Why You Should Deploy Immutable Backups to Help Combat Ransomware

If you had to list out some of the most pressing cybersecurity related threats that businesses face in the modern era, ransomware would undoubtedly be right at the top.

According to one recent study, the total number of ransomware attacks worldwide nearly doubled in the first half of 2021 alone—impacting no fewer than 1,097 different businesses. Not only has it been the most prominent type of malware-related threat for the last few years, but the average ransom fee increased from just $5,000 in 2018 to a massive $200,000 in 2020.

This is why immutable backups are of paramount importance. While they can’t prevent a business from becoming the target of a ransomware attack, they can help prevent them from becoming a victim, which is the most important goal of all.

What Are Immutable Backups?

At its core, an immutable backup is one that not only does not change over time, but that cannot be changed. They are an offline, totally independent copy of your data that includes an additional security element that prevents any changes from being made. Immutable backups give businesses the ability to prevent any changes for a set length of time, which is why they’re so invaluable in the fight against ransomware.

Not too long ago, if you wanted to quickly recover from a ransomware attack, you would just restore from backup copies of your data to unaffected machines. Hackers are nothing if not savvy, however recent sophisticated ransomware campaigns have begun targeting backups first to prevent this from happening.

By preventing any changes from being made to data, an immutable backup essentially mitigates the risk that you won’t have a reliable copy of your data. Even if cyber attackers go after your backups first, there isn’t much they can do. Businesses don’t need to worry about losing their data permanently and they certainly don’t have to concern themselves with paying whatever ransom is demanded.

How Immutable Backups Can Help Prevent Ransomware

As stated, immutable backups are powerful in the fight against ransomware because they cannot be A) modified, B) deleted or C) encrypted. All three of these are core elements in any ransomware attack. Typically, an attacker will try at least one of those things in an attempt to extort a payment out of a target. If all three are impossible, the payout itself becomes far less likely.

Of course, an immutable backup brings with it a host of other benefits. Chief among these benefits is that organizational leadership can guarantee that there are no unauthorized changes being made to critical information. This underscores one of the major gaps in security of a traditional backup system. Many users who have varying levels of access permissions can still see the data to some degree.

Users can make changes to information or even delete backup data either on purpose or unintentionally, without strict authorization. Not only can this compromise the integrity of the backup, but it could also lead to a failed recovery at the worst possible time. An immutable backup will protect the integrity of the information contained inside, in a way that guarantees it can’t be changed regardless of what permission level a user happens to have.

Immutable Backups Are On The Rise

It should come as no surprise that immutable backups are preferred by many organizations, particularly those with very strict compliance codes. Law enforcement agencies around the country also regularly employ this technique, particularly when it comes to protecting large volumes of audio and video information that needs to be cared for indefinitely. It’s also a technique used by healthcare information as it’s the best way to safeguard sensitive medical and scientific data, making sure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

In the end, ransomware is a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. One study estimated that these attacks take place at a rate of once every 11 seconds. IT professionals need to be proactive about protecting sensitive and mission-critical data. Utilizing an immutable backup is one of the best ways to guarantee that your data is protected against ransomware.

Comport deep expertise in data storage and backup spans 30+ years. For a second opinion on your long-term data strategy, request a Data Storage Assessment from Comport.


Author: Bill Flatley, Field CTO for Healthcare

Bill is responsible for technical strategies and recommendations for Comport’s Healthcare clients. His extensive experience includes four healthcare systems in leadership roles supporting Clinical Applications, Digital Health, and Office of the CIO as the primary liaison between IT and the business.

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