Mobility and Secure Data Backup Operations: Mutually Exclusive?

The flood of laptops and netbooks into the enterprise is something of a cruel joke for an IT staff charged with remote data storage chores. Here’s how to maintain access without compromising security or data integrity.

They install unapproved software, load files on flash drives without encryption and use “password” as a password. Sometimes you’d swear your mobile-technology-equipped employees are deliberately trying to cause a security breach.

They’re not, of course. They’re just looking for the simplest ways to get their jobs done. Instituting strict security policies isn’t the answer; if you make remote operations too difficult, you may slow productivity, or your employees may find detours around your careful plans.

The challenge for remote backup in a mobile world is to find sensible solutions that employees can live with. Here are a few problem areas you’ve probably noticed in your own organization, as well as effective ways to safeguard your company’s valuable information.

Hey, Where’s the Backup Policy?

Laptops are less likely than desktop computers to get backed up on a set schedule. That’s even truer for smartphones and tablets. Often, companies have no formal backup policy to cover mobile devices. The reasons for this vary: Some IT departments regard the data on mobile devices as less essential, assuming that it duplicates material stored on desktop computers. Others simply have their hands full tending to their company’s in-house computers. As challenging as it may seem, the answer is to create a backup policy that includes mobile devices. Keep an eye on the results to ensure that you’re getting buy-in, and keep it easy enough for even nontechnical staffers to manage.

Wanted in Every State: The Unknown Backup

A variety of free and low-cost backup services on the market are so simple to use that well-meaning mobile employees often sign up for them without IT approval. That’s a litigation bombshell waiting to explode, especially if confidential data is being sent offsite. Create policies regarding such services, and let mobile employees know the specifics. Institute easy, regular backups of your own, so your employees know their data is protected.

Avoid Smartphone Snafus

How easy is it for an employee to lose proprietary data by misplacing a cell phone in the back of a cab? If your mobile professionals use smartphones for work, make sure they’re equipped with strong encryption utilities. Also consider a policy against storing customer data on phones, even with encryption.

Aid Their Time Crunch

In-house personnel are shielded from the requirements of automatic, overnight backup procedures, but mobile staffers must often execute backups manually. And when they’re trying to work, it’s easy to justify killing a long backup session. To condense required backup times, look into a data deduplication (or dedupe) service. Deduplication backs up only new data; it doesn’t just look for new files, but for new segments within files. This process ensures that all new information is saved, but only a small amount of data is transferred.

It’s a Mobile World—for Better or for Worse

Ah, for those dear old days when computers stayed put and people moved around. Now we have a new world of smartphones, tablets and laptops. Sure, it’s led to nimbler, more productive employees, but consider the stressed out IT person who is responsible for securing all the data on all of those devices!

Trying to provide the same data storage options to a globe-trotting staff while keeping the enterprise secure is enough to make an IT pro throw up his or her hands in frustration. Think we’re exaggerating? Consider these pain points:

  • The Enterprise Strategy Group estimates that cloud-based storage will grow by 40 percent by 2012. Many organizations are considering moving all their backup needs to the cloud in the next two years. But can cloud services promise ironclad security from hackers?
  • If a mobile worker has a complete drive failure and needs to resync data without IT’s help, will your backup solution be easy enough for him or her to handle?
  • Mobile workers like to take control of their portable devices and may not be completely compliant with security policies. Some even install their own backup services.

Iron Mountain Suggests:
Security Can Be Mobile, Too

It’s a mobile world, and internal operations must adapt—even when it comes to remote data backups. Make it easier on your team by working with a data backup partner that has experience with secure, remote operations. Also, let these steps be your guide as you create a leak-proof shield for your mobile employees:

  • Conduct a software audit to make sure your mobile employees aren’t using unauthorized backup services. You can also check traffic patterns with your network administrator.
  • If working with a remote software-as-a-service (SaaS) company seems hazardous to you, consider a SaaS escrow service. An escrow service provides you with an extra layer of protection, so that you can keep running even if your partner company suffers an outage or goes out of business.
  • The data stored on your remote employees’ notebooks and tablets can be critical, especially if you need to search it for a legal request. Look for a solution that lets you quickly find needed materials on mobile devices.

Do you have questions about data backup and recovery? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s Data Backup and Recovery team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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