3 Things Star Wars Taught Us About Data Storage

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a farm boy on a desert planet joined an uprising while saving a princess from a dark lord. Just like that, one of the most popular cinematic stories of all time was created. What began with one film in 1977 rapidly developed into one of the most successful media empires in existence. Now, more than four decades after it was introduced to audiences worldwide, Star Wars remains a global pop culture sensation. 

    While doing my initial research for this article I came across quite an amazing factoid: George Lucas is truly a data backup and cloud storage buff! Knowing this bit of information, I began to see it throughout the Star Wars narrative. In the wake of this newfound knowledge and inspiration, I’d urge you to weigh the following to make sure your organization doesn’t endure the same struggles that Darth and the Skywalkers have over the course of their adventures.

    Have a Data Security Plan in Place

    It is pretty common knowledge that a decent data backup strategy starts with a strong approach to data security. With a data security plan in place, an organization can considerably reduce the chances of relying solely on backups. Sadly, the most minimal types of security appeared to be neglected throughout the Star Wars trilogy.

    The first eight installments of the trilogy are rampant with data security concerns, but possibly the most noticeable happens when Obi-Wan looks into the origins of a Kamino Saberdart. While looking for the planet Kamino in the Jedi Archives, he discovers a blank space. Yoda concludes to Obi-Wan that the planet has likely been deleted from the archives. 

    Some theories state that Jedi training was a specific type of password protection since the Force is required to manipulate the Jedi Archives. This wouldn’t be very wise considering there were numerous of trained Jedi in the galaxy, and their sworn enemies were force users. A great current day example would be both Google and Amazon offices sharing the same keycards. Not exactly infosec friendly to say the least! The Jedi had weak passwords with absolutely no permissions management.

    In an effort to prevent cyber criminals from potentially accessing your company’s vital data, it is good practice to perform regular reviews of your data security strategies. Double check that there are no glaring holes in your data security strategy, habitually change passwords, use two factor authentication, and ALWAYS use encryption. 

    Have a Backup Plan in Place

    Having a data backup plan in place is a key complement to any security strategy. As the Jedi learned, even when your security is set up perfectly, disaster can strike. Inadequate security management on both sides led to the destruction of 6 planets, the mutilation of 2 others, and the obliteration of a handful of super weapons.

    The best approach if such a plan is referred to as a 3-2-1 backup strategy. This means for every piece of data, you have the data itself, a backup copy on site (an external hard drive of some sort), and a final copy in the cloud. Now, I’ve come across several question regarding the use of a specific data storage medium used in the trilogy. So why does the Star Wars universe use such a basic technology as data-tapes? Simply put, backups are better on tape. The fewer moving parts an object has, the more robust it is. Additionally, the long-term life span of electronic memory is a dilemma, compared to that of tape. When you make a backup of something, you want it to be able to survive a long time. 

    We first see the blueprints for the super weapon when Count Dooku, decides that they would be in safe with Darth Sidious on Scarif. By the time Jynn Erso hears of the Stardust version of the plans for the Death Star, it appears that Scarif is the only place in the Galaxy where you could find a copy of the plans. In a way, the plans on Scarif served as the Empire’s cloud storage. All the Death Star needed was an external hard drive following it through space with an additional copy of the plans!

    If you only have one backup, it’s better than nothing. Not much better, but it is. Make certain that you’re using a 3-2-1 approach for a better backup strategy. Also consider a data backups allocated to different geographic regions in case of a natural disaster. Tape is great for this!

    Have a Version Control Plan in Place

    What good is to have backups if you don’t have the right information backed up? If we came away with one thing from the plans used to defeat the first Death Star, its that the Empire didn’t manage their version control. The backups that they had were not up to date. The focus lens for the superlaser is equatorial when the Death Star’s superlaser was actually on the northern hemisphere.

    To operate a reliable backup solution, it needs to run on a consistent basis. Sometimes daily or even more frequently depending on the situation and data on hand. Whatever backup strategy the Death Star was using, it had clearly gone askew. 

    Version History is also a critical piece to the backup puzzle. Version History lets users keep multiple versions of a file over extended periods of time, sometimes forever. Think if the Empire had set up a Version History. They could have reverted to the pre-final plans to destroy the Death Star.

    Whether you manage a small business or a universal enterprise, your data (assuming its properly secured and backed up) can mean the difference between domination and having your battle station blown into a million pieces across the dark void of space. Data security and backup doesn’t need to be a battle. Create a plan that works for you, ensure your data is secured, and verify every so often that it’s up to date with the most recent versions. May The Data Be With You.

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