How Cyber Protection Trends are Evolving in 2020

Has you business experienced data loss resulting in downtime this year?

This year’s World Cyber Protection Week survey results offer a wealth of insight into how individuals and IT professionals are approaching the challenges of increasing complexity, cost, and vulnerability. And while there’s a great deal consumers, IT professionals, and service providers can learn from these survey findings, viewing them in a silo ignores some important, broader context.

To offer a clearer picture of what this year’s survey means, we’ve compared our 2020 findings with responses from personal users and IT professionals in all of our previous survey iterations. This comparison presents a robust perspective of how data-defense priorities have evolved over time, and how cyber protection’s modern, comprehensive approach to safeguarding data, applications, and systems is poised to become even more necessary in the months and years ahead.

Personal User Response Trends

For five years, we’ve surveyed IT-savvy individuals to learn about their experiences with backup and recovery, data loss, and more. As personal users around the world take strides toward becoming #CyberFit, these findings have shown a marked increase both in awareness of protection challenges and active work to overcome them.

Data loss experiences

Have you or a family member ever lost data or devices?

As we reported in last year’s survey findings, 2019 saw a dramatic about-face in the percentage of personal users who had lost data or devices. This year that percentage continued to grow with an additional 3% of individuals reporting data or device loss experiences in their home over last year. Today, 68% of personal users have experienced a data or device loss event.

Backup storage destinations

How do you currently back up your personal files?

Personal users increased the frequency of their backups from 2019 to 2020 – the largest segment of responses moving from annual backups to monthly backups. While that’s a step in the right direction, it’s still far from a backup best practice. At the same time, this year’s findings included a concerning 2% rise in individuals that don’t back up at all.

Also worth noting, our 2020 responses saw a 5% increase in personal users backing up to the cloud and a 7% increase in personal users backing up to a combination of local and cloud destinations. While a positive trend, this segment – users following the hybrid-backup best practice – is still down 3% from 2018 and still only represents 17% of all personal users who responded.

Reasons for not backing up

Why don't you back up these devices?

For the small percentage of individuals who aren’t backing up their data and devices at all – 9% of personal users in 2020 – the primary reason is a belief that backups simply aren’t necessary. Nearly half (49%) of individuals claimed this, a 2% increase from the previous year’s response. This significant segment could indicate two distinct gaps in understanding: either these users underestimate the risk modern cyberthreats pose or they underestimate the importance of defending that data. In either case, this relatively consistent belief from 2019 to 2020 represents an opportunity for professionals in the IT industry to increase education and stress the necessity of modern cyber protection.

Cyberthreat concerns

How concerned are you about these cyberthreats?

Our 2020 survey found personal users significantly more aware of and concerned about modern cyberthreats. Concern over ransomware rose 29% over last year. Similarly, cryptojacking (illegal cryptomining malware) concern grew by 31% and concern over social engineering attacks (e.g. phishing) grew by 34% in just one year. This explosion in awareness makes sense given the relentless stream of headlines related to these cyberthreats, which have filled the news in the last year alone.

IT Professional Response Trends

Historically, our World Backup Day surveys were reserved for personal users but last year we expanded our survey scope to include IT professionals around the globe. This year, we’re excited to take a look back at the first year-over-year analysis from our IT department responders. We were curious to see how they’ve worked toward becoming #CyberFit in just one year.

Back up frequency

How often do you back up the IT components you're responsible for?

This year’s World Cyber Protection Week survey found both positives and negatives in the backup habits of IT professionals. Generally, organizations are backing up the data and devices they’re responsible for with great frequency – shifting from a monthly schedule last year to a weekly or even daily schedule this year.

The largest single segment of IT professionals (28%) reported that they back up these IT components at least once a week. Unfortunately, that means that if those organizations or those who back up even more infrequently were to have a data loss event they would still lose multiple days’ worth of work – something that all too many organizations have experienced this year.

Backup storage destinations

Where do you back up to?

When storing these backups, IT professionals have remained consistent with their storage destination preferences. With the exception of “replication to another data center (colocation, alternate corporate data center, disaster recovery site, etc.)”, a new option added in this year’s survey, IT pros maintained the same approach they elected in 2019.

More than one-third of respondents (36%) store backups in “cloud storage (Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, AWS, Acronis Cloud, etc.)”. A quarter of all IT pro respondents store backups “locally on an on-premises storage device (tape drives, storage array, PBBA, etc.)” and 20% use a hybrid of local and cloud backup storage.

Of course, the hybrid backup method remains the recognized best practice to ensure data safety, meaning that four out of five IT professionals are choosing less reliable and redundant backup procedures – a choice that could increase the risks data loss and cyberthreats pose.

Data loss and downtime

Has you business experienced data loss resulting in downtime this year?

Based on these frequency and storage decisions, it should come as no surprise that the percentage of IT professionals who have experienced data loss leading to downtime rose significantly. This year, 43% of organizations had at least one such data loss incident, a 12% rise from 2019. That means nearly half of all IT professionals saw data loss and downtime this year, a significant problem considering that a single hour of downtime could cost an organization as much as $300,000.

Even more shocking, 9% of IT professionals indicated that they didn’t know whether or not their company had suffered from data loss that resulted in downtime. That’s nearly one in every ten IT professionals that can’t confidently speak to the consistent protection and availability of their IT environment.

Cyberthreat concerns

How concerned are you about these cyberthreats?

What makes this lack of knowledge even more concerning is that in regard to all cyberthreats, IT professionals are less concerned than they were in 2019. While concern remains high: 88% for ransomware, 86% for cryptojacking, and 87% for social engineering attacks like phishing, concern has dropped by at least 2% across the board.

This trend implies that IT professionals today are more confident in their ability to evade or overcome cyberthreats. As seen in the rise of data loss statistic above however, that isn’t true today and it is unlikely to be true in the days ahead with cyberthreats continuing to grow in sophistication.

Final Thoughts

When compared to previous iterations, this year’s World Cyber Protection Week survey paints a picture of personal and professional users alike growing in awareness, confidence, and practices as they confront a digital world that’s getting more critical, more complicated, and more dangerous each year. Many of these trends show positive growth as data protection and cybersecurity become more integrated into our daily lives, but all trends speak to the need for something more.

Today, people and organizations are doing more to protect themselves and still see the data they rely on vanish because they’re trusting it all to a patchwork of solutions that inevitably leave gaps in their defenses. Acronis Cyber Protection solutions help to fill these gaps and unify protection for all your data, applications, and systems in a single, easy-to-manage UI. Knowing your personal, business, and client data is safeguarded at all times and all locations has never been easier or more efficient.

What’s more, with the upcoming release of Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud, this comprehensive approach to protection rises to a new level, giving service providers specifically even more powerful, integrated capabilities to ensure their clients can rest easy. Learn more about Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud and join the beta here.

Want to share our survey results or join the conversation discussing them? Use #CyberFit or #CyberProtectionWeek to add your thoughts.