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How is 3-2-1 Backup Policy now Out-dated?

The 3-2-1 backup policy has been in place for many years and is considered the "gold standard" for guaranteeing the security of backups.

With the growing trend of ransomware attacks, it has become important for individuals and organizations to adopt efficient backup policies and procedures.

According to reports, in year 2022 alone, around 236.1 million ransomware attacks have been detected globally. Cyber criminals have evolved into using innovative tactics malware, cryptography and network infiltration to prevent companies from accessing their data. As a result of these emerging ransomware attacks, companies are required to strengthen their security and data backup procedures which compel companies to financial constrains in exchange for the release of their systems and backups.

Current Status of Backups

Systems compromised with ransomware can be swiftly restored with the right backups and disaster recovery techniques, thwarting the attackers. However, Hackers now know how to lock and encrypt production files while simultaneously deleting or destroying backups. Obviously, their targets would not have to pay the ransom if they can restore their computers from backups.

Conventional The 3-2-1 Backup Policy

The 3-2-1 backup policy has been in place for many years and is considered the "gold standard" for guaranteeing the security of backups. Three data copies must be produced utilizing two different types of storage media, with at least one backup occurring offsite. The backup should ideally also be immutable, which means that it cannot be deleted, altered, or encrypted within the time period specified.

The "two diverse media" has typically indicated one copy on traditional hard drives and the other copy on tape for the past 20 years or so. The most popular methods for achieving immutability involved physically storing the tape in a cardboard box or destroying the plastic tab on the tape cartridge, which rendered the tape unwritable. While most often done by replicating the backup files between two company data centers to create the offsite copy.

Growing Popularity of Cloud Security

The cloud has grown in popularity as a place to store backups in recent years. Since its launch, the majority of businesses have reconsidered the conventional 3-2-1 policy. The majority of firms are using a mixed strategy. Backups are first sent to a local storage appliance because the cloud has a limited amount of bandwidth, which is typically faster than backing up directly to the cloud. In the same way, restoring from backups works. Always, restoring from a local copy will be quicker. However, what if the local backup was deleted by the hackers? in that case, one may have to turn to the copy stored in the cloud.

Today, the majority of cloud storage providers offer "immutable" storage, which is secured and cannot be changed or deleted. You actually need this immutability to prevent hackers from eliminating your backups. Additionally, since the cloud is always "off-site," it satisfies one of the key demands of the 3-2-1 backup scheme. one may still have the cloud backup even if there is a fire, flood, or other event that damages the local backup. People no longer see a need for two different types of media, especially the third copy. 

Replicating the cloud copy to a second cloud site, preferably one that is at least 500 kilometers away, is the practice used most frequently nowadays. The two cloud copies ought to be immutable.

In comparison to on-premises storage systems, cloud storage providers typically offer substantially higher levels of data durability. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Wasabi have all chosen the gold standard of 11 nines of durability. If you do the arithmetic, 11 nines of durability indicates that you will statistically lose one object every 659,000 years if a user offers you one million objects to store. Because of this, you never hear about cloud storage providers losing client information. 

The likelihood of losing data due to equipment failure is nearly zero if there are two copies spread across two distinct cloud data centers. The previous requirement of "two different media" is no longer necessary at this level of durability.

Moreover, alongside the added durability, the second cloud copy considerably improves backup data availability. Although the storage system may have an 11-nine durability rating, communications issues occasionally cause entire data centers to fall offline. A data center's availability is typically closer to 4 nines. If one cloud data center goes offline, one can still access their backups at the second cloud data center since they consist of two independent cloud copies. 

One may anticipate that the local copy will be lost during the course of a ransomware attack, thus they would be depending on cloud restoration. A company may as well shut down until the backups are accessed if the cloud goes offline for any reason. This thus makes two having two cloud copies a good investment.  

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