Downtime can be a death sentence for your client relationships. Today’s users have little to no tolerance for slow or unavailable applications and systems, and they are perfectly willing to give your competitor's product a try if yours disappoints.

Ransomware and other cyberthreats are a leading cause of availability issues, so organizations must be proactive in their approach to mitigating the risk of successful cyberattacks.

Even the most technologically savvy companies are at risk for ransomware attacks—just ask global laptop giant Acer or even Honda. You might think these two huge companies would know better, but they were recently taken down by missed patches (Acer) and failure to segment networks (Honda).

Keeping those fun facts in mind, the good news is that it is possible to defend your data and systems against security breaches and recover quickly in the unfortunate event an attack succeeds. The key is to take a unified approach to data protection.

What Is Unified Data Protection?

Unified data protection is an all-in-one data and ransomware protection strategy that allows IT to neutralize ransomware attacks, restore data, and perform effective disaster recovery. 

Unified data protection is more effective at deterring cyberattacks and preventing data loss than piecemeal protection approaches because of several key factors. Unified data protection:

  • Provides visibility across complex infrastructures with centralized management and reporting tools
  • Reduces security vulnerabilities using advanced security technology
  • Streamlines recovery efforts by securing backups so systems and data can be restored quickly and completely
  • Protects across all workloads with integration for all environments, including private, public, and hybrid cloud; on-premises; and VM

5 Critical Security Steps to Unifying Data Protection

To ensure your IT team is doing all it can to protect the company’s data, systems, and applications from cyberthreats and to reduce the chance of extended downtime, incorporate these five steps into your security and data protection strategy.

1. Commit to transparency.

Consumers are rabidly protective of their personal data. Be sure to let them know you take data security seriously. Be clear about how their data is used, give them an option to opt out if possible, and use plain language so it is easy to understand your company’s data usage policies.

2. Hire experts.

Businesses worldwide are experiencing a major shortage in skilled technology professionals, especially those with data security skills. These days, hiring full-time staff with a wide range of subject matter expertise is not just cost-prohibitive for most organizations, but it is almost impossible because all of the skilled workers already have jobs. 

The best way around this predicament is to partner or contract with a managed IT services provider that employs experienced data security professionals and other skilled IT experts. This will give your organization access to legal, technical, operational, and disaster recovery-related insights as needed without the ongoing expense of full-time staff. 

3. Encrypt sensitive data.

Encryption adds protection for any data that could cause financial or reputational damage if stolen or exposed. By encrypting data when it is sent, received, and stored, you make it harder for hackers to access the data. If a data breach does occur, the data is useless without the decryption code.

It is important to note, however, that encryption only protects the encrypted files and systems. Cybercriminals can access data in other ways, such as via online files or email sent to an unencrypted endpoint.

4. Invest in cybersecurity insurance.

As the frequency and cost of recovery from ransomware attacks increases, cybersecurity insurance is getting more popular.  A cybersecurity policy can offset some of the expenses incurred thanks to a security event or breach, including data restoration, loss of revenue, and sometimes even the ransom payment.

Some cybersecurity policies include liability coverage for damages and settlements incurred through claims against the company.

5. Prioritize backup and recovery.

No conversation about data protection is complete until you discuss backup and disaster recovery strategies. Without proper backup, there is no recovery.

It is easy to have a false sense of security about your backups, but sadly, many organizations find out too late that they did it wrong. For backups to provide complete data protection and recover capabilities, IT must follow a few best practices, including:

  • Backup often so the data is current. Two-year-old data is useless when a ransomware attack encrypts your business-critical files and applications.
  • Test. Your. Backups. This cannot be emphasized enough. Don’t wait until the middle of a crisis to find out there’s a problem with your process.
  • Follow the 3-2-1-1 backup strategy to ensure there is an air-gapped backup copy of your data. Newer ransomware strains are targeting backup files, so keep a copy completely separated from the network so data can be restored to its pre-security-event condition.


Effective cybersecurity and data protection is a moving target. What works today might not work tomorrow. As the amount of data being generated globally skyrockets, cybercriminals will continue to release new threats and evolve old ones to gain access to this data. Download The 2020 Data Attack Surface Report to learn how exponential data growth increases cybercrime and how organizations can better protect their security perimeters.

Download The 2020 Data Attack Surface Report