There are numerous “cybersecurity holidays” throughout the year, but none are as important as World Backup Day on Thursday – a day dedicated to encouraging individuals and businesses around the world to back up data.
How often do you back up your data? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Less Frequently? Never? If you back up your data daily, weekly, or monthly, you are in the minority according to a survey commissioned by the cloud backup service Backblaze.
Only 42% of respondents to the Backblaze survey back up data daily (11%) weekly (11%) or monthly (20%), while 20% of respondents have never backed up their data at all! Even more surprising is that the worst offenders tend to be in the 18-34 age group – an age group you might expect to be more tech-savvy and security conscious.
Despite the apparent laissez-faire approach to protecting data, many of the respondents to the survey have experienced a data loss (which may have subsequently prompted them to start backing up data). Of the 1,800 respondents to the survey:
- 62% had lost data at some point.
- 76% have deleted something by accident.
- 51% have had an internal or external hard drive crash.
- 52% have lost access to their data.
- 61% had a security incident (with 25% of those happening within the last year).
Why Backup Your Data?
If your hard drive crashes or you lose your phone, these pieces of hardware can easily be replaced. What can´t always be replaced is the data saved on these devices. This is because, even though you may use web-based email and social media accounts, bank online, and save your pictures in a cloud-based service – in theory enabling you to access them from any device – it is likely the login credentials for these accounts are saved on the crashed hard drive or lost phone.
Many people take advantage of browser-based password managers to save login credentials (i.e., Google Chrome or Firefox password managers), while many more keep note of them manually in an Excel spreadsheet or Word document. If you cannot use the device on which your passwords are saved, you are not going to be able to access the login credentials for your email and social media accounts, online banking account, or cloud storage service.
In addition, there may be a number of important documents and images you have not uploaded to a cloud storage service. These will be lost forever if you do not take a backup of them and keep the backup in an accessible location. Indeed, many security experts believe it is better to take two backups. One should be kept on a removable hard drive (i.e., a CD-ROM or USB pen drive), and the other in the cloud – but remember to keep a hard copy of the login for the cloud account.
But I Already Sync Data across Devices – so Why Bother?
Possibly one of the reasons why people in the 18-34 age group are the worst offenders for backing up data is because they are more likely to sync data across devices using services such as Google Drive and Drop Box. This means that if one hard drive crashes, they can still get into online accounts via another connected device. This is great if login credentials are saved in a browser-based password manager, but not so great if they are maintained on a spreadsheet that can´t be accessed.
It is also the case that – because most people use the free tier of synced services – users generally select what data is synced across connected services to avoid going beyond the free tier threshold. Few people work in shared folders or automatically upload every document and image to the cloud. Therefore, any document, image, or other data that is not synced is going to be lost when your hard drive crashes or your mobile phone stops working/is lost.
It is also the case that data synced across connected devices is vulnerable to ransomware and malware. If (for example) your PC is attacked by malware and files in a shared folder are compromised, when the PC next syncs the files on your PC with a connected device, the files in the connected device will also be compromised – and, depending on the nature of the malware attack, all your connected devices may be unusable or the data on them inaccessible.
Be Prepared Against Data Loss and Data Theft – Backup Data on World Backup Day
Although it is a best practice to backup data more than once a year, World Backup Day gives a timely reminder to backup data in order to be prepared against data loss and data theft. Everybody should make at least one copy of all their data, so it is easily recoverable in the event of a hard drive crash or lost device on which login credentials are stored (notwithstanding that, if you lose your phone and it´s not PIN-locked, the person who finds your phone has access to all your passwords).
Even individuals and organizations who use vault-based password managers such as Bitwarden should ensure vault data is backed up regularly. The best way to do this is by using the export vault data feature if you are taking a hard (paper) copy of data, and the encrypted export feature if you are sending yourself an email containing your login credentials. Finally, don´t forget to remind friends, family, and colleagues to also backup their data on World Backup Day.