Continual innovation and growing sophistication of cloud services is giving organizations clear and practical routes to deal with ransomware attacks.
The latest cloud-based file storage platforms not only enable more flexible sharing of information, but they also ensure forensic assessment and surgical recovery from attacks, without the affected firms losing productive time or having to pay the ransom.
Here are five ways in which cloud file storage systems are giving IT teams a way to avoid disruption from ransomware attacks:
Change #1: Cloud file shares
Many companies have struggled to recover from digital attacks because they have relied on traditional on-premise file sharing infrastructures with system failovers using duplicate infrastructures for disaster recovery (DR). These complex arrangements always require regular maintenance but, more worryingly, they are particularly hard to manage and resource-heavy when the IT team needs to quickly assess the damage from an attack and enact DR plans.
In contrast, the rise of cloud-based business applications – public cloud is already predicted to account for 45% of all IT spend by 2026 – is ensuring simpler collaborations on key information over global networks. But it’s less well-known that next-generation tools, such as cloud-based file storage systems, with their central nature and localized file access, also ensure rapid local detection of damage and much simpler file restoration in the event of an attack. The post-Covid economy’s liking for cloud is already putting businesses worldwide on a better footing to cope with the ransomware menace.
Change #2: Immutable data
While ransom gangs make hay attacking older technology infrastructures or those cobbled together for remote working during the pandemic, the second major advantage is that cloud brings immutable data. Cloud file storage provides a practical safeguard for organizations against regular outages and hacker exploits because their global file systems deliver complete data integrity and don’t require data to be moved from one location to another for globally dispersed teams to access. In the past, firms held off using cloud file storage systems because they were not convinced of their reliability but given the proven performance of these products and the large installed bases around the world, those days are in the past.
Change #3: Targeted file recovery
The third major evolution of the integrity of cloud-based file storage is leading products’ use of continuous file versioning (snapshot) capabilities. These give IT and networking teams unlimited snapshots of file share status, as frequently as every five minutes, enabling controlled, local-level file-level recovery in the event of an attack.
Many companies have forked out big money to attackers simply because they don’t want to lose productive time, but cloud file storage systems’ level of control enables the CIO to show the C-level team that the company can plan for and practice attack scenarios; the IT team can set more predictable and faster Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and adapt company recovery plans as new ransomware exploits emerge over time.
If the organization’s files are encrypted or damaged by an attack, IT teams can rapidly set up audit trails to do post-attack damage assessment and recovery, rather than having to restore entire volumes of stored data. The latest cloud file storage tools even have “point-and-click” file restore capabilities for rapid and simple file restoration. Companies with cloud file storage platforms have been surprised at the IT team’s ability to quickly isolate affected files and restore them so daily operations aren’t disrupted.
Change #4: Recovery in minutes
Restoring files has long been the least favorite task, especially for CIOs running hybrid infrastructures. Too often, departmental colleagues have found that their organization has taken weeks and months to achieve full operational recovery, even after an immediate response to a ransomware attack. In Ireland, the national Health Executive reported a ransom attack in May but has yet to declare when the incident can be finally resolved.
In contrast, next-generation cloud-based file storage systems can “roll back” business-critical files to the exact time of a ransomware incident.
Even organizations heavily reliant on multi-location and distributed workforces have the peace of mind that their critical assets are safe in the event of an attack or outage while their employees will resume productive work sooner.
Change #5: Cloud means simpler DR
There is a fifth element to cloud file storage’s evolution. As businesses reorganized in the pandemic, IT teams’ key task was to keep the lights on. Finding extra internal resources to do business continuity (BC) planning often took second place, and many companies with more complex, hybrid technology stacks have struggled to do it at all.
In contrast, since today’s cloud file storage products can “roll back” files to the time of an incident, companies’ BC planning and related checks and testing is much simpler and faster and less resource-intensive than on-premise storage infrastructures ever allowed. Cloud means simpler planning for (as well more effective recovery from) ransomware exploits.
Deal with ransomware attacks
Although ransomware threats have evolved over the years, cloud file storage providers have made such major innovations that enable companies to carry out simpler BC planning, quickly assess the damage and restore files in the event of an attack and so achieve Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) in minutes, rather than days and weeks. Cloud-based file storage products mean a clearer response to and predictable recovery times from ransomware attacks.