Ensuring your backups are secure: What you need to know.

May 2010

Ensuring your backups are secure: What you need to know.


There are many opportunities for security breaches and data loss when writing backup data to tape and then sending tapes offsite to be stored at a remote location.  The dangers include lost, stolen or damaged tapes. For more information on the dangers of sending data tapes offsite, you can check out a post I published earlier today.

Now that you have recognized the security problem with tapes, you need to start considering alternatives. I would ideally recommend outsourcing the backup responsibility to an expert – a Managed Service Provider (MSP). By using a Managed Service Provider to provide secure, encrypted offsite disk based data storage at a remote SAS-70 certified datacenter, your business can protect itself from both data loss and the exposure of sensitive company and client data. The MSP becomes your partner and assists you with all aspects of protecting your company’s business critical data.

Purely from a data security standpoint, before you select a Managed Service Provider, you need to ensure that the MSP’s solution provides the following -

  • Multiple encryption algorithms to choose from, based upon encryption needs -Could range from: DES 56-bit with an 8-character key to AES 256-bit with a 32-character key
  • An independent third-party (preferably government) certification
  • Data destruction certificates based on government specified policies are a must to ensure compliance in many cases
  • Encrypted between all components - Data must be encrypted both in-flight and at-rest
  • Key escrow management - Ability to not only securely store your data, but securely store your encryption key at the MSP’s datacenter. This allows you to recover in a situation where your encryption key is not available to you
  • Password rotation support

If you can ensure that your MSP meets the criteria above, you can be rest assured that your company’s data is securely protected and is fully recoverable, but only by those authorized to do so!

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