4 Myths About Data Backup in the Cloud: What Municipalities Need to Know 

November 1, 2023 - (5 min read)

By Clark Cooper, Senior Strategic Advisor, VC3

When talking with towns and cities, we often hear a variety of perspectives and observations about cloud data backup. It’s a technology that has rapidly advanced and improved over the years, becoming an essential part of many data backup and disaster recovery strategies. 

Yet, the cloud is obviously not foolproof. Stories of cloud backups impacted by ransomware attacks, unauthorized access by hackers, and accidental data deletion can make it seem like cloud data backup is less safe than traditional onsite backup methods. Others think the cloud is foolproof due to its reliability and oversight by major tech vendors. 

What should you believe? Let’s sift through some myths that you’ve likely heard and give you the reality. 

Myth 1: Any cloud data backup solution will protect a municipality from a ransomware attack. 

This is a logical assumption, as data backup solutions are supposed to allow you to recover after a cyberattack—including a ransomware attack. 

Reality: You need to ensure your cloud data backup solution is “immutable.” 

What does it mean to be immutable? It means your data backups are unable to be changed or deleted by anyone until you need access to them. 

So, what does this have to do with ransomware? Some cloud data backup solutions work by syncing data—meaning a copy of your data is created and updated instantaneously during the day as files are added, changed, and deleted. Imagine ransomware infecting your data—and then the ransomware virus is synced to your backup data. 

Such scenarios have led to serious ransomware attacks that have corrupted both a municipality’s data and its backups. Your cloud backups need to be completely walled off from your day-to-day data and only accessible when needed. 

Myth 2: The only way to be sure data backups are safe is if servers are managed in-house. 

Sometimes, municipal staff feel that their data is unsafe unless it is completely in-house and under their control. It’s reasonable to fear that data outside of your purview is unsafe. 

Reality: Security standards at cloud data centers are extremely high and difficult to match internally. 

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have onsite data backup servers for quick recovery and in case of internet outages. But it shouldn’t be your only data backup and disaster recovery component. 

Servers can be hacked or poorly monitored and maintained. Thumb drives, hard drives, and tape can be lost, stolen, or corrupted. Unfortunately, just because you own the hardware and can see it in front of you does not mean it’s any less safe than a cloud data backup. 

In fact, many cities and towns struggle to keep up with the demands of securing data—demands such as regular software patching, constant monitoring, and evolving security protocols. By contrast, cloud data backups are usually overseen within highly secure and compliant data centers. Big name vendors are incentivized to rarely fail due to intense competition and regulatory requirements. 

Myth 3: The volume of reported cloud data breaches suggests that data in the cloud is unsafe. 

Stories about hackers and data theft fuel this fear. Plus, there is an uneasy mystery about the cloud. Where is your data, exactly? How do you know it’s safe? 

Reality: Most cloud data breaches originate from human error, not from a lack of cloud data security by vendors. 

Many cloud data breach incidents stem from issues that have nothing to do with the security of cloud data centers—issues such as misconfiguration, user error, breached user credentials, lack of multi-factor authentication, lack of data loss prevention monitoring, and poor data access and authorization policies. When configured correctly and properly overseen, the cloud provides major benefits as part of an offsite data backup and disaster recovery strategy. 

Otherwise, why would banks, financial institutions, retailers, and government agencies heavily use cloud data backup if it wasn’t safe? Major cloud vendors responsible for backing up the data of industries with the strictest compliance requirements cannot toy around with sensitive and confidential data. As a result, they have learned to protect it with the highest standards. 

Myth 4: Cloud data backup is too expensive. 

There is still a perception that any sufficiently rigorous cloud data backup solution must be incredibly expensive and only meet the needs of larger businesses or municipalities. 

Reality: Cloud data backup costs have become incredibly affordable. 

Cloud data backup may have been cost-prohibitive when it was still a new technology.  However, over the past decade, costs have decreased because cloud providers have benefited from economies of scale, the solution has become more of a commodity, and intense competition has led to price wars. 

Even though cities and towns need a costlier service than consumer-grade data backup, the costs of even enterprise-level solutions are still very low and affordable. You’ll also find that cloud data backup services are usually less expensive than tape, external hard drives, and using your own servers. Along with direct costs, consider the indirect costs of using inferior data backup solutions – even if it seems like you’re saving money. Downtime, permanent data loss, or reputational damage to your city or town may cost you more in the long run than an investment in cloud data backup. 

A cloud data backup solution will help the offsite component of your data backup and disaster recovery solution by: 

  • Automating your backups 
  • Providing infinite data retention 
  • Providing immutable data backups 
  • Allowing you to restore your data from any point in time 
  • Ensuring compliance with the highest security standards and regulations 

If you are unsure about your current cloud data backup solution or if you’re researching solutions, then talk to your IT staff, IT vendor, or a trusted managed service provider with experience in municipalities. 

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