Immutable Backups: How to Protect Your Data From Ransomware

Immutable backup and recovery strategy IT professional

“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway.” So said author and venture capitalist Geoffrey Moore. And this is certainly true. In the modern business world, companies now rely on data like never before. Not just for making decisions, but also for things like marketing and even just communicating with customers. Without its data, the modern company is surely lost.

Ransomware attacks can disable business operations, causing significant revenue loss and wasting precious time to resolve. They can also damage a business’s reputation.

A 2016 report from EMC revealed that cybersecurity threats were costing businesses in the vicinity of $1 million per incident. Unfortunately, in subsequent years the costs associated with unanticipated downtime and permanent data loss caused by cyber-attacks resulting in malicious data corruption have only risen for affected businesses.

Ransomware attacks are a top concern for organizations worldwide. They can strike anytime, spreading throughout the entire infrastructure and crippling businesses or organizations. The value of data has never been higher, and ransomware attackers know this. They also know that most organizations rely heavily on data to function.

Backups made using conventional methods may be ineffective in restoring and recovering data encrypted by a hack, since the backup itself may be damaged or encrypted.

The last, best line of defense against ransomware is a strong backup and disaster recovery plan. Such a plan should include using immutable backups, as they provide a close to 100% failsafe against catastrophic data loss.

What Is an Immutable Backup?

A data management solution like an immutable backup allows businesses to backup files and recover data to ensure business continuity

Immutable backups are, simply put, copies of data that cannot be changed or deleted. Immutability ensures an untouched version of vital business data remains simply that, untouched. This is in contrast to traditional data backup solutions, which can be modified or deleted.

The benefit of immutable backups is that they provide a perfect, unchangeable record of your data at a given point in time. This makes them ideal for use in disaster recovery, and other scenarios where you need to be able to trust your backup data is accurate and recoverable.

How Immutable Data Backups Work

The most common ways companies implement immutable backups are tape, storage snapshots, and object (S3 and S3-compatible) storage. Even writable tape is immutable when it is offline or used for restore, and tape can also be configured to be WORM (Write Once, Read Many). Snapshots are, by nature, read-only.

A growing number of businesses are opting for object-based backups. Almost any object storage on any platform in a public or private cloud setting can be configured to be immutable, either by backup software or at the bucket level.

When an organization chooses to implement object immutable backups, a backed-up file is saved as an object and assigned a unique object identifier. This immutable identifier ID can never be changed. A versioning option can be enabled such that if a user modifies a file on disk, the backup software (or the bucket policy) will create a new immutable copy of the file on object store with the changes. The original immutable copy remains unchanged.

This process continues every time a change is made to a file that is then backed up. As a result, you always have an unaltered version of your data that you can fall back on in case of corruption, deletion, or ransomware attack.

Setting up an immutable backup

Generally speaking, you’ll want to configure your backup software to regularly create immutable backups on a schedule consistent with your Recovery Point Objective (RPO). Once your organization has immutable backups in place, you can rest easy knowing that your data is protected against the unforeseen malicious activity such as ransomware infection and accidental or intentional deletion.

Immutable backups are typically stored off-site to provide DR protection. But they can also be stored on-site, provided you have adequate security and redundancy measures in place.

Other Advantages of Creating an Immutable Backup

Protect against advanced ransomware attacks and ensure your organization has accurate copies of its mission-critical data and an immutable backup helps

While the most significant advantage of keeping permanent, immutable backups is that you will have versions of crucial information that cannot be targeted by hackers or ransomware, there are other advantages as well:

Protection Against Accidental or Intentional Deletion

Immutable data cannot be deleted accidentally or maliciously, protecting the business from a disgruntled employee or an outsider who wants to cause your business harm.

Regulatory Data Compliance Requirements

Maintaining an unaltered version of data facilitates compliance with rigorous regulatory requirements. This helps organizations meet the long-term retention demands placed on sectors like government and healthcare, as well as ensure that their data and backups remain unchanged and genuine.

Immutable backup and cloud storage can ensure data protection and prevent accidental data deletion

No one can modify, overwrite, or delete an immutable object until the expiration of the immutability period has passed. (The object can also be made permanently immutable by not setting expiration.) This is a powerful protection against malware.

Immutable Data Is Vital to Your Business Continuity

Backup and recovery of a business's primary data is a vital recovery strategy

By implementing data immutability, organizations can make themselves much less attractive targets for ransomware attacks.

The simplest way to safeguard your data and respond swiftly to cyberattacks is with an immutable backup strategy.

A robust data protection strategy is what’s known as the 3-2-1 backup system. This requires three copies of the data to be stored on two different backup media, with one copy stored off-site. The off-site copy should be stored as an immutable, air-gapped cloud-based backup.

With this approach, you can quickly and easily recover from a ransomware attack by reverting to an older, known good backup.

Immutable Backup Software

Implementing an immutable backup solution may seem like a daunting task, but there are many software solutions that can help

immutable backups protect data from ransomware attack which often encrypts data

When choosing a backup solution, be sure to implement data immutability as a key feature. This will ensure that your data backup is safe from ransomware and other cyber threats. Your immutable data backup will also serve as an invaluable backup in the event of data loss or corruption.

Data immutability is the key to protecting your backup data and ensuring business continuity in the face of unforeseen and potentially devastating events.

Not Ensuring Your Backup Data Is Immutable Means You Are Putting Your Business at Unnecessary Risk

Losing or having your miss

ion-critical data corrupted for good would be a catastrophic event for any organization. That’s why implementing data immutability should be a top priority for all organizations.

Companies mostly fight ransomware with a resilient and robust defense system. Being prepared is the one thing that every company should adopt to tackle the worst-case scenario when a company’s defense system fails.

A backup server that doesn’t have any connections to your production servers or storage systems can’t be infected via file shares or network links. By default, ransomware infections cannot spread to your backups because they are air-gapped. As a result, adopting this strategy is essential if you want to protect your backup data from ransomware.

The Cloud Has Emerged As the Preferred Platform for Implementing Immutable Backups

Ensure you have proper backup repositories for a clean backup

Cloud backup services provide a number of features that make them ideal for this purpose. For example, they typically offer versioning, which means you can restore files to any point in time. They also offer snapshotting, which allows you to take a point-in-time backup of your data.

In addition, many cloud backup services now offer what’s known as WORM (write once, read many) storage. This type of storage is designed specifically for immutable data and makes it impossible to delete or modify files once they’ve been written to the storage system.

With this approach, backup and recovery from a ransomware attack by reverting to an older, known good backup is made easy.

Final Thoughts on Immutable Backups

Even though ransomware attacks have been on the rise in recent years, many organizations are still not taking the necessary steps to protect their data from being encrypted by malware and held for ransom. When your data protection strategy involves an immutable backup, your company has a last line of defense against those who would illegally access, delete and or encrypt all the data you need to remain viable in the marketplace.

Parsec Labs makes it simple to retain immutable copies of your data locally or in the cloud, or between clouds.

Parsec Labs offers free trials of its powerful data migration and disaster recovery tools to those businesses interested in safeguarding their data. To get things started, reach out to the team at Parsec Labs today.

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