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Three ways to secure backups

There are three major areas you need to be concerned with when designing a secure backup system.

What you will learn from this tip: Securing communications, access and media are key elements to keeping backup safe and sound.


Although securing your backup and recovery system to prevent intrusion or data compromise is a multi-faceted (some would say never-ending) job, there are three major areas you need to be concerned with when designing a secure backup system.

The first is secure communications. This is increasingly important as remote management, remote mirroring and other technologies become more popular. A remote mirroring strategy, for example, can make your storage system more fault-tolerant and reliable, but unless the link between the mirrors is properly protected it can also make the system less secure. Securing the link includes using backup applications that support effective encryption (preferably support for several different methods of secure encryption) and sophisticated port blocking on the network.

The second need is for secure access. Your backup architecture and the policies that support it should control access and especially management access. These policies not only need to be in place, they need to be effective and thoroughly implemented. Access is one of the most vulnerable parts of any computer security system because all authorized users have to comply with all the policies all the time. This applies even with a group as sophisticated as backup managers.

The third requirement is to secure the media. Making the backup is only the beginning of backup security. The media has to be handled and stored securely. The media that are stored remotely from the main facility, such as remote backups or backups at branch offices, need special attention. Media, such as tapes and optical disks, should only be handled by authorized personnel and should be kept in a secure, access-restricted, area at all times. When a tape reaches the end of its useful life, the information on it should be rendered unreadable before it is discarded.

For more information:

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Tip: A two-dimensional approach to storage security

About the author: Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80 K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last 20 years, he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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