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Why Protecting Your Data is Key in the Fight Against Ransomware

Gary Breder

Tom Christensen

Global Technology Advisor and Executive Analyst at Hitachi Vantara

At Hitachi Vantara, Tom Christensen works in the information technology and services industry. He has 30+ years of skilled experience in modernizing data center from infrastructure including compute and storage to hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud, application modernization, solution applications, DataOps, and big data analytics. Tim is a blogger and advocate for social innovation.

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As our lives have become increasingly more digitally focused, so has crime. With the pandemic accelerating the shift to working from home, what can organizations do to safeguard their data from being held hostage?

According to ESG's 2022 Technology Spending survey, 63% of organizations have been exposed to ransomware, 48% have been victim of a successful attack, and 22% have been hit multiple times. Attacks are on the rise because it’s easier than ever for criminals to launch an attack, and because organizations are paying the ransoms to free their valuable data.

In our digital age, companies simply can’t function without availability and access to data. As such, ransomware affects the entire organization from a CEO who is suddenly in a negotiation phase, to the IT department trying to get its head around the encrypted data.

There are primarily three major types of cyberattacks: malware, phishing, and ransomware. Malware is a general term for malicious software. Phishing refers to the process of deceiving recipients into sharing sensitive information with an unknown third party. But the most harmful of this dark triad is ransomware which specifically refers to being denied access to your data or computer until you pay a ransom.

Ransomware is a major problem that only continues to increase as we move into 2022. Storage administrators and IT infrastructure teams play a significant role in how data is protected and stored in a holistic cybersecurity strategy.

It is not enough to continue with what we have been doing for many years – just adding more storage to the data center – we need to incorporate immutable storage and encryption technology and optimize the recovery process.

Rather, organizations need to double down on data storage not only as a viable, but a critical component of the data protection strategy. And key to this strategy is the addition of an immutable capacity layer in which critical copies of data are “locked down” either in the secure zone in the data center, near cloud or public cloud. When implemented, ransom attacks simply cannot get to your data.

Adding immutable storage capacity, which comes in the form of write-once-read-many (WORM) drives, not only protect data, but also stores backups in immutable storage. It is crucial to implement a multi-layered data protection strategy where hackers cannot tamper with your data.

Fail Fast, Recover Even Faster

Once hit by a cyberattack like ransomware, it’s critical that your business resumes operations as quickly as possible to avoid damage to finances, reputation, and legal standing. It is also important to ensure that the data recovered is the most up to date as possible. How often have you attempted to recover a file only to discover the last salvageable version is days, even weeks, old? Again, in certain circumstances or industries, such as healthcare, this could result in irreparable damage. Successful implementation allows for immutability by both automatic defaults and by design.

To gain deeper insight into these challenges and uncover ways of developing strategies that equip organizations with a ransomware strategy, I recently participated in a series of virtual roundtable events held by VMware’s Meet the Boss, and then another by Nimbus Ninety, with C-Level and senior peers. Having reflected on previous conversations I’d had with CIOs, we invited participants to reflect upon the efficacy of their organization’s ransomware resiliency plans. It was noted that when implementing these plans, it is not only necessary to organize them, but to rigorously test them. It is no good having a stellar ransomware attack strategy without identifying the cracks in the defenses internally. However, it was noted that there is frequent hesitancy in doing so despite what is at stake.

There are ways to gird your organization to withstand a ransomware attack. And make no mistake, hoping you don’t get exposed is not a strategy. If you’re only now learning about the need, I highly recommend you start by 1. Acknowledging the severity of the threat; 2. Implementing adequate levels of safeguards, like immutable storage; and 3. Instituting processes to ensure the measures are tested to their limit. We’ve been engaged in helping customers take these very steps for years.

Although you may not be able to stop a ransomware attack, you can certainly deflect it and thwart its negative impact.

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