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How Prepared Is Your Organization to Defend Against Ransomware Attacks?



Without question, cybercrime is escalating and ransomware threats abound. Learn how a ransomware infection can occur and how you can fight back—and how HPE tape storage technology can add to your peace of mind when it comes to data protection.

Ransomware_data protection_HPE tape techonlogy_blog.jpgCybercrime is reaching unprecedented heights. And with the recent “WannaCry” ransomware attack, cyberthreats are back at the top of every IT department’s list of priorities and concerns. Unfortunately, it’s a trend that is unlikely to be curbed anytime soon. Cybersecurity communities have estimated that the total cost of cybercrime damage worldwide is estimated at $6 Trillion annually by the end of 2021, forcing more and more businesses to invest in cybersecurity spending on products and services to protect their business critical data from potential ransomware attacks.

Here I'll talk more about what ransomware is, how infections can occur and how your business can be more prepared to defend against potential attacks.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is typically defined as a subset of malware where the data on a victim’s computer becomes inaccessible and payment is demanded (usually in the form of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies), before the data is decrypted and the victim can re-access their files.  

Ransomware attacks can present themselves in a variety of forms but Microsoft Malware Protection Center explains that the two most widespread ransomware families to be reported in 2016/17 were:

  • Lock-screen ransomware
  • Encryption ransomware

Typically, lock-screen ransomware will present victims with a full-screen message which then prohibits the user from accessing their PC or files, until a payment is made. Whereas encryption ransomware will modify the data files via encryption methods so that the victim cannot open them again. In both cases, the attackers are in total control and demand large sums of money to access or unlock the files.  

How does a ransomware infection occur?

On average, most ransomware infections occur through email messages carrying Trojans that attempt to install ransomware when opened by victims, or alternatively, websites that attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in the victim’s browser before infecting the system with ransomware. 

Multiple high-profile incidents in 2016/17 alone, have demonstrated the destruction ransomware attacks can have on enterprise networks just as easily as on individual PCs.  For example, EternalBlue (a Windows exploit) released by the mysterious hacking group Shadow Brokers in April 2017 breached spy tools at the National Security Agency (NSA) and offered stolen data for auction, and the WannaCry strain targeted thousands of targets including the National Health Service in the UK (in total netting ~52 bitcoins or around $130,000 worth of ransom).

Not to mention many other widespread strains of ransomware including Petya, Nyetya, Goldeneye, Vault 7, Macron which have had devastating effects on countries, enterprises, election debates and individuals around the world. Attacking enterprise networks in this manner, is even becoming even more attractive because of the value of the files and data that large enterprises own means attackers can demand higher monetary values for ransom.

How to fight back

The increasing threats of ransomware attack should come as no surprise, because in reality organizations have always been under threat from malicious cyberattacks, viruses and ransomware, just more so now than ever before, and IT managers should continually be looking for ways to better protect their valuable data. Therefore, it is essential that your organization has a plan in place to defend against such attacks, minimize financial impact, reduce IT impact and maintain brand reputation. 

The industry recognized recommendations suggest organizations follow the simple 3-2-1 rule and the implementation of a strong security plan. The goal of the 3-2-1 rule is to provide customers with a data protection solution that maximizes application uptime, and data availability in the event of a disaster striking. 

With the proper execution of the 3-2-1 backup principles, IT managers can protect their data by:

  • Maintaining 3 copies of data (primary data and two copies)
  • Store backup copies on 2 different media types (such as tape, disk, secondary storage or cloud)
  • Keep 1 copy off-site (either on tape or in the cloud, since disasters can strike without notice, if all other forms of protection fail, you still have access to offline data!)Protect against ransomware.png

More on archiving your data using tape technology for complete peace of mind 

Tape is often sought as the best protection against cyberattacks, because tape is nonvolatile and static, so hackers cannot write a virus that corrupts the data. Since tape is immune to the viruses that other storage mediums are subject to, tape also ensures that users can recover their data in the event of an attack.  Using removable storage mediums such as tape technology, means that data can be stored offline and is therefore inaccessible electronically by hackers, effectively creating an “air-gap”.  Not to mention, as the data is being stored offline this uses less power and so provides a secure, low-cost data retention solution for protecting data from cyber-attack, whereas, primary and secondary disk storage remain online and vulnerable to potential attack. 

Another method of safeguarding data is to make use of encryption management tools such as HPE’s Enterprise Secure Key Manager (ESKM) (which uses industry-standard KMIP protocol with a secure centralized encryption key management solution for LTO-7 and LTO-6), to provide strong auditable security and reliable lifetime key archival.

At the end of the day, there is no escaping the growing trend of cyberattacks around the globe but the argument for utilizing tape as part of your tiered data security plan for protection against ransomware is strong. Here at HPE, we continue to witness huge market demand for tape storage as an effective and affordable enterprise storage solution for long-term retention, archive and as an extra level of protection against ransomware. 

The HPE tape portfolio offers unique advantages and complete protection from entry through mid-range and enterprise to accommodate the needs of all our customer environments, however big or small.Why HPE StoreEver is unique.png

Remember to keep your organization and data safe from potential attack and start planning now, don’t wait until it’s too late!HPE StoreEver portfolio.png

Explore the full range of HPE StoreEver tape products for Data Protection and Retention in more detail.


Sarah Clews_HPE Storage.jpg

 Meet Around the Storage Block blogger Sarah Clews, DCIG WW Product Marketing Manager, HPE Storage.




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