February 24, 2023

3 min

Protecting Data in a Hybrid Cloud

By improving the security of their backup solutions and access systems, organizations can bounce back more  effectively from a cyberattack.

Hybrid cloud environments have evolved significantly in recent years. Many early adopters limited their use of cloud services to long-term storage for backup data, but over time, IT professionals have become more comfortable with relying on cloud service providers.

Now, we see organizations across numerous industries moving more applications to the cloud. They’re adopting Software, Infrastructure and Platform as a Service. The widespread migration of data and workloads to multiple cloud environments has greatly changed the business considerations of many organizations, as well as their approach to data protection. It's becoming a whole new world out there.

As cloud environments become widespread and more complex, many IT teams face a challenge in understanding them. Some IT leaders believe that because their data and workloads reside in the cloud, they are inherently protected from cyberthreats. However, any cloud environment has its own security requirements as well as needs for backup. Data still must be protected even though it resides in a highly resilient platform like the cloud.

Key Steps for Data Protection in the Cloud

Organizations can take steps to better protect their data and applications in the cloud. First, they should understand the need for protection. Data is very valuable, and it remains vulnerable even in SaaS platforms, where it can be targeted by attackers. IT teams should use a security application to protect their data and also separate backup data from their production environment, even though it may reside in the cloud.

For example, many organizations have adopted Microsoft Office 365 and shut down the on-premises versions of their Microsoft applications. They still need to take steps to protect their data, even though it resides in Microsoft’s cloud. In its licensing agreements with customers, Microsoft recommends that organizations use a third-party application to protect their data. That's the first step organizations can take to back up and protect their cloud data, and it's a relatively simple one because many providers offer their own easy-to-use, SaaS-based applications for that purpose. 

Organizations also should consider tools to improve their cyber recovery capabilities. I recommend they find a tested, trusted data protection application that uses a multilayered security approach (including tools such as multifactor authentication and time source validation) and provides immutable storage capabilities. IT teams also should take additional steps to protect Active Directory. This is essential because a breach of Active Directory could compromise an organization’s entire environment. Solutions that secure Active Directory and provide optimized backup and recovery can greatly enhance an organization's data recoverability in the event of a breach.

The Benefits of Data Protection

Working with organizations on data protection, I try to make sure they understand the benefits they can expect from adopting these tools. The most important benefit is cyber recovery. Nearly every organization I work with has a strong understanding of disaster recovery, but some need more information about recovery from cyberthreats. 

By improving the security of their data protection solution as well as protecting Active Directory, organizations can expect a much quicker recovery if they are hit by a cyberattack. Unfortunately, some clients don't follow the guidelines; if attacked, they may be unable to recover at all.

Ultimately, in a security environment where cyberthreats are so widespread, recovery is an essential capability. Organizations should take steps to protect data in their hybrid cloud environments and bolster their recovery capabilities.

Story by Jason Cray

Protect and manage all your data no matter where it lives.

Jason Cray

CDW Expert
Jason Cray, a data protection strategist at CDW, is responsible for researching the data protection industry, threats to our clients, and advises clients. He is an expert in data backup, data protection, disaster and cyber recovery. He educates clients on the differences between disaster and cyber recovery. He tests data protection products and develops intellectual property to present to clients.