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Ransomware, Backups and Offline Storage--Oh My!

Ransomware, Backups and Offline Storage--Oh My!

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Throughout my professional career, I’ve seen a lot of things change. But I’ve always taken a very serious approach to keeping the data center available. Whether that be with great infrastructure technologies such as VMware vSphere or Hyper-V; some of the great innovation in modern storage systems; or by leveraging a cloud and service provider technology to keep things running as expected, there are always options to get the availability levels where you want them.

However, there is a new threat that makes a very old practice seem like an excellent idea. Ransomware, in the form of Cryptolocker and variants, is a real risk today. If an organization becomes the victim of ransomware, backups become one of the first lines of defense for remediation.

My colleague has written on this topic, and it’s a great approach. One additional point is to detach the media where backups are kept. This makes the backup storage offline. Take this practice beyond that of the endpoint device and consider the data center: Is there still a use case for offline storage today?

I argue yes! There are a number of ways to address fully or partially offline storage options for backups and related recovery techniques. One thing I’ve focused on over the years is the 3-2-1 Rule: You should have three different copies of data on two different media, with one being off site. The figure below outlines many of these options:

From an offline perspective, tapes provide some of the best options in this regard. Their acquisition cost and portability can’t be beat; and they are offline for sure! Other options include replication technologies (specifically for VMs) and storage snapshots. The latter are not entirely offline, but are, in a sense, “out of band” from a real-time propagation. Additionally, rotating disks can be offline and stored, whether they be individual drives for smaller data footprints or larger disk systems that hold a lot of backup data.

In any arrangement, the offline element is one not to overlook in today’s list of real threats that can lead to data loss. Do you have any offline storage techniques in place for backups? If so, what are you using? Share your strategies below.

Rick Vanover (vExpert, MCITP, VCP, Cisco Champion) is a senior product strategy manager for Veeam Software based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick is a popular blogger, podcaster and active member of the virtualization community. Rick’s IT experience includes system administration and IT management, with virtualization being the central theme of his career recently. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickVanover or @Veeam.




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