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Time to work smarter, not harder, in the face of ransomware

Alan Conboy, office of the CTO at Scale Computing, highlights why businesses must ditch traditional IT tools in favour of new technologies if they want their cyber defences to remain intact.

As the digital landscape becomes a new and more complex one, ‘ransomware’ is fast becoming one of the most formidable buzzwords among business leaders, individuals and IT professionals. There is no denying that it has grown alongside the internet, an ugly by-product that is part and parcel of the digital world we live in today.

Ransomware is capable of not only locking organisations out of critical files, but draining them of millions of dollars. And if the victim does not agree to the demands of the attacker, they could lose vital and sensitive files for good.

In the first quarter of 2019, ransomware attacks grew by 118%, according to a McAfee Labs Threats Report. Alongside this sharp increase in the number of attacks, there have been many new ‘ransomware families’ detected, along with innovative hacking techniques.

The future of HCI and edge

Unsurprisingly, ransomware attacks will not be going anywhere in 2020. In fact, they will only increase in frequency and brazenness, and they will be harder to stop because of the technologies used to deploy them.

As this malicious momentum escalates, businesses must realise that traditional IT tools are leaving them vulnerable to tactical and well-organised criminals, as well as slowing their digital journey down. We will see organisations taking advantage of highly available solutions, such as hyperconvergence and edge computing, that allow them to not only keep up with changing consumer demands, but deploy the most effective cyber defences, disaster recovery, and backup.

Preparing for ransomware attacks in 2020

With the new year comes the chance for a fresh start for organisations and individuals to reconsider their cybersecurity solutions. It presents opportunities for businesses to change the way they can approach the aftermath of data being corrupted, as insurance companies will begin to take an active role, not just in the recovery of data, but in the decision-making when it comes to whether or not to pay the ransom demand. The overall cost of doing business will rise in conjunction with the growing threat of cyberattacks, and every business should be bracing itself for the impact.

If your data is not adequately protected to handle a ransomware attack in the first place, let alone recover from it quickly – it’s time to make a change. The first step is to determine how susceptible your operating system is to a ransomware strike. Often times, older legacy IT systems are the most vulnerable to ransomware attacks, despite their popularity with organisations. The problem with operating systems like this is that cybercriminals are very familiar with them, and have studied their weaknesses, allowing them to be compromised easily.

Making the best choice to protect yourself and your business

As ransomware attacks have become increasingly frequent, there is a high chance they could happen to anyone. Therefore, having the right system in place that is optimally designed to protect your data by being able to quickly recover from disasters is critical. Because of this, more businesses are realising the benefits of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

Implementing an HCI solution eliminates the complexity of integrating multiple vendor solutions to achieve virtualisation – thereby reducing the attack surface. Second, an HCI system uses ‘snapshots’ to safeguard virtual workloads allowing for faster recovery procedures in case you are the victim of ransomware. Lastly, by pairing an HCI solution with a backup solution, this will broaden your protective ‘blanket’ from a potential ransomware attack.

HCI offers greater data protection, is easier to deploy, self-heals, and costs less than traditional infrastructure systems. It also provides even more protection and disaster recovery when paired with the right backup technology.

Time to revisit data protection and recovery

Throughout 2019, there was a record number of ransomware attacks on government institutions, businesses, organisations, and individuals. Over this year, it is certainly going to increase in frequency, intensity, and brazenness. Because of this, it is vital that organisations revisit data protection and recovery strategies in 2020 and beyond.

In order to protect your organisation from a ransomware attack, you must first develop a real awareness of the threat that these cybercrimes pose to some of your most valuable assets. After this, the next step is to implement practical solutions, such as hyperconverged infrastructure and innovative backup technology. Compared to traditional systems, these are more cost-effective and much easier to use, and will protect businesses by working smarter, rather than harder.

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