worldly possessions were at risk.
You leave out that final level of protection: contents insurance .
Or, as it’s otherwise known in data terms: third-party cloud backup .
We get it. We don’t blame you for questioning it. With all the other high-tech precautions you have in place, the ratio of risk must surely be in your favour.
But it isn’t. Because the risk comes from all directions, both from the outside and within.
You may wish – even ask or demand – that employees treat the data stored Microsoft’s servers with respect. But employees are people, and people are imperfect.
Some employees make mistakes – they accidentally delete vital files or entire folders.
Others, though, are angry; they’re unhappy and vengeful, and they go after your data maliciously - often far more than you’d expect.
Then again, it may not be an employee at all, but a be fatal system error or hardware malfunction.
Regardless, by the time you’ve noticed, that short retention period offered by Microsoft has expired. And so has your critical data.
Ah – yes, you’ve got an onsite backup. Great. The problem is, those employees can (intentionally or not) get to that too, especially if they have access permissions.
Then, there are the other threats, those that invade to pillage, ransom, or destroy.
And this enemy is far more insidious, and infinitely as technologically capable as you – usually more so. They’re smart, and they’re getting smarter.
Some viruses seek to destroy your data. Some malware wants to steal it. Others aim to extort you – that’ll be ransomware.
And they all get in through weaknesses in your defences.
It’s just like your rented property; with your locked windows and locked doors, there’s always a way for someone determined enough to get in. And those alarms and cameras? Utterly worthless if they bypass them using blind spots you never knew were there.
Wait - your onsite backup! Ah no – sorry, it’s attached to your property – it has a door and a crackable lock, and it contains your last hope. They’ll strip that bare too.
And trust us, they can and will. That’s why ransomware has enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2020. It’s been the rise of remote workers, unsecure home networks, and no remote backup – it’s ever more the perfect chaos in which ransomware (and any other virus) thrives.
In either case, your data can be irrevocably lost – either by destruction, by theft, or by permanent encryption.
Unfortunately, Microsoft can’t help you. It isn’t their responsibility – they make that clear in their Terms of Service - it’s yours. Sure, they’ll retain copies as far back as their short retention period (30-90 days) allows, but no further.
What’s more, Microsoft is not immune. So many IT professionals I’ve spoken to over the past 12 months abjectly believe Microsoft’s infrastructure is too resilient, making the risk low. OK, granted, they may be more advanced in their security and protection, but they still face the same threats your business does.
Fortunately, these were only temporary outages, but the risks for big companies remain the same. Outages don’t just ‘happen’; cyber-attack, hardware malfunction, or major system failure cause them. If they lose your data in the process, there may be no fallback.
Microsoft knows this, too. They check to see how protected your data is on their servers you rent out. Shockingly, their figures suggest that 80% of the organisations using their service have no third-party backup (aka contents insurance), meaning most of us are inexplicably gambling with one of our most valuable business assets.
It’s a funny thing, really. Because data is the most valuable currency in the world, worth far more than your worldly possessions (at least monetarily) to the right buyer.
It’s valuable to you, your employees, and every other market on earth, including criminals.
And yet, we don’t take all the same precautions to protect it.
Choose the right policy, and regardless of what befalls your worldly contents; no matter the failure of your landlord (Microsoft); despite criminals breaking, entering, stealing, ransoming, or destroying…
Contents insurance will protect you and those assets you hold most dear.
You need the right third-party cloud-based, offsite, encrypted backup.
If you’re feeling a little bleak, worried, or vulnerable…
Then now is the time to shop around for quotes.