Google Workspace, formerly G Suite, is an office productivity suite used by businesses worldwide to facilitate organization, collaboration and storage of company information. Google Workspace offers impactful tools to help businesses unify workflows, improve communication and increase productivity. However, the platform is susceptible to cyberattacks. In April 2023, the zero-day vulnerability dubbed GhostToken allowed hackers to attack Google accounts and potentially target Google Workspace accounts.
Google’s data usage policies include a detailed Cloud Data Processing Addendum which outlines processes, security measures and handling of customer data. The addendum also frames ownership of responsibilities for protecting certain assets and implementing specific security measures. For most small and midsize businesses, the lengthy addendum provided by Google is a time-consuming, tedious and complex resource that’s difficult to use. To determine who is responsible for protecting individual assets, implementing particular security measures, and identifying the controller, and untangling stipulations according to regional data compliance, the addendum isn’t a feasible or effective way to ensure complete protection. Moreover, Google built-in backup does not protect all states of data. With cyberthreats looming, backing up Google Workspace for Business has become increasingly important for gaining holistic control and visibility over your data and to protect your business from disaster.
This blog provides guidance to organizations concerned with protecting Google Workspace data, gaining a better understanding of backup options, and creating fundamental security measures to better protect valuable business information.
Understanding Google Workspace Data
Google Workspace’s most popular features are designed to help businesses streamline office operations. From emails, spreadsheets, video calls, cloud storage and all of the above, Google Workspace provides innovative productivity capabilities to seamlessly manage business workflows. Although Google includes its own measures to secure cloud infrastructure and keep identities, apps and devices safe, these default measures alone are not enough to prevent and protect Google Workspace-housed data against modern cyberattacks — like malware.
Why is it important to back up Google Workspace data?
Ransomware spiked 62% in March over monthly average in Q1 of 2023, according to the Acronis Mid-year Cyberthreats Report. With widespread infections growing, Google Cloud environments, like Google Workspace have become a high-stakes target for cyber intrusions. You need to consider implementing Google Workspace data backup to reduce your risk.
Here are a few important reasons to back up your Google Workspace data:
- Safeguard business continuity
- Recover lost data quickly
- Prevent data loss or corruption
- Mitigate reputational and financial damage in the face of an attack
- Avoid regulatory compliance fines
What are the different types of data in Google Workspace?
To understand what services and data are covered by Google’s data region policy, let’s quickly define the three main states of data
Data at rest:
Data that is not currently in use, being accessed or transferred in storage.
Data in motion:
Data that is being transferred or moved from one location to another, either between computer systems or within a computer.
Data in use:
Data that is being used, updated, processed, accessed or read.
According to Google’s data region policies, only primary Google Workspace data is backed up for disaster recoveries and business continuity. Only protecting the data at rest, Google Workspace primary data includes:
Data region policies cover the primary data at rest (including backups) for these Google Workspace core services:
This means your company is responsible for the backups of all other Google Workspace data in other states such as in motion and in use.
Google Workspace backup options
Google Workspace includes built-in redundancy and recovery features, but it does not provide comprehensive backup against today’s disasters. The out-of-box Google features are nowhere near a full-fledged backup solution and their primary function to only ensure service availability remains uninterrupted. The default protection is designed to only prevent Google customer data loss due to a Google infrastructure failure or similar issue.
Google’s native backup options, include Google Vault, Google Takeout and Google Workspace Migrate.
Built-in Google Workspace backup capabilities
Let’s take a look at the built-in Google data protection features can do:
- Native recovery
- Google Vault for archiving eDiscovery
- Google Vault Expained
- Legal Holds
- Retention Policies
- Audit Traits
Advantages and Disadvantages
Limitation data is archived solely from specific Google Workspace apps and other apps, like Microsoft teams and slack, will need additional tools to help safeguard and archive data
o Limited data sources
o Limited data retention
o Can’t be modified and is not customizable
o Limited search capabilities
o No real-time monitoring
o User management is limited and reporting
Limitations of Google Workspace built-in backup
The data stored in Google Workspace provides moderate protection that’s primarily effective against hardware failures or system crashes, but not adept to protect against malicious activity, data loss caused by third-party apps or user error.
Today’s industry-leading backup solutions are designed to protect your critical assets across all three states of data and reduce the risk of ransomware, phishing, unauthorized access and malicious hackers. Third-party backup solutions, like Acronis Cyber Protect, fill the security gaps within Google Workspace environments and provide enhanced data protection and backup where Google’s built-in backup capabilities lack.
Flexible backup and restore policies
Well-rounded backup solutions give businesses the ability to customize, configure and adjust backup and restore policies to suit the needs of the business. During a cyber incident, it’s integral to prevent infected data from being restored and safeguard unaffected data. Backup solutions with a built-in malware scanner help find and remove lurking threats and malicious artifacts from your backups to ensure clean, full recovery. Other features to consider, include anti-ransomware technology, rapid restore capabilities and flexible reporting and monitoring of backups that proactively secure backed up data and customize alerts for security admins.
Scalability for your business’ growth
As your organization expands and grows, your teams start to accumulate, use and share high volumes of data in Google Workspaces. The management of data, gatekeeping who should have access to certain assets and safeguarding backups can be a tremendous challenge. Not only does your organization need to bolster data protection, but your business needs right solution that won’t disrupt your system’s performance. With so many backups, you’ll want to make sure your solution provides comprehensive protection and is capable of maintaining backups without sacrificing performance.
You want to avoid clunky, legacy backups that often aren’t equipped to handle the needs of modern-day businesses. These outdated solutions contribute to slow backup speeds, network inefficiencies and slow restoration — factors which disrupt your business’ operations and significantly increase downtime.
Protection for all data states
One of the greatest pitfalls of Google’s built-in backup tool is its inability to protect in-motion and in-use data. Finding a solution that protects all three states of data will help protect your business as your team’s data workflows will shift between these states. In particular, when data is transferred, altered and used throughout your organization internally and shared with external parties, a backup solution with proactive, active and reactive protection is the most reliable and secure way to safeguard valuable information in case of disaster.
Securing organizational data with encryption is one of the most common ways to protect at-rest, in-motion and in-use data. Companies can adopt automated protocols to keep track of and monitor data as it switches between states. When your business achieves greater visibility into data and backup environments, you will become more aware of the assets most susceptible to exploitation and the states at which critical data will be most vulnerable. Identifying the scope of high-value assets that shift between data states empowers your IT security professionals and leadership to gain a deeper understanding of the organization’s risk profile.
Best practices to secure Google Workspace data backup in five steps
If you’re concerned about the vulnerabilities and limitations provided in Google Workspace’s built-in backup tools, Acronis has outlined critical steps to enhance your business’s protection over data within Google Workspace environments.
Step 1: Understand your needs
Gaining a deep understanding of your business’s needs will ensure the most critical information within Google Workspace is easily accessible and secure. Factors to consider when assessing your company’s data protection needs will depend on your company’s size, industry regulatory compliance, the number of team members using Google Workspace and current content management strategy of Google Workspace assets.
Step 2: Get a company Google policy
Your organization should adhere to company-wide policies that summarize and outline the people, processes and technologies relevant to protecting Google Workspace data. “Google policies” are not a one-size-fits-all approach since the needs of every company will differ depending on firmographics.
Step 3: Implement comprehensive backup protection
Third-party backup solutions are crucial to defending your business continuity and mitigating downtime in a cyberevent. Implementing third-party backup solutions, like Acronis Cyber Protect, has several key benefits to comprehensively secure data within Gmail, GDrive, Google Contacts and Google Calendar. Cloud backup tools will allow your business to scale backup without disrupting system performance. Moreover, third-party backup solutions are designed with features to accelerate the recovery process, including point-in-time recovery, long-term data retention and a user-friendly console that simplifies recovering lost data for MSP technicians and IT security teams. Other essential features to consider include incremental backups, compression and deduplication , and cloud-to-cloud backup. Should your organization experience a data breach, Acronis Cyber Protect lets your business search for specific Google Workspace items before recovering and easily download critical files or attachments from backup.
Step 4: Regularly monitor and check backup logs
When choosing a backup solution to improve Google Workspace data protection, you’ll want to select a solution that uses end-to-end encryption of data during transit and at rest, provides detailed audit trails and creates logs of backups. Regulatory compliance like GDPR and HIPAA require strict documentation and records of data subject requests and audit logs that record all activities within backup environments containing personal data. Through a demonstrated track record of your company’s policies, procedures and operations on backups, you can prove you’ve acted in good faith to protect critical data across Google Workspace.
Step 5: Manage and review backup policies
As businesses grow, your organization’s data protection needs, challenges and requirements will change. You will have to revisit backup policies and adjust according to how often backups should be performed, where the backups will be located, who can access backed-up information and other ground rules. Third-party backup solutions, like Acronis Cyber Protect, make it easy to seamlessly configure and customize policies.
Common mistakes to avoid in Google Workspace data backup
The top three mistakes most companies make when storing, using and transferring Google Workspace data and backing up, include:
1. Relying too much on Google’s built-in backup tools that provide insufficient protection in today’s threat landscape
2. Not having automated capabilities like automatic backup protection to detect new Google Workspace users and automatically protect newly added data.
3. Lacking blockchain-based verification which verifies the authenticity of files and Drive backups to ensure the integrity of your data.
Learn more about Acronis Cyber Protect Google Workspace Cloud Backup with ready-to-use backup options that address the top three common mistakes most businesses make when backing up Google Workspace repositories.
In business landscapes, the importance of backing up Google Workspace data can’t be emphasized enough. In a digital world where protecting company crowned jewels could make or break the success of your business, developing a well-structured and robust backup strategy is key to preventing data loss — fortifying strong trust with your customer, complying with industry standards and strengthening your business operations. Not only is it important to protect Google Workspace data, but also to reinforce spadework toward your business’ data-rich digital future.
Acronis is a Swiss company, founded in Singapore. Celebrating two decades of innovation, Acronis has more than 2,000 employees in 45 locations. Acronis Cyber Protect solution is available in 26 languages in over 150 countries and is used by 18,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.