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Air-Gapped Backups: The Gold Standard in Protecting Against Ransomware

Air-Gapped Backups: The Gold Standard in Protecting Against Ransomware

If you’ve been keeping an eye on our blog (or even just on daily news headlines), you’re likely very aware that ransomware has evolved dramatically over the past several years. We’ve discussed trends in ransomware coupled with extortion, as well as tips to stay ahead of the threat, among other topics. The common theme in all these pieces of content has been that cybercriminals have become increasingly advanced in their efforts to gain access to critical data, and they’re becoming more adept at impacting business processes at such a deep level, many companies have no choice but to pay the ransom requests. 

Today, cybercriminals not only work to compromise critical systems and data, but also organizations’ backups of that information.

In many ways, business leaders and IT professionals have historically seen backups as a form of business insurance. Traditional backups were essentially designed to protect organizations from worst-case scenario situations. As threats have evolved, however, additional protection has become just as important as those traditional backups were previously.

Air-Gapped Backups Provide Greater Peace of Mind

Simply put, if your backup is connected to your existing network, it is at risk for being infected. Thankfully, new backup technology puts you one step ahead of this new generation of ransomware through air-gapped backups. This innovative approach offers simple, inherent data protection against hackers and ransomware infections. 

So, how do air gaps work? 

Imagine a virus infiltrating your network. What would be the fastest way to prevent a machine from being connected? You’d likely unplug the network cable (or turn the Wi-Fi off), since machines not on the network can’t be infected. Air-gapped backups offer the same type of defense. A strong air-gapped backup is built with technology that requires custom software to restore, mount, and interact with it, limiting the ability for backups to become infected.

How to Implement Air-Gapped Backups

Rotate Hard Drives

There are a number of ways to implement a type of air-gapped backup. Some options require more human resources, and other solutions can help automate the process. If your network is small enough to fit on a traditional hard drive (small business file server, etc.), you might consider rotating hard drives or NAS solutions to offsite locations. If ransomware strikes, you’d be able to use one of your uninfected backups to recover. This process won’t scale to more extensive networks, though, so we don’t recommend it for anything but basic file storage.

One-Way Cloud Backup

A one-way complete cloud backup solution to a public or private cloud can serve as a type of air gap. One-way sync is critical, so you be sure to verify that there is no way to remove backup copies from your cloud environment. If you run into a ransomware problem, you’ll have the option to recover from a previous but uninfected backup. It’s important to consult with your backup provider and software vendor to determine how far back your backups go and how they are separated from each other.

SafeGuarded Copy with IBM, the Ideal Air-Gapped Backup

For enterprises with advanced needs that require the best air-gapped backup solution on the market, IBM’s SafeGuarded Copy offers industry-leading ransomware protection for critical backups. 

The idea behind SafeGuarded Copy with IBM is to build a backup that can’t be modified, contains multiple restore points, and is easy to verify for recovery. In a sense, the snapshot is immutable. IBM’s technology allows for up to 500 recovery points, so you’ll have plenty of options when ransomware strikes. In addition, SafeGuarded Copy backups are provisioned to minimize capacity concerns as logical volumes scale over time. A host machine cannot mount it, therefore, there is no way to infect it.

Ready to Learn More?

There’s no singular backup solution that’s perfect for every organization. Our team would be happy to evaluate your network, see where vulnerabilities lie within your existing backup system, and make recommendations for future upgrades that can build in safeguards for ransomware prevention and recovery. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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