3-2-1: this is how to keep your data safe!

Healthcare facilities in particular have had to deal with it in recent weeks: attacks by hackers through system leaks. Not entirely coincidentally, in our previous blog we discussed the ransomware attacks suffered by the universities of Maastricht and Giessen, Germany. Such news warrants the question of how to keep our data safe.


First, it is good to separate active data from archival data. If the archive data is kept write-protected (hardware WORM), a ransomware attack on it is impossible. That’s already one less worry. A second point is to establish a perfect backup strategy for the data that are changed frequently. Well known is the so-called 3-2-1 rule. This stands for: 3 copies on 2 different media, 1 of which is stored externally.

And this is how you do it

This rule is several decades old, but still applies. With external storage, you are assured of data retention in case of fire or other disaster. By storing on two different media, you have the advantage that one of the two media can be read out. There are times when a storage method falls out of favor. That happened not long ago with Flash Disks: after four years of operation, these disks stopped working due to a software bug and were also not recoverable. Anyone who had work data AND backup on this system had a serious problem.

Additional line

To the 3-2-1 rule, we like to add another small but not unimportant rule. Make sure you can put a copy offline. In fact, some ransomware variants encrypt the backup first. If you have all three of those online, they can be accessed by hackers, and if that happens, they are worthless. So perhaps the 3-2-1 rule should be described as follows: make 3 copies, on 2 different media of which at least 1 is external and then still 1 with an airgap.

Want to learn more about a good archive and backup policy? Find out what Comex can do!

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