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June 10, 2024

Ransomware Roulette: Paying Up Doesn't Guarantee Organizations Get Their Data Back

The digital landscape is riddled with landmines, and ransomware is a particularly potent one. It's not just about the immediate halt in production data – it's the systematic dismantling of an organization's digital backbone.

The attackers are growing more sophisticated, and organizations need to be equally vigilant. In fact, according to the Veeam 2024 Ransomware Trends Report, 75% of organizations are hit by cyberattacks, and are typically hit more than once. 

These cybercriminals are no longer satisfied with simply encrypting your data and demanding a ransom. They understand that backups are the lifeline, the escape pod from this digital disaster. Backup repositories are targeted in 96% of attacks with bad actors successfully affecting the backup repositories in 76% of cases, according to the report.

 By targeting backups, they create a stranglehold and leave organizations with a nightmarish decision – pay the ransom and hope for the best or face a potentially crippling downtime while rebuilding from scratch.

Cyberattacks cast a long shadow; while the immediate costs of defense, detection, recovery and business interruption are concerning, they don’t exactly show the whole extent of the damage caused by the attack. The survey found that most organizations say brand reputation takes a hit, productivity plummets, and IT teams face immense pressure.

The initial attack may be a data breach, but the fallout can spread like wildfire. Customer trust evaporates if their personal information is exposed. Operations grind to a halt as IT scrambles to contain the damage. Employees, stressed and uncertain, become less productive. This erosion of trust and morale can take months, even years, to repair.

A cyberattack is also devastating to a company's reputation, leading to lost sales and damaged relationships with partners and clients. Rebuilding trust takes time and resources, and there's no guarantee of success.

As worrying as those things are, they aren’t the most alarming stats found within the report. First, 43% of data remained unrecovered after ransomware attacks. Second, the myth of cloud immunity was shattered. On-premise servers, branch offices and even cloud-hosted data suffered similar infection rates. It seems once attackers gain a foothold, your "secure" cloud environment becomes just another playground.

This is a wake-up call for businesses embracing hybrid cloud strategies. Cloud convenience shouldn't come at the expense of data security.

The key takeaway?

Security must be platform-agnostic. Consistent protection and guaranteed recovery are crucial across all environments, on-premise, cloud-based or anywhere workloads roam. As a business migrates between hypervisors and cloud providers, unwavering data security should be the constant companion on their digital journey.

Sure, organizations can implement security measures and technologies that offer clean, secure, and recoverable backups. But there are measures organizations can take to be better prepared to bounce forward from a ransomware attack,

One of the most concerning trends highlighted in the report is the fragmented approach to data security. Organizations often operate in silos, with executive leadership, security teams focused on prevention and detection, and backup teams responsible for recovery all working with distinct strategies, tools and even organizational philosophies. This lack of alignment creates a critical vulnerability.

A cross-functional committee overseeing backup and disaster recovery planning is crucial. This committee should be a well-oiled machine, with representatives from IT, security, legal and business units working in tandem. Each member brings a unique perspective:

  • IT: Understands the infrastructure and has the technical expertise to implement backup solutions.
  • Security: Provides insights into potential threats and vulnerabilities that need to be considered in the backup strategy.
  • Legal: Ensures compliance with relevant data privacy regulations and can guide decisions about data storage and access controls.
  • Business Units: Represent the specific needs and priorities of different departments.

These committees create a comprehensive data security strategy. This means everyone understands their role and how it contributes to the overall defense.

Even with that committee in place, there is a chance that the impact of a cyberattack will be more severe and costly than anticipated. To weather the storm, organizations need a proactive cyber preparedness plan that addresses key vulnerabilities.

Consider leveraging immutable repositories. These are essentially digital vaults where data is stored in a write-once format. Secondly, focus on isolating and authenticating backup systems. Keep them separate from the primary network and implement strong access controls to prevent attackers from infiltrating and encrypting backups.

Finally, don't let backups become a false sense of security. Just like a fire drill, data backups need regular testing to ensure they function flawlessly when disaster strikes. A simple daily backup routine isn't enough. Organizations need to test not just the recoverability of your data, but also its cleanliness.

Regular testing verifies organizations can restore their data quickly, but what if that data harbors the very ransomware that crippled your systems?

This is where immutable repositories come into play. These digital vaults act as a quarantined zone for the backups. Testing backups within these immutable repositories provides a critical layer of assurance.

By incorporating both recoverability and data cleanliness testing into their cyber preparedness plan, organizations are building a safety net that catches them not only during a fall, but also protects the organization from the very threat that caused it.

“Our report delivers a clear message: ransomware attacks will continue, be more severe than predicted, and the overall impact will cost organizations more than they expect,” said Dave Russell, Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy at Veeam. “Organizations must take action to ensure cyber resiliency and acknowledge that rapid, clean recovery matters most. By aligning teams and bolstering cybersecurity with immutable backups, they can protect their valuable business data while Veeam keeps their business running and secure.”

The full Veeam 2024 Ransomware Trends Report is available now for download at https://vee.am/RW24.

Edited by Alex Passett

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