How To Prepare and Prevent Ransomware From Wreaking Havoc

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By Bharath Vasudevan, Director of Product Management, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software-defined and Cloud Group

Ransomware is a malicious software virus that locks files or computer systems until a sum of money (usually in Bitcoin) is paid to the cyber criminals. With ransomware attacks increasing in quantity and ferocity seemingly by the day, it is no longer a matter of if an organization will be attacked by ransomware, but when. According to the Ponemon Institute’s January 2016 report, Cost of Data Center Outages, 22% of unplanned IT outages are due to cyberattacks. This represents a 167% increase since the initial 2010 report. Stronger security and improved data protection and disaster recovery plans may be businesses’ only hopes to minimize the damage done by ransomware.

Last year alone, the FBI received 2,453 complaints about ransomware attacks – and these are just the reported cases, representing only the tip of the iceberg of the total ransomware incidents, as many companies attempt to handle the attacks in-house without alerting authorities. With the ever-growing number of ransomware attacks, it is clear that ransomware is big business for attackers. So much so that the FBI issued a statement urging afflicted organizations not to pay hackers, as these funds will likely go into funding other illicit activities. The FBI also warned that paying a ransom doesn’t always result in data being unlocked.

But even with the FBI’s sage recommendation, many companies are continuing to pay hackers for the quick release of their data. The reason? It can often be much cheaper to pay up and hope that attackers actually unlock data instead of waiting it out and trying to recover over time. Ponemon Institute notes that the average cost of IT downtime is approaching $9,000 per minute, indicating that every second is crucial when trying to get systems back up and running after an attack.

So You’ve Been Attacked – Now What?

To combat the threat of ransomware, strong security is a must. Not only can improved security help to prevent ransomware attacks in the first place, but it can also quickly alert users to the presence of an attack in progress.

While stronger security is critical in defending against ransomware and its associated costs, it is not enough. Recent ransomware strains are specifically designed to avoid detection by security applications. The only real "fix" is really not a fix at all – it’s a stellar data protection and disaster recovery plan to get operations back up and running as quickly as possible. Improved backup and recovery plans will help to minimize the cost of IT downtime and the amount of data lost in the event of a ransomware attack.

An easy way to fully integrate disaster recovery and data protection into your overall IT strategy is through hyperconverged infrastructure. HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure consolidates the core functions of a traditional IT stack into a single, easy-to-manage solution.

The HPE SimpliVity 380 has the unique ability among hyperconverged solutions to meet even the strictest RPOs and RTOs, even guaranteeing that it will take less than one minute, on average, to complete a local backup or local restore of a 1TB VM when using HPE SimpliVity's built-in data protection. That is an exceptionally quick recovery time. What's more, HPE SimpliVity backups are quick and data efficient so they can happen often (even every few minutes if necessary), resulting in almost real-time copies of data that can be easily restored so that data loss is kept to a bare minimum should a system come under a ransomware attack.

While all hyperconverged solutions integrate servers, storage, and storage networking, HPE SimpliVity takes this concept further. Full data protection capabilities are built in, giving customers peace of mind and the knowledge that their data can be recovered quickly and easily... even when ransomware strikes.

To learn more about security and disaster recovery in your datacenter, download the e-book How Hyperconvergence Can Help IT.