Why immutable data storage is key to cybersecurity strategy

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In today’s digital landscape, data storage strategies play a critical role in an organization's overall cybersecurity approach. Whether it’s safeguarding sensitive customer information, protecting intellectual property, or ensuring business continuity - the way data is stored can make or break an organization's ability to defend against cyber threats.

Businesses are facing an unprecedented surge in information. As data grows exponentially, fueled by innovation, customer interactions, and business operations, organizations must balance harnessing its full potential while ensuring its security and availability.

The rise in cyber crime

As cyberattacks become more frequent and sophisticated, businesses must prioritize data protection. Ransomware attacks, in particular, pose a significant risk. These malicious incidents involve cybercriminals blocking or encrypting access to or an organization's data and demanding a ransom for its release.

According to the latest Verizon 2023 Data Breach Investigations report, ransomware is present in over 62% of incidents committed by organized crime actors and in 59% of incidents with a financial motivation. The impact is significant as well – it takes businesses an average of 9.9 days to resume normal operations after an initial ransomware attack, with 1 in 31 companies worldwide experiencing weekly ransomware attacks.

In the rapidly evolving threat landscape, companies are facing a constant battle against cyberattacks. As the frequency and sophistication of these attacks increase, safeguarding critical data becomes paramount.

Data serves as a cornerstone for growth, innovation, and customer satisfaction. Despite its immense value, many organizations struggle to fully utilize the data they generate. Additionally, ensuring secure and reliable data storage remains a challenge. However, existing data storage strategies can be used to fortify against cyber threats and prevent data loss incidents.

Melyssa Banda

VP of Seagate Systems & Lyve Services.

The role of immutable data storage

Enter immutable data storage – a powerful weapon in the fight against cyber threats. Immutable storage ensures that once data is written, it cannot be deleted or modified. This means data safety is increased and organizations have the ability to restore data with 100% accuracy in the event of a breach.

Immutable storage acts as the final barrier against cyberattacks. Even if other security measures fail, the integrity of stored data remains intact. Cybercriminals cannot tamper with or alter critical information.

When ransomware strikes, having immutable backups becomes crucial. Organisations that pay ransoms often don’t recover their data fully, while those with robust backups can restore their systems without compromising data integrity. This resilience against ransomware is vital, in a world where ransomware is becoming more prolific.

Additionally, in the aftermath of an attack, time is of the essence. Immutable data storage provides a known starting point for rapid recovery, minimizing downtime, and ensuring business continuity.

Implementing immutable storage solutions

To protect against cyber threats, businesses should implement a data protection policy that includes immutable storage with advanced threat detection on top of a rigorous data backup and data recovery process. Early detection allows proactive responses, preventing attacks from escalating.

This is especially important for critical data such as customer records, financial transactions, and intellectual property to ensure the data is safe.

Backing up to minimize ransomware damage

Robust backup solutions are essential. Organizations should regularly backup data to immutable storage and test the recovery process to verify accuracy. These backups serve as a critical contingency measure in case of data loss due to ransomware or other cyber incidents. Effective backup solutions minimize downtime and ensure business continuity.

When businesses backup data, an attacker loses control. Organizations continue to own and have access to the data even if it is stolen. However, it’s important to note that many attackers will search for and remove backups, so precautions need to be taken to secure them. To make the backup harder to access, companies should store it on the cloud or on a different cold drive.

Enterprise-level data protection policies should implement the 3-2-1 backup strategy that includes both restore point and restore time objectives, (RPO/RTO). The strategy must utilize immutable storage so data can be restored if other backups have been altered.

Organizations should also ensure that multi-factor authentication, password rotation and role-based access control are part of the overall strategy. If attackers access storage systems, they can delete the clusters hosting immutable backup copies. They can also shorten or remove write once, read many (WORM) designations. It’s vital to secure the backdoors of storage systems using identity and access management (IAM) systems such as multi-factor authentication and firewalls.

Most of today’s cloud storage providers offer immutable storage policies. Object storage is well suited as an immutable target not only because of its high durability but also features such as object locking, versioning, and data retention policies can be easily applied. Modern data protection software providers understand how to use these features and have implemented with their product’s feature set.

Those same data protection software providers can implement an immutable strategy for on-premises storage in addition to the cloud. The best data protection strategies use a combination of both on-premises and cloud along with immutable storage.

Safeguarding for the future

As cyber risks continue to evolve, businesses must prioritize data integrity. Immutable storage serves as a vital component of an organization's cybersecurity toolkit, providing resilience, protection, and peace of mind.

Immutable data storage and robust backups provide a multi-layered defence against cyber threats. By prioritizing these practices, organizations can navigate the digital age confidently, harnessing data’s full potential while safeguarding against risks.

In the battle against cyber threats, data integrity is non-negotiable. It’s critical that businesses implement reliable data strategies now to safeguard for the future.

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Melyssa Banda, VP of Seagate Systems & Lyve Services.