Checklist: Time-Saving Tactics to Eliminate Google Workspace Data Loss


COUNTLESS ORGANIZATIONS SUCCESSFULLY NAVIGATED THE TRANSFORMATION TO A HYBRID WORKPLACE THROUGH USE OF CLOUD-BASED PRODUCTIVITY SUITES LIKE GOOGLE WORKSPACE. GOOGLE WORKSPACE, PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS GOOGLE APPS FOR WORK AND G SUITE, IS A SOFTWARE-AS-A-SERVICE (SaaS) PLATFORM DELIVERED BY GOOGLE.

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WORKSPACE IS AN EVOLVED VERSION G SUITE, DESIGNED FOR SEAMLESS INTEGRATION BETWEEN GOOGLE'S APPLICATIONS FOR PRODUCTIVITY, TEAM COLLABORATION AND COMMUNICATION. WHILE WORKSPACE IS THE PERFECT CLOUD-BASED PRODUCTIVITY SUITE FOR MANY, THE CHALLENGE NOW IS ENSURING YOUR GOOGLE WORKSPACE DATA IS SAFE.

GOOGLE WORKSPACE FOLLOWS THE SHARED RESPONSIBILITY MODEL, WHERE GOOGLE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR APPLICATION UPTIME AND EVERYTHING THAT ENTAILS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE INTEGRITY OF THE DATA CENTER — SECURITY, INFRASTRUCTURE AND OPERATIONS — TO ENSURE THE AVAILABILITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THEIR SERVICES. THE CUSTOMERS, ON THE OTHER HAND, ARE OPERATIONALLY AND CONTRACTUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INTEGRITY OF THEIR DOMAINS, SECURITY OF THEIR USER CREDENTIALS AND PROTECTION OF THEIR GOOGLE WORKSPACE DATA.

TOP REASONS WHY YOU NEED BACKUP FOR GOOGLE WORKSPACE

Google Workspace offers multiple benefits to businesses of all sizes. However, like any other SaaS apps, it is not risk-free. There are several reasons that could lead to data loss and/or put your company at risk. Let's have a closer look at some of the top reasons why your business must back up Google Workspace.

  • 1. HUMAN ERROR

    Humans are bound to make mistakes. Whether it's an end-user error, such as deleting important emails by mistake, or an admin error, such as deleting a user by mistake and losing all that user's associated email and data, human error is the leading cause of data loss in SaaS applications.

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  • 2. SYNC ERROR

    It's not uncommon for data loss to occur due to sync errors. When integrating with another application, deploying new devices or simply working within Google Workspace, sync errors can be a significant source of risk to business continuity.

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  • 3. INSIDER THREAT

    According to Verizon's 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, more than 20% of security incidents involved insiders. As per Cybersecurity Insiders' 2021 Insider Threat Report, almost all organizations (98%) surveyed said they feel vulnerable to insider attacks. However, many organizations are still ill-equipped to mitigate the risks they pose.

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  • 4. RANSOMWARE AND HACKING

    Ransomware and other attacks can be more damaging in SaaS productivity suites than in traditional tech environments. They can easily proliferate through shared folders and Drives — the very thing that makes Google Workspace a powerful collaboration tool is also what makes it even more vulnerable.

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  • 5. COMPLIANCE

    Loss of data can lead to non-compliance with regulations across a number of industries. For example, regulations governing data privacy — for instance, HIPAA in the healthcare field — may be violated if data is compromised by hackers. Your compliance with regulations related to data availability may also be at risk.

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HOW TO SAVE TIME AND KEEP YOUR GOOGLE WORKSPACE DATA SAFE

In today's always-on economy, you can ill afford disruptions due to SaaS data loss. The complexity of Google Workspace, from legacy design origins to the sheer volume of configurations and settings across the environment makes securing data a challenge.

The following checklists break down Google Workspace protection into three functional categories — prevention, anticipation and mitigation — to identify features and capabilities you should look for in a backup solution to minimize the risk of data loss and downtime.

PREVENTION

Google has invested in a number of native data protection capabilities, including malware and phishing protection and multifactor authentication (MFA), that are available for users at all license levels. This section discusses additional functionality that should be considered to secure the domain and reduce the risk and frequency of compromise. Where functionality is not offered natively, or else requires significant effort, determine whether your organization has the resources to leverage it or consider investing in a third-party solution to meet business requirements.

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Functionality

Description

Included with Google license plan?

Configurable Retention Policies

Businesses have specific data retention policies. For example, they are not to retain data older than a specific period — 1 year, 2 years, 4 years and so on. Your backup solution must support this requirement so you can define what data should be stored or archived, where that should happen and for how long.

Google Workspace retention rules are configured and applied in Vault, which may be purchased as an add-on for license levels below Business Plus.

Customizable Inclusions/Exclusions

Your backup solution should offer flexibility when choosing to protect a combination of Gmail, Drive (including Team Drives), Contacts, Calendars in Sites.

When using Google Cloud Directory Sync, you can use exclusion rules to omit data (users, profiles, groups) from a sync.

Backup Google Metadata

Metadata makes finding and working with particular instances of data hassle-free. For seamless recovery, your backup solution should back up metadata to preserve labels, sharing settings, folder structure and permissions.

Business Standard and Business Plus, Enterprise, Education Standard and Education Plus, G Suite Business and Essentials editions support labels, which are metadata that help you organize, find and apply policy to items in Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides.

Actionable Backup Status Reporting

The status reporting of your backup should detail what was backed up, what was not, why, and if any action is needed to resolve it. This enables you to identify what can and cannot be restored before a data loss event, enabling proactive remediation.

Google offers some basic troubleshooting tips on their support site for general problems that occur with Drive.

Unlimited Backup Storage

Limited backup storage often requires you to perform backups manually. This means you must scan every file in your backup and tag only those files and folders that must be absolutely backed up, which increases the risk of missing or overlooking important files. Look for a backup solution that offers unlimited backup storage space.

Only Google Workspace Enterprise edition offers flexible storage options (as much as you need).

Unlimited Versions for All Data

File versioning is critical for quick recovery when your files are lost or corrupted. It allows you to access the earlier versions of the files before they were lost/corrupted for quick restore. Since the number of files each employee in your company uses/creates increases every day, a backup solution that supports unlimited versioning of all data is critical.

Only Google Workspace Enterprise edition offers flexible storage options (as much as you need).

ANTICIPATION

This section discusses functionality required to identify and address potential compromises before data loss occurs. Where functionality is not offered natively, or else requires significant effort, determine whether your organization has the resources to leverage it or consider investing in a third-party solution to meet business requirements.

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Functionality

Description

Included with Google license plan?

Activity Monitoring

Threat actors leverage account takeover to move laterally within a domain to expand the scope of their attack.

There are tools for organizations of all sizes, including native tools from Google to monitor Google Workspace activity — examine potential security risks, track user behavior, understand how users create and share content and more. Keep a keen eye on third-party SaaS applications that use Legacy Service Accounts. These accounts entail the risky practice of storing privileged credentials, generally without MFA. Essentially, one hack of your service account is all it takes for a data breach to occur, which can possibly go unnoticed for several months — seven months on average.

While complex to configure and manage, Activity Monitoring is available for:

→ Enterprise Standard/Plus

Cloud Application Security

A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) adds safeguards to your organization's use of cloud services by enforcing enterprise security policies. If your organization uses more cloud applications than just Google Workspace, you may want to invest in a third-party CASB to extend control to third-party apps and API connections.

Google does not provide a native solution for cloud app security. You must purchase a third-party product to get this functionality.

Credentials Exposure Monitoring

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a must, but not perfect. Sophisticated hackers have developed methods to bypass second and third-layer security protections like MFA if users are not careful. Credential monitoring leverages AI and search tools to identify potentially compromised accounts. Implement a dark web monitoring solution along with MFA to identify potentially compromised accounts before malicious action takes place.

Google does not provide a native solution for credential monitoring. You must purchase a third-party product to get this functionality.

MITIGATION

This section discusses functionality required to minimize the negative impacts of data loss incidents. Where functionality is not offered natively, or else requires significant effort, determine whether your organization has the resources to leverage it or consider investing in a third-party solution to meet business requirements.

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Functionality

Description

Included with Google license plan?

eDiscovery

eDiscovery is the process of retaining and holding data for litigations and regulatory purposes. For instance, the eDiscovery tool in Google Vault allows you to search and export critical data for review during legal disputes, investigations or audits.

While complex to configure and manage, eDiscovery is available for:

→ Business Plus

→ Enterprise Standard/Plus

Archiving

Data archiving is storing data for long-term retention to meet compliance needs or internal policies. It helps preserve data that needs to be retained to meet compliance policy requirements and for future reference.

While complex to configure and manage, Archiving is available for:

→ Business Plus

→ Enterprise Standard/Plus

Backup With Point-in- Time Recovery

A good backup solution should be able to retrieve data from any specific point in time and then automatically restore it directly back into Google Workspace with no manual effort. It should be able to store the most recent or any previous point-in-time version with 100% accuracy and also restore metadata such as labels, file structures and sharing settings.

Google Drive deletes data in the trash after 30 days. Once emptied from trash, it is permanently purged form Google's systems after 25 days. Vault data cannot be restored directly to the user's Drive. It must first be exported and placed manually.

Granular Data Restoration

Be sure you have the option to restore everything, from a single document to every bit of data you have got. And check to see that older file versions don't overwrite new ones during the restore process, so that you have full control over what gets restored and how.

Google Drive has limitations on which deleted items you can recover; My Maps Files, Fusion Tables, data in user's trash and data purged from trash (25 days) is not recoverable.

Immutable Audit Logs

Documenting every activity within the software applications, devices in your network and cloud services used by your organization is critical to track user activity, investigate breaches and comply with industry regulations. Look for a backup solution that provides detailed, immutable audit log for all security and setting changes, and complete activity log including all user and admin exports with file-level details.

Google offers immutable Admin Activity and System Event audit logs for no additional charge. Data Access audit logs are available starting at $.50/GB with 30 days of log retention by default.

Cross-User Restore

Cross-user restore can be useful if your domain has a departed user and you need to transfer ownership of their data to another user, such as a new user, an admin or a temporary account. Your backup solution must allow admin users to restore backed up data from one user's account to the live Google Workspace account of another user in the same domain.

In order to transfer Drive files to a new owner, you must suspend the current owner's account and then can transfer ownership to an active account. Google recommends placing files in a shared drive instead.

Non-Destructive Restore

Many backup solutions tend to overwrite existing data when restoring old data from backup. Make sure your backup solution does not overwrite older backups with newer data. This allows you to restore any historical snapshot.

If your backup system has been backing up your data non-destructively, recovering from situations like sync-related data corruption or missing collection information is simple: you just restore from a known-good snapshot, delete the corrupted data and get on with your work.

Google Workspace backup products restore data nondestructively; however, they differ significantly in how they back up that data.

CONCLUSION

SaaS apps like Google Workspace have become a core business tool today. This means the amount of critical data being stored in the cloud is increasing significantly. Therefore, protecting your Google Workspace data is now more critical than ever.

Relying on minimal, time-consuming native options offered by Google, or choosing a backup solution that does not focus on restore, will not only increase the burden on your IT team, but will also put your business at risk. Organizations like yours do not have time for lengthy, complex and manual Google Workspace backup and recovery processes.

Spanning's cloud-native, purpose-built solutions for Google Workspace ensure your organization's critical data is well protected and always available for rapid restore, thereby keeping your business operational and employees productive. Moreover, Spanning's powerful yet easy-to-use capabilities empower end users as well as administrators to quickly find and restore data to its original state in just a few clicks.

DOWNLOAD OUR EBOOK TO KNOW THE SECRETS TO FINDING THE BEST GOOGLE WORKSPACE BACKUP SOLUTION TO KEEP YOUR BUSINESS AND DATA SAFE.

THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO BACKUP FOR GOOGLE WORKSPACE

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