Cloud Backup Strategy for Fighting Ransomware with Immutable Storage
This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this submission, Wasabi co-founder and CEO David Friend offers a cloud backup strategy for fighting ransomware with immutable storage.
Global ransomware attacks soared in 2021, with the world seeing a dramatic 105 percent surge. The outlook wasn’t much better in North America, with breaches rising a similar 104 percent. These numbers are frightening, and will likely only increase as remote employees continue to work outside of their office networks and bad actors hone their skills.
So, what are we doing wrong? What has become clear is that no level of high-tech prevention will thwart these attacks. We must assume that cyber criminals will almost always find a way to get in, oftentimes through human vulnerabilities or mistakes such as downloading infected files or falling prey to phishing scams. Organizations have no choice but to shift their focus from prevention to protection by strengthening their cloud backup strategies.
There are a number of reasons why backups fail. Sometimes IT teams make the mistake of storing their backups on-premise where their data is essentially as exposed as their primary data set. Other times the data may have been backed up but not the application, or the backup itself was not fully complete. These blunders will quickly be identified and taken advantage of by cyber-criminals, leaving organizations in an unpleasant ransomware predicament. But there are a few basic strategies that can be leveraged to help strengthen cloud backups and mitigate the effects of these ransomware attacks.
Some Backup Fundamentals
When building out their backup defenses, organizations should ensure they follow several fundamental principles. First, they must avoid leaving all of their eggs or “data” in one basket by diversifying their cloud backups. This often takes the form of a “3-2-1” backup approach which entails keeping three copies of data, with two on different media formats and one of those being off-site. This strategy prevents hackers from locking and encrypting every data copy, enabling organizations to continue functioning during an attack and ultimately reducing downtime.
Recovery testing is another process teams should leverage in their cloud backup strategies. In the event of an attack, companies that have correctly backed up their data to the cloud have the ability to quickly dispose of the ransomware by clearing its slate and restoring and recovering that data with little downtime. This recovery process can be both technical and time consuming and should be tested by IT teams to identify and address any weaknesses ahead of a real attack. Fortunately, the cloud gives organizations easy access to their data so that teams can seamlessly test their recovery process in advance.
Taking Backups One Step Further with Object-Level Immutability
After building this basic backup foundation, there is an additional level of protection that reigns above it all. Object-level immutability is an underutilized way to backup and protect data against ransomware and cyber threats that ensures certain files and “objects” cannot be tampered with (i.e. encrypted), modified, or deleted by anyone, even a systems administrator.
Some bad actors will specifically target cloud backups to extort money from organizations. But by leveraging the immutable storage capabilities offered by their cloud provider, teams can guarantee that there is no weak link between their active data and backup copy, which is vital to reducing the effects of ransomware attacks. Immutable storage can also be key to preventing ransomware attacks from the start, where cyber-criminals often attempt to encrypt the data. It’s in many organizations’ best interest to take advantage of their cloud provider’s immutable storage offerings, and the cloud gives IT teams the flexibility needed to support their immutable backup options (i.e. having one immutable set of backups in parallel to another set that can still be accessed if needed).
It is clear that ransomware and cyber threats will not disappear any time soon. As a result, we will see more organizations leverage additional cloud backup features to help mitigate the impact of these attacks. The need for capabilities like object-level immutability is at an all-time high, adding another layer of protection that IT teams can no longer ignore. Organizations must do all they can and more to set themselves up to protect their most valuable asset – their data – against future cyber threats. And immutable storage holds the key to doing just this and neutralizing ransomware effects for business continuity.
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