Encrypting Backups – Why it’s More Important than Ever

encrypting backups - more important than ever

Your data is valuable. And unfortunately, not only to your business. Data theft is a serious issue, and the very nature of an image backup means it’s an entire copy of all of your data and systems in one location. If you don’t adequately protect it, this potentially represents a significant vulnerability.

Fortunately, protecting vital backups is straightforward with most modern backup solutions. How? One word: encryption. Let’s take a look at why encrypting backups is important.

 So Why Encrypt Your Backups?

encrypting backups - why do it?

As we mentioned at the top, a backup (and particularly an image backup) is essentially a stockpile of all of your company’s data in one location. That means it could make a very attractive target for anyone looking to gain access to this data for their own gains. Why would anyone want your company’s data though? Well, there are a number of reasons.

The first and most obvious one that should occur to any businessperson is industrial espionage. Your competitors could use your data to gain an advantage in numerous ways –  stealing trade secrets, accessing sales leads or clients to poach your business, or finding internal communications that could tarnish your reputation if leaked are just a few that spring to mind.

You also need to remember that this is the age of the internet. Data can be bought and sold in online black markets, and that means your data is valuable to hackers. As many companies have learned (Sony and Ashley Madison are two high-profile and recent examples), if online criminals get access to your company’s sensitive data it can have serious ramifications. If you’re a company the size of Sony, you can probably weather the storm, but for most small to medium businesses this kind of breach could easily turn off your lights.

So since we’ve established that protecting data with encryption is seriously important, and that backups are basically the mother-load of all your data, what’s the best way to go about encrypting backups?

Leveraging your Backup Solution for Encryption

encrypting backups - leveraging your backup solution

This is 2015, and that means you can pretty much guarantee that all of the best backup software options available will offer some form of encryption. Obviously, we know our own solution best, so we’re going to cover what BackupAssist offers to ensure the privacy of your backups, but if you’re using a different solution it would be worth your time to reach out to them and find out what similar options they might offer… Of course, you could always try BackupAssist free for 30 days instead. Just saying.

While BackupAssist offers three different options for encryption, and each serves its own purpose, we generally suggest our customers utilize the BitLocker integration our software provides as their base-level encryption method. This is because it can be used with all backup types and on a broad range of destinations.

BitLocker is Microsoft’s encryption solution that is offered in Windows Server 2008 onwards, and BackupAssist leverages this solution. BitLocker uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption algorithm. At the time of writing this, there is no known way to break AES encryption without access to the key, and the United States Government has deemed it safe for encrypting classified information since 2003.

When creating a backup job, BackupAssist will present the option to use Bitlocker to encrypt the destination prior to the backup being run.  When a drive is encrypted, BitLocker creates an encryption key for that specific drive. The key is saved to a USB flash drive, or entered manually in the form of a password, and used by BackupAssist to unlock that drive each time the backup job runs. This means that when not backing up or restoring data using that drive, the drive is securely encrypted and your systems and data are protected from unauthorized access.

To use BitLocker encryption with your backup job (System Protection, for example) simply tick the Enable BitLocker Encryption box during the Media Destination step, and then provide the USB flash drive location and password during the Set up destination step. During the Media Preparation step, the external drive will be encrypted and the encryption key will be saved to the USB flash drive.

The great thing about using BitLocker when encrypting backups is that it only needs to be performed once, when using the destination for the first time (and when doing so you should take encryption times into account). Once the drive has been encrypted, you can perform backups to it as normal, and rest easy knowing your backups are secure.

Are you encrypting your backups? If not, why not?
Leave your thoughts in the comments, tweet @BackupAssist or post to facebook.
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