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What are Immutable Backups? Ransomware Defense.

Source: Kerem Gülen/Midjourney

Ransomware-proof your data

The importance of immutable backups cannot be overstated in a world where cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent. Even though Salesforce is a dependable platform, its built-in backup and recovery features may not satisfy users’ needs. Therefore, it is essential to have dedicated backup solutions that go beyond Salesforce’s native capabilities to offer comprehensive data protection, preservation, and quick recovery options that are straightforward to use.

By leveraging these solutions, administrators can enjoy self-service capabilities, immutable backup copies that are separate from the primary data source, tools to expedite development and testing through sandbox seeding, swift data recovery controls, detailed data restoration options, and other helpful features.

What are immutable backups?

Immutable backups are accurate copies that are designed to be unchangeable, meaning that once data is written to the backup data storage location, it cannot be altered or deleted. This is accomplished through modern backup architecture technologies such as data immutability, versioning, and cryptographic hashing. Today, immutable backups are growing in significance as a means of safeguarding data against ransomware infections, phishing emails, socially engineered attacks, and other kinds of data loss.

Can immutable backups prevent ransomware attacks?

The analyst company, Gartner, outlines the significant importance of data immutability technology in protecting against ransomware attacks in its report, “Innovation Insight for Utilizing Isolated Recovery Environments and Immutable Data Vaults to Safeguard Against and Restore From Ransomware.”

If an organization maintains an unalterable backup copy of its data, it can prevent hackers from encrypting or deleting the original data for a set period of time. This allows the organization to recover a version of the data that has not been encrypted, and they will not have to pay ransom to the hackers.

Immutable backups are not just a helpful tool for addressing server failures. They also have a vital role in safeguarding data against ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a form of cyberattack that entails encrypting your data and demanding a ransom payment to restore access. Although conventional backups are effective in many scenarios, they are still vulnerable to ransomware attacks. In reality, attackers frequently target backups directly to maximize the impact of their attack.

This is where immutable backups come into play. Data security is a critical concern for industries dealing with compliance regulations, such as government, healthcare, finance, and legal services. These industries require advanced security measures to ensure that their data is secure and safeguarded from potential threats. Immutable backup storage offers an air gap backup of unaltered versions of data that can be promptly recovered and protected. By creating an archive of immutable backups, you can prevent attackers from altering or deleting your backups, guaranteeing that you always have a secure, dependable backup copy of your data.

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Using immutable backups for ransomware defense

The recuperation phase is a critical element of any strategy to combat ransomware. Even in cases where the perpetrator supplies the encryption keys following the ransom payment, the process of recovery using encryption keys can be arduous and convoluted. Immutable backups offer an additional layer of protection against ransomware by utilizing a write once, read many (WORM) framework. This guarantees that data copies cannot be overwritten or deleted, not even by a storage administrator.

Furthermore, they are not accessible from external hosts, and only trusted internal services or APIs are permitted to write to the internal system. For instance, businesses can replicate the internal view for external presentation during mount-based restoration processes to guarantee that the internal view remains unaltered.

Source: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Yes, immutable backups are a powerful tool in protecting against ransomware attacks; they should be viewed as an essential component of a comprehensive data protection strategy rather than a standalone solution. Immutable backup and storage provide a vital layer of protection for recovering data and resuming operations in the event of a ransomware attack. However, no single data protection technique can guarantee complete immunity to threats. Therefore, it’s critical to implement a combination of data protection measures, such as regular backups, network security, access control, employee training, and incident response plans, to provide the highest level of protection against ransomware and other threats.

Proactive measures are necessary to ensure cyber resiliency and prevent ransomware attackers from gaining access to the backup environment. Backup environments are increasingly popular targets for ransomware attacks, and attackers use tactics that can be challenging to detect. These attacks penetrate the backup environment and remain dormant until they encrypt the data, causing significant damage.

To fully utilize immutable backups and protect data from ransomware, organizations should take the following precautions:

  • Take a holistic approach to cyber resiliency that goes beyond backup and recovery to include attack detection and prevention. It is recommended to encourage end users to adopt a well-rounded strategy that covers all aspects of data protection.
  • Conduct regular evaluations of storage systems to identify and eliminate any backdoors that could allow bad actors to tamper with immutable backups. Additionally, it is advisable to check for any susceptibilities that could be taken advantage of by attackers.
  • Implement robust access and credential management practices, including role-based access control and multi-factor authentication. It is also essential to limit administrative access to only those who require it and to implement two-person concurrence for certain actions to reduce the risk of insider threats.
  • Regularly review and update your backup and recovery plan to ensure that it is up-to-date and effective in protecting against emerging threats. It is vital to remain informed about the latest ransomware and cyberattack trends in order to identify and address any potential vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

Benefits of immutable backups 

Immutable backups offer numerous advantages compared to traditional backups. For instance, they provide protection against ransomware attacks by guaranteeing that the attacker cannot modify or delete backup data. They also preserve data over extended periods, ensuring that it remains unaltered and tamper-proof. Furthermore, immutable backups can aid compliance with data retention policies and provide more detailed restore options.

Data integrity and immutability 

Maintaining data integrity is essential to data protection since it guarantees that data is precise, comprehensive, and uncorrupted. Immutable backups play a crucial part in maintaining data integrity since they create an unalterable record of data that is resistant to tampering and deletion. Apart from safeguarding data against ransomware and other forms of data loss, immutable backups also guarantee that data is preserved over extended periods in a verifiable and tamper-proof format.

Source: Austin Distel/Unsplash

Compliance and retention

Immutable backups are increasingly utilized to adhere to data retention policies and other regulatory obligations. Ensuring that backup data is unmodifiable, immutable backups can assist organizations in fulfilling data retention and governance requirements. Additionally, immutable backups provide a way to verify that data has not been altered or deleted, which can be critical in meeting compliance requirements.

Access control

Immutable backups also offer a means of safeguarding data from unauthorized modifications or deletions. By producing backup copies that are distinct from the source data and impervious to modification or deletion, immutable backups provide a means of averting data loss caused by deliberate or accidental deletions. Furthermore, immutable backups can assist in fulfilling access control and auditing requirements by creating an unmodifiable record of who has accessed and modified data.

Be proactive, stay safe.

A multi-layered approach to data protection is crucial in mitigating the risk of ransomware attacks and safeguarding against data loss. Immutable storage serves as an effective measure in preventing ransomware attacks by creating backup copies that are impervious to modification or deletion. By having these immutable backups, it is easier to protect data from malicious attacks as well as accidental or intentional tampering. Additionally, immutable backups can help to ensure regulatory compliance by providing an unalterable record of who has accessed and modified data. Taking proactive steps and having a multi-layered approach to data security is key to preventing ransomware attacks and safeguarding against data loss. Immutable backups are an essential part of this strategy, as they can provide a reliable and secure way to back up data and protect it from any malicious modifications or deletions.

Employing immutable backups along with other preventative measures, such as encryption key management and anomaly detection capabilities, can help organizations prevent ransomware attacks and guarantee recovery in case of an attack. By taking proactive measures to safeguard against ransomware attacks, organizations can minimize the impact of such attacks and protect their critical data.

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