By Jim Liddle, VP Product, Nasuni, shortlisted for the Best Enterprise-Level SaaS Product (USA) category at The SaaS Awards 2023, and the Best Cybersecurity Solution (Enterprise-Level), Cloud Security Innovator of the Decade, Best Security Solution for Data Management / Data Protection categories at The Cloud Security Awards 2023

Ensuring data integrity is a longstanding and growing problem in the face of today’s rampant cyber-attacks. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that organizations’ ongoing digital transformation programs, as well as moving applications to the edge, could be causing wider security risks and ultimately, costing companies dearly.

For example, SonicWall research found that ransomware attacks increased to 155 million in the final quarter of 2022 — the highest quarterly total since Q3 2021. And as companies migrate to cloud and edge, other risks are growing. Research by Check Point found a 48% rise in the number of attacks on cloud networked organizations in 2022, while as connected devices proliferate, IoT-based malware increased in 2022 by 87% over the previous year to a new high of 112.3 million. Many companies’ ability to innovate is being undermined by the cost of remediation costs following attacks: research by IBM in 2022 found that a clear majority (60%) of organizations have had to raise the price of products or services.

Despite these varied threats and companies’ dependence on legacy on-premises storage infrastructures, organizations still have surprising scope to save their business-critical data and their CFO’s budget. By embracing solution-oriented innovations that leverage immutable cloud storage, companies can liberate their data while better locking it down.  They can also achieve surprising cost savings over unwieldy on-premises file data infrastructures that drain capital budgets.

Here are four ways companies can transform data protection while rethinking the economics of their file infrastructures’ upkeep:

Step #1: Get ahead of ransomware 

With ransomware making up as much as one in ten of all cyber-attacks in recent years, organisations now deal with it as part of their overall cyber security initiatives. It’s no longer a question of if your company will be attacked, but when. And these attacks are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect. As a result, organisations need to continue to explore smart tools, such as scanning at the network edge, to help detect ransomware attacks more effectively.

Additionally, they need to invest in technologies that will allow them to recover in as fast a time as possible. If a high-profile organisation can recover in a matter of minutes or hours and be fully operational again with the least amount of productive time lost, this will be viewed positively by the organisation’s stakeholders ㅡ and cause a surprise for those behind the attack.

Step #2: Protect your data in the hybrid economy 

A New Era of Cloud Computing: Hybrid Cloud

Organisations’ back-up and business continuity plans have not only had to contend with the rise of the cloud and enforced hybrid/remote working, but they have also had to rethink their supply chains after recent geopolitical shockwaves. There are two fundamental challenges that come with such upheaval: are system outages becoming more common? Furthermore, are companies’ data protection and business continuity plans keeping pace with all the deployment, workplace, and supply shocks of the last three years?

Firstly, system outages occur for all sorts of reasons. They can be caused by:

  • Power
  • Network
  • Server failures
  • Software defects
  • Natural disasters and 
  • Human error — the most common reason of all

All these risks require different approaches to prevention or mitigation. They generally require CIOs to have system redundancy and additional checks and balances in place to prevent or mitigate the system outage. Companies that fail to adequately fund and implement these redundancies and checks are likely to see more outages and productive time lost.

In addition, after the rise of cloud, hybrid/remote work, and supply chain reconfiguration, many firms’ back-up and business continuity plans are failing to keep pace with these external factors. Despite having pragmatically adopted hybrid work models, many organisations are still relying on generations-old technologies and practices and incorrectly assuming that these ageing assets will provide adequate protection from an attack or data integrity event.

Most companies won’t recover, and if they do, it will take a long time and considerable resources. In the event of the company’s data integrity being compromised, IT teams that incorporate modern data protection technologies (cloud) and associated methodologies (unlimited immutable snapshots of data) stand a better chance of recovering faster and with less pain and effort.

Step #3: Rethink back-up as you adopt the cloud

Many companies are still using traditional and inflexible backup solutions despite having fully or partially transitioned to cloud operations. They should reassess their backup and recovery strategy and validate that it is still fit for a cloud-first approach. To help identify the elements of modernisation and contain the risk, CIOs should ask themselves key questions such as:

  • How long would it take to recover in the event of an attack?
  • How much would that cost the business? 
  • Would there still be delta loss of files and data (since the last backup)? 
  • Are recovery strategies being validated on an ongoing basis? 
  • Is there a faster / quicker more transparent alternative? 

By regularly reassessing their backup and recovery set-ups, organisations are not only paving the way to more agile operations but also planning for future cost reductions.

Step #4: Save money using cloud storage 

By leveraging the inherent benefits of cloud services, companies can save money using solutions that take advantage of cloud storage platforms for backup and recovery. Enhanced reliability and redundancy can be achieved by leveraging cloud object storage platforms which, by the nature of their immutable file copies, are better suited for backup of business-critical data than legacy file or block storage.

In addition, with the right service provider, IT teams can provide robust protection without the need for additional investments because cloud storage platforms help ensure reduced capital expenditure, scalability, and the flexibility to enable businesses to optimise their resource allocation. Most importantly from a cost perspective, they help IT teams avoid overspending on on-premises infrastructure which by its nature will always require further planning and maintenance as its storage capacity runs out.

Saving data = saving money

By adopting a risk-contained approach to ransomware attacks and protecting critical data as hybrid work matures and applications move nearer the devices generating it, CIOs can phase out legacy on-premises as they expand their cloud operations. Hard pressed IT teams that rethink their approach to back-up and recovery and accelerate recovery times from attacks using cloud storage platforms will make their data assets more accessible for colleagues, who can drive more innovation through actionable insights. Equally importantly, CIOs will be helping CFOs make IT infrastructure budgets more productive – and predictable.