According to a recent survey by Kaspersky, 48% of businesses in South Africa reported problems with data protection: they experienced loss or exposure of corporate or customer data. World Backup Day, recognised on 31 March, puts the importance of backing up data in the spotlight for both businesses and individuals, especially as the cyberthreat landscape continues to evolve. Specifically, ransomware has become more sophisticated and targeted, and organisations across Africa must take all necessary precautions to ensuring their data is kept safe. Performing regular backups and cybersecurity checks are important steps in this regard.
Threat actors have moved beyond simply being seen as the scattered gangs of the past. Today, they can be considered sophisticated entities operating in an increasingly lucrative industry that seeks to compromise and steal corporate data as efficiently as possible. Given how important data has become to any organisation, it is hardly surprising how quickly malware such as ransomware has proliferated. An employee might click a malicious file downloaded from the Internet or an attachment in an e-mail sent by cybercriminals. Doing so doesn’t just encrypt data on the local machine; ransomware has a nasty habit of corrupting everything that the victim’s computer communicates with (connected network drives, external media, etc.). For most companies, losing access to data results in a shutdown of operations, leading to lost profit, damage to reputation, and recovery costs.
By way of example, in 2021, a ransomware attack on Transnet caused severe downtime and disruption, affecting port and container terminal operations in South Africa, as cargo could not be processed. In June last year, supermarket chain Shoprite also fell victim to a data breach where cyber extortion gang RansomHouse threatened to leak customer data unless a ransom was paid. The breach included names and ID numbers of customers who performed money transfers as well as photographs associated with their identity documents.
These cases emphasise the importance of making frequent backups of data to mitigate against the threat of ransomware and other cyberattacks. At this point, few companies can consider themselves immune to a possible attack and data breach.
- Backup regularly
While World Backup Day serves as a good reminder about this essential business practice, companies in a digital world must really be making backups at regular, frequent intervals. Identify, classify, and prioritise the most important data that must be backed up first. Many solutions are available that allow for this process to be automated as a means to reduce the time-consuming process of having to manually perform backups.
- Backup using the right media
It stands to reason that backups should be saved on repositories that are isolated from the main system. While USB flash drives and external hard drives might be sufficient for startups and SMEs, larger corporates need to consider network attached storage. However, cloud storage provides any business with mobility and access to files from any device, anywhere in the world. These cloud backups are stored offsite on a trusted service provider that would use encryption. But the onus remains on the company to ensure the connection used to transfer the files to the cloud provider is secure.
- Keep 3-2-1-1 in mind
Even though the 3-2-1 backup rule has long been accepted as business practice, recently this has given way to 3-2-1-1. The traditional rule goes like this: keep three copies of your data, with two copies stored on two different formats with one being kept offsite. The additional ‘1’ brings the concept of immutable storage into the equation. For its part, immutable means data which cannot be changed or modified after being created. This makes it perfect to safeguard against ransomware which might have compromised traditional backups.
“Having an effective data backup strategy in place has become a non-negotiable for any company in today’s digital landscape. As with other forms of malware, careful action and the use of excellent security software are a step in the right direction when it comes to combatting ransomware and safeguarding business data. While ransomware can really put all business operations on hold and make the data recovery process hard and expensive, protection from it doesn’t necessarily imply sophisticated measures or huge investments. Following simple backup rules and educating employees to not open phishing emails, together with a good endpoint security product should work just as well. It’s great to see the results of AV-TEST proving that Kaspersky endpoint protection platform can guarantee absolute protection against ransomware,” says Brandon Muller, technology expert and consultant for the MEA region at Kaspersky.
To maximise the efficiency of cybersecurity investments and minimise the risk of any attacks and data breaches for businesses, an effective endpoint protection with threat detection and response capabilities should be used. This essential level of endpoint protection is included in Kaspersky Optimum Security framework. For organisations with a mature IT security function, Kaspersky Expert Security framework additionally provides anti-APT, the latest threat intelligence, and dedicated professional training.