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Is your backup the last line of defense against Ransomware?

January 16, 2018 • Backup and Storage, Opinion, Security

Is your backup the last line of defense against Ransomware?

Iniel Dreyer, Managing Director at Gabsten Technologies

Every 40 seconds a business falls victim to a ransomware attack, according to a recent story by the Forbes Technology Council. In fact, ransomware is being hailed as the greatest threat to businesses, and a report by Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that global ransomware damage costs will exceed $11.5 billion annually by 2019.

While ransomware continues to propagate, data is soaring in value, being viewed as a commodity more valuable than oil. Organisations are increasingly reliant on data as a business asset, combining it with analytics and other data tools to boost and build their business beyond the growth of their competitors. Data is also integral to operational and system functionality, with many applications and software being dependent on incoming and outgoing data streams.

The loss of data, whether permanently or temporarily can cause untold damage to your business, from financial losses, to reputational damage, to complete system failure and shut down. Any or all of these can send your company into complete decline, unable to recover from the loss.

The simple fact is, businesses cannot afford to lose data to the likes of ransomware and you need to ensure that your organisation is protected as best as possible. However, new ransomware strains are introduced daily and, despite the number of security mechanisms and tools you may have in place, there are no guarantees that they will hold up against whatever latest strain is released. Which is why you need to have a solid backup in place – it could be the last line of defense against the effects of ransomware.

Most organisations have some form of backup in place. While backups won’t prevent ransomware attacks, they can help organisations to recover from them. Depending on the type of backup used and the amount of data lost, orgnisations can recover from a ransomware attacks in as little as a few hours. Some businesses are reverting to old form backups, such as tapes, to securely store their data and protect against cyber-attack. Unfortunately, this is not always practical or efficient, particularly when dealing with large volumes of data. So what do you need from a modern data backup solution to help your business to continue running after a ransomware attack?

There are many backup options available, from on-site solutions to cloud options. None of these solutions is completely immune to infection by ransomware, however there are options which take active steps to prevent the possibility of attack, and that help businesses to restore operations as quickly as possible. Here are some of the things to look out for when choosing a backup solution:

  • Multiple backups. Having a backup that merely overwrites data every day means that there is a chance it will unwittingly overwrite healthy data with data that has been compromised by ransomware, thus encrypting your backup and making it unusable. If your data falls prey to ransomware and you have multiple backup copies, once your systems re clear of infection, you can restore data using an earlier backup copy that is unaffected. It may mean losing a few days of data, but a few day’s data loss if infinitely preferable to total data loss.
  • Multiple locations. It is always recommended to backup data to two different locations, such as on site as well as in the cloud. If one backup is compromised, then you can rely on the other. Ensure your service provider is able to offer you location redundancy, backing up your data to two separate locations.
  • Data classification. It’s important to classify data, identifying what is critical and what is not. In this way, you can save money and space by backing up only what is important. This makes data restoration far easier, too.
  • Data security strategy. Whatever solution or provider you select, it is crucial to have a data security strategy. This will dictate the requirements for your backup, security mechanisms and process to follow in the event of a breach. This strategy should be reviewed annually however, with today’s fast paced malware evolution, quarterly would be best. Reviewing your strategy often can help to identify weak security gaps in the system, as well as cater for new and emerging malware, rather than only addressing these as they occur.

Data security is vital to protect your data from ransomware and other threats, however, having a solid, reliable backup place can ensure your business is able to restore and revert to normal as quickly as possible in the face of a breach.

By Iniel Dreyer, Managing Director at Gabsten Technologies


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