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February 26, 2014
Cloud-to-Cloud Backup

How to Achieve a Five-Star Cloud Security Rating

“I don’t need backups now that I’ve moved to the cloud.” This sentiment is very common, not least because SaaS application vendors sell their customers on the notion that backups are tasks the frontline IT manager can put aside after moving to the cloud. Unfortunately, it’s not completely true. Even the cloud needs backup. To this end, we we have put together a new eBook that explains why and how even the most mature and well-defended SaaS applications demand and deserve a third-party backup.

In the eBook we outline the seven most common scenarios that lead to data loss and rate how well the average cloud application defends against these threats on a scale of 1 to 5. You can download the full eBook at the end of this blog post.  In the meantime, here is a quick preview of three common data loss scenarios, their cloud safety rating and how to protect yourself from data loss in each scenario.

Hardware Failure: 5 Stars

The most common cause of conventional data loss is good, old-fashioned hardware failure. Given enough time, all hard drives will fail, corrupting or destroying the data they contain. Fortunately, the cloud has all but eliminated hardware failure as a viable cause of data loss. Put more simply: in the cloud, hardware failure is a solved problem. When cloud vendors tell you that the cloud has eliminated the need for backup, this is the data loss scenario they’re talking about.

How to protect yourself: You don’t have to; the cloud’s got this.

Software Corruption: 3 Stars

Software corruption is a nuanced issue when it comes to cloud computing. Because cloud data stacks are centrally administered for all users by highly qualified experts, corruption is fairly unusual and almost never permanent. Even if a cloud vendor pushes a buggy software upgrade that takes down a SaaS application —and this happens often enough that, for example, Google maintains a publicly accessible Google Apps status dashboard—the vendor can nearly always roll back changes and repair the damage in a matter of minutes or hours. Your cloud data won’t be lost to software corruption, it will just be temporarily out of reach. The issue is the loss of access, which means a loss of productivity during downtime.

How to protect yourself: Only employ cloud vendors with SLAs that offer service credits for unplanned downtime (this makes them take downtime seriously); favor SaaS applications that include “offline” modes so you can operate some or all of the app when the service is down.

User Error: 2 Stars

The single leading cause of data loss in the cloud is user error. The reason is simple: no software can tell the difference between an intentional and an unintentional command. Clicking delete when you meant archive isn’t a software flaw, it’s a human flaw that software can’t defend against. Most cloud apps do the best they can to protect us from our own user errors, either by putting up confirmation challenges against most or all deletion commands.

How to protect yourself: Maintain an independent backup of your cloud data; that’s the only way to protect users from themselves.

Cloud applications are far safer places to keep your data than most any on-premise data storage system—but “safer” is not the same thing as “invulnerable”. For more detail on the top cloud data loss scenarios and how to avoid them, download the How to Achieve a Five Star Cloud Safety Rating guide below.

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