Guest Post: How to Minimize the Damage Done by Ransomware

Below is a guest post from Geoff Fancher, Vice President, Americas Channels at SimpliVity Corporation

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, sweating profusely, scared half to death, and terrified that your data center was infected with ransomware? If so, you’ve had an IT nightmare. Just be thankful it was all just a dream and your data isn’t lost.

Though IT nightmares come in all forms, one thing all IT pros fear nowadays is ransomware. That’s because ransomware is becoming increasingly commonplace and is evolving to become even more vicious and hard to stop once it has entered an IT environment. The cost to business productivity can be crippling, and the data loss that can occur can set a company back for days.

According to Ponemon Institute, the average cost of IT downtime is $7900 per minute. Per minute! The reason recovering from ransomware attacks can be so costly is that backing up from restores can take a long time, typically measured in hours or days depending on where and how backups were stored. Also, depending on when the most recent backup took place, a lot of data could be lost once the backup is recovered.

With the cost of downtime due to ransomware being so high because quick restores aren’t an option, many organizations are choosing to pay the ransom to get their data back. The most notable example comes from Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. The hackers infected the hospital’s computer systems, shutting down all communication between the systems, and demanded $17,000 to unlock them. The hospital, being in an a high-pressure situation without the correct resources to be able to quickly shut down its systems and restore from a recent backup, was forced to pay the ransom to receive the decryption key and get back online.

The fundamental piece, then, to avoiding paying the ransom demanded by cyber criminals is to have a disaster recovery plan in place. You should know what to do if a ransomware attack happens. As the old adage goes, “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.” That’s the attitude to take and the way to do it is to have a plan.

One company that instituted a solid disaster recovery plan just in the nick of time was an enterprise manufacturing company based in the Netherlands. The company was infected with ransomware while its IT partner was in the process of migrating VMs to a new hyperconverged infrastructure environment that had built-in data protection. Most of the infected folders were already on the new solution, which was lucky because they were able to use the solution’s backup to restore within fifteen minutes, when just a day before, on the previous infrastructure, it would have taken about three hours to restore to the most recent backup. The partner was also performing hourly backups on the new solution, so they lost less than an hour’s worth of data during the restore. Before deploying hyperconverged infrastructure, the partner was backing up to tape every 12 hours, so they saved the company about 11 hours of data loss on the new hyperconverged solution. What a difference a day makes.

For a disaster recovery plan to be successful, the IT team needs to define recovery time objectives (RTOs) – how long it takes to restore the backup – and recovery point objectives (RPOs) – the nearest backup they can restore from. Basically, businesses have to ask themselves two questions: How long can the business shut down while waiting for the restore to take place? And, how many hours of business-critical data can the company afford to lose? There are data protection plans for every size of company and for every budget. The first step to a data protection plan is defining the organization’s requirements.

Hyperconverged infrastructure, for example, can dramatically cut down the hours it takes for businesses to recover from IT downtime. By making data efficient from the start of its lifecycle, businesses are able to quickly recover from a previous backup.

With SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure, companies are able to backup quickly and efficiently with minimal data loss because SimpliVity’s solution is designed to meet even the most stringent RTOs and RPOs to ensure businesses functions aren’t interrupted for long in case of a disaster or ransomware attack. If you’re heading to GreenPages’ Summit Event next week, definitely swing by the SimpliVity booth to chat!