Data is at the heart of everything, from healthcare to transportation to finance.
Data underpins not just our digital but also our physical world, making data resiliency — a.k.a. data resilience — absolutely vital. Ensuring the availability and integrity of data is essential for business continuity and success.
Unfortunately, challenges to data resiliency abound, from cloud outages to cyberattacks. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore what data resiliency is, why it’s so important, and how your company can choose an effective data resiliency solution.
What is data resiliency?
In the cybersecurity world, there’s some debate over the exact parameters of data resiliency. Is it solely a question of maintaining data availability? Or is it a more comprehensive process that maintains data integrity as well?
ISACA offers one helpful definition: “[A] resilient data system can continue to operate when faced with adversity that could otherwise compromise its availability, capacity, interoperability, performance, reliability, robustness, safety, security, and usability.”
Data resiliency, in other words, encompasses all the ways organizations must maintain access to their critical data and IT systems in the face of various challenges, including data loss, outages, cyberattacks, and natural disasters. It includes a range of strategies and technologies designed to minimize downtime and — in our books, at least — ensure both high availability and integrity.
Why data resiliency is more than just data availability
Some organizations conflate data resiliency with data availability, since maintaining on-demand access to data is a key part of business continuity. But that mindset overlooks a vitally important element of data integrity, i.e. the assurance that data is not corrupted, tampered with, or modified by unauthorized users.
Encryption is often the technology of choice to ensure data integrity, as it prevents unauthorized access to and modification of data. However, encryption does not maintain data availability during outages or cyberattacks. That’s why the most useful definitions of data resiliency include both integrity and availability.
What’s the difference between data resiliency and disaster recovery?
Disaster recovery and data resiliency are not interchangeable. Disaster recovery describes the processes used to return IT systems to their original state after an unexpected disruption. It can include strategies, procedures, and tools ranging from backup storage technologies to recovery time objectives (RTO) to PR initiatives.
Data resiliency, on the other hand, is a much broader concept. It may encompass data recovery and incident response plans, but it mostly emphasizes proactive measures to prevent disruptions in the first place. Using methods like failover, self-healing, redundancy, and more, data resiliency aims to keep systems running smoothly at all times.
What role do data backups play in data resiliency?
Data backups are a cornerstone of data resiliency. By creating copies of critical data and storing them in a secure location, organizations can give themselves a safety net that allows for the quick recovery of lost or compromised data. In the event of data loss due to hardware failures, accidental deletions, or cyberattacks, backups are often the best way to restore data to its previous state.
However, it’s important to remember that data backups are only one component of a robust data resiliency strategy. Although they’re vital for recovering from cyberattacks, they can also fall prey to threats like ransomware attacks that stealthily encrypt both backup data and primary data sources.
Why is data resiliency important?
Most companies tend to see data resiliency as a way to avoid costly disasters and downtime. And that’s certainly important, with over 60% of outages in 2022 causing at least $100,000 in losses. Downtime is getting more expensive, and incidents that lead to prolonged downtime are also on the rise.
Still, data resiliency isn’t just a question of avoiding major financial losses. It can also be framed around the benefits that resilient organizations see.
Reduced impact from cyberattacks. First, resilient organizations are better equipped to minimize the impact of cyberattacks, thanks to their ability to swiftly recover compromised data. By having robust data backups and disaster recovery plans in place, businesses can detect, prevent, and mitigate attacks before they cause major damage. Measures like intrusion detection systems and real-time monitoring assisted by AI can also help businesses reduce their vulnerability to data breaches, ransomware losses, and more.
Improved customer trust. Customer trust is the bedrock of any successful business, and data resiliency plays a pivotal role in building and maintaining that trust. By implementing robust data resiliency strategies, companies can ensure that their critical systems and services remain available even during outages or disasters — and that they can continue to fulfill orders and process transactions. This in turn helps minimize disruptions, fostering strong customer relationships and increased loyalty.
Increased business revenue. While data resiliency may seem like a significant investment, choosing the right tools and strategies can increase business revenue. Disruptions have become nearly omnipresent, and resilient organizations are better positioned to capitalize on opportunities and maintain their competitive edge in the face of cyberattacks. Additionally, since data analytics relies on accurate and available data, a company with more reliable access to its data will be more likely to optimize data-driven processes and increase revenue streams.
How does the cloud impact data resiliency?
The cloud has transformed the data resiliency game. Cloud adoption among enterprise organizations is over 94%, and 85% of enterprises are expected to follow a cloud-first mindset by 2025. But migrating your data storage to the cloud doesn’t automatically guarantee better data resiliency.
On the positive side, many cloud services often offer high availability, redundancy, replication, and data protection features in their service-level agreement (SLA). Cloud-based solutions can enable data redundancy without the need for infrastructure redundancy, and a multi-cloud architecture can improve resilience by reducing a company’s vulnerability to power outages.
However, migrating critical material from on-prem data centers to the cloud also brings new challenges in resiliency. Cloud providers aren’t immune from natural disasters or cyberattacks, and cloud outages can cause major disruptions for the customers who use their solutions.
All in all, the cloud complicates the question of data resiliency — particularly in more challenging environments like hybrid- and multi-cloud architectures.
How to choose a better data resiliency solution
Selecting the right data resiliency solution requires careful consideration of your organization’s needs and resources. Whether you’re looking for small business resilience tools or a solution for a major enterprise, here are some steps to guide your decision:
Assess your data. As ever, the first step in choosing a new technology is to understand your needs. Start by identifying the critical data and workloads that require the highest level of protection in your business. Make sure to also evaluate the likelihood of potential risks, including natural disasters, cyberattacks, and power outages.
Look for seamless, scalable options. You’ll want to choose a solution that can scale as your organization grows without breaking the bank. You’ll also want to look for software that can easily integrate with your organization’s existing IT infrastructure, operating systems, and applications. This is especially important for companies that plan to leverage cloud services, which are sometimes incompatible with legacy security solutions.
Consider AI and ML tools. Cybersecurity software is increasingly relying on artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate important processes like monitoring and detection. These AI- and ML-powered cybersecurity tools excel at sifting through vast amounts of data to identify unusual patterns and anomalies, including those that can signal threats to data resiliency. They may continuously analyze network traffic and user behavior to enable rapid detection, or they might leverage historical data to make predictions about potential cyberthreats in the future. They might even help with automating incident response and minimizing human error, making them a critical part of your data resiliency arsenal.
Don’t forget compliance. In today’s day and age, no data management plan can proceed without considering compliance. That applies even for data resiliency software, since even third-party SaaS vendors must take data privacy and protection regulations into account when processing certain kinds of sensitive data. To ensure you meet compliance requirements, you’ll want to assess whether your data resiliency software can protect personal data and PII.
Robust data resiliency with ShardSecure
The ShardSecure platform offers advanced data security, privacy, and resiliency for companies across a wide range of industries. It provides several key benefits on the resiliency front:
Data availability. Our technology achieves high availability at multiple levels. First, each instance of ShardSecure is a virtual cluster that can run on-prem and in the cloud. Second, customers can configure two or more virtual clusters for failover, which provides high availability across multiple clouds as well as in hybrid-cloud environments that use a mix of on-premises, private cloud, and third-party public cloud services.
Data integrity. ShardSecure also offers multiple checks for data integrity to detect unauthorized modifications, including those made by ransomware attacks and malicious tampering. If a storage location fails a data integrity check, the ShardSecure platform automatically alerts the SOC or security team.
Self-healing data. In the event of a failed data integrity check, our technology also reconstructs the affected data. This helps ensure that data remains not only available but also accurate and unaltered. The end result? Efficient multi-cloud resilience for your organization’s data at rest — without the need for multi-cloud redundancy or full data backups.