Ransomware has posed a threat to companies for a long time. Technology has improved over the years, but the solutions that combat ransomware haven’t. Unfortunately, technology advancements have made ransomware an easy and inexpensive way for cybercriminals to make large sums of money off companies desperate to recover their data. So, if cybercriminals are taking advantage of new technology, why shouldn’t the businesses they’re trying to target?
When ransomware restricts access to their data and threatens to expose sensitive information to the public, companies need to find a way to make their data ransomware-proof. Ransomware can damage data and disrupt workflows, restricting access to data and handcuffing the organization’s ability to operate at full capacity and effectiveness.
Companies shouldn’t wait to act. The ransomware threat demands a solution right now. There was a 93% increase in cyber attacks from 2020 to 2021, and those numbers aren’t going down. When it comes to cyber attacks, it’s not a question of if it will happen, but a matter of when.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to ransomware. The good news is that there are effective solutions already available to protect against and enable recovery from ransomware attacks. Data resilience is one of those solutions.
What is data resilience?
Data resilience describes a company’s ability to avoid unexpected disruptions to its data and workflow. Often part of a company’s disaster recovery plan, resilience can be achieved using several strategies, including backup, replication, redundancy, and cloud storage.
Data resilience is critical for any organization seeking to protect its data from ransomware attacks. Not only does it help prevent data loss, but it can also safeguard a company’s reputation. How so? Any downtime a company experiences could result in customer dissatisfaction and a loss of trust or business. And while data can be recovered quickly, a tarnished reputation can take years to rebuild.
Achieving data redundancy is often the first step in establishing data resilience. Data redundancy ensures that if one element fails, a redundant element can take over seamlessly. This failsafe is made possible by storing copies of data in several different locations so that companies can continue operations if their data in one location is corrupted or lost.
In an ideal world, users within a company would never know a disruption occurred, and critical operations could continue as usual. The difference between backups and resilience is that backups help companies rebuild systems after an attack, while resilience keeps the systems up and running during an attack.
Without data resilience in place, companies can suffer major consequences. Critical and sensitive data can be lost, damaged, or destroyed. Organizational productivity could take a hit. There could be negative legal and regulatory impacts. Ransomware could harm a company’s reputation. Companies could lose money to cybercriminals. And customers and suppliers could be disappointed.
To avoid these consequences, companies should implement controls to quickly detect, respond to, and recover from ransomware attacks. Let’s look at how companies can better safeguard their data against ransomware through data resilience, security, and recovery.
Comparing data resilience with data security and recovery
While data resilience, security, and recovery are often used in the same context, they each have explicit purposes and meanings regarding data protection. Regardless of their industry, businesses must understand what each of these terms means and how they can aid in the fight against ransomware.
Data security is the proactive measures a company takes to protect its data. In a nutshell, data security refers to anything that locks up data against attackers. While security measures — such as firewalls — can keep attacks at bay, they can’t guarantee that cybercriminals won’t break through the defenses. Attacks may be inevitable, but data security is still an essential step for companies to take to protect their data.
While data security locks up data, data resilience stands up against attacks. Data-resilient companies can survive attacks and maintain normal operations during attacks thanks to the technology that allows them to discover breaches, mitigate the impact of those breaches, and come out on top. With data resilience, organizations of any size can expect the unexpected.
Data recovery is a more reactive process. A comprehensive disaster recovery plan includes instructions for how a company will respond to unplanned disruptions, including human error, cyber attacks, and natural disasters. It will include preventative measures that reduce the risk of a disaster, discovery methods that identify disruptive events, and corrective actions that restore lost data and return IT processes to normal.
Data security, resilience, and recovery are key components that combine to offer reliable data protection. They all have unique characteristics and goals, yet each plays a vital role in safeguarding a company’s data against ransomware.
How Panzura fights against ransomware
With Panzura’s CloudFS, companies can store data in immutable form in object stores, which makes granular file and folder recovery possible. While we can’t prevent ransomware attacks, we can guarantee companies will never be affected by ransomware, allowing us to say with complete confidence that Panzura is immune to ransomware.
CloudFS’s immutability helps companies become ransomware resilient. All changes made to data are additive, meaning nothing can be overwritten. As a result, files can always be restored to a previous version. Panzura separates data from metadata to create a granular metadata catalog that is kept consistent in near real-time. System-level snapshots are taken every 60 seconds to create an updated pointer map in the metadata catalog. Then, each node in the global file system pushes out its metadata and synchronizes the metadata catalog with the other nodes. The metadata catalog can detect anomalies and threats and recover data all the way down to the file level — which leads us to ransomware resilience.
If users can always restore files to previous versions, changes or damage to files can always be reversed. The frequency of snapshots and node communication allows files to be switched back to any prior version at any given time. When cybercriminals launch ransomware attacks, they encrypt data and demand a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. Instead of scrambling to retrieve their data, companies simply select which files or folders to restore to previous, unaffected versions.
When a ransomware attack occurs, changes aren’t made directly to files. New immutable data blocks are created with the infected changes, which alters the pointer map for the original data. However, CloudFS’s immutability enables companies to revert to the unaffected pointer map using snapshots that are so granular they allow companies to achieve an RTO of 60 seconds.
All this talk of data security, resilience, and recovery brings us to the brains behind the entire operation: Panzura Data Services. With Panzura Data Services, companies can minimize downtime that results from ransomware and recover from an attack. In addition to real-time audit trails and alerts, users enjoy complete visibility, always-on governance, and real-time metadata access — all with a single, unified data management dashboard.
Ransomware isn’t going anywhere. Rather than accepting defeat, companies should develop data resilience strategies. Data is crucial to what companies do and how they operate. Companies shouldn’t have to stop doing what they do best just because of cybercriminals. With data resilience, companies can take a stand and become ransomware-proof.