Engineering firms are under attack.

An attack from ransomware – but hybrid cloud storage can help. Ransomware is a particularly insidious form of malware that can have devastating consequences for engineering firms. In fact, AEC

firms are particularly attractive targets for ransomware attackers. These firms are also more likely to have employees working remotely, and maintain a shared information environment with a range of outside contractors on job sites.

This scenario creates additional entry points for attackers to exploit. With a distributed workforce, sophisticated cyber-attackers are ready to exploit the security cracks exposed by this work model. They know how to gain access to a network; through weakly-secured remote locations and can move quietly and laterally to gain access to increasingly sensitive projects. As more work moves toward employees and clients in remote locations with their less than robust security controls, traditional security models are much less effective.

One example is the case of S.J. Louis Construction, a national contracting company based in Rockville, Minnesota. When one of the regional offices of S.J. Louis was hit with a ransomware attack, the attackers demanded more than $100,000. Fortunately for the company, they had previously deployed a corporate hybrid cloud storage solution. This allowed them to instantly “roll back” to a previous version of their data from the cloud, effectively undoing the ransomware from their system and preventing significant disruptions to their business operations.

S.J. Louis had the foresight to modernize its backup and data storage infrastructure. However, what is more, common today is a backup and restore approach that is dated, error-prone, tedious in its remediation process, and goes offline frequently. What’s interesting (and unfortunate) is that engineering firms often say that a ransomware attack is what brought to light the weaknesses in their backup plan. These firms are actually caught off guard when ransomware reveals itself and then find that recovering their vital data, if even possible, is an expensive and time-consuming process.

The threat of cybercrime reaching an organization grows more likely with each passing day. We’re constantly playing a game of catch-up – updating and modernizing the solutions and security policies to keep these bad actors at arm’s length for as long as possible. The increasing incidence of attacks puts legacy backup solutions to the test and with global businesses being breached with regularity, we know these solutions are not entirely up to the task.

Engineering firms need to rethink their security procedures and solutions and look for hybrid cloud storage – a new class of self-defending, intelligent storage solutions that bring together cloud and on-premises storage.

When it comes to ransomware and disaster recovery. A new strategy is needed, one that is based on three major innovations in data storage: Continuous data protection, instant disaster recovery, and proactive disaster prevention. This is why hybrid cloud storage is superior to traditional backup solutions:

Continuous data protection

Traditional backup solutions are typically based on a backup schedule, meaning that there is a fixed point in time when the backup is taken, typically off business hours. This means that recovering from ransom attacks invariably results in lost data. With hybrid cloud storage, however, files are continuously shipped to the cloud. In other words, if you have a file that you’re working on, and you make a change to it, that change is immediately captured and stored. The benefits of having continuous data protection are that it allows you to recover from data loss much more quickly and easily, and it allows you to recover to any point in time. For example, if your data was damaged by ransomware, you can simply revert to a very recent previous version, minimizing the amount of lost work.

Instant disaster recovery

Hybrid cloud storage provides instant disaster recovery, as the data is stored in the cloud and can be accessed immediately in the event of an attack. With traditional backup solutions, however, the data needs to be restored from the backup, which can take time and may not be possible if the backup itself has been corrupted by the ransomware.

How is this instant recovery of terabytes of data from the cloud even possible? The trick is that hybrid cloud storage systems can perform the recovery process in the background, while users already have full access to the data. Whenever a user accesses an already-recovered portion of the data, it is immediately accessible, and whenever a user accesses an unrecovered portion, the data is recovered from the cloud in real-time. This process can be completely transparent to end-users, who will not notice any downtime.

Proactive disaster prevention

Hybrid cloud storage is also proactive in preventing a disaster, as it can employ AI-based anomaly detection to alert on ransomware attacks and automatically block them in real-time. This contrasts with traditional backup solutions, which can only provide a passive defense against ransomware.

We are at the dawn of a new era of intelligent data protection where storage solutions that meet the needs of engineering firms, as well as other organizations, are able to head off ransomware before it embeds itself in a network. The S.J. Louis case highlights the importance of having a robust and intelligent data storage solution in place in order to protect against ransomware attacks. Traditional backup and restore solutions are simply not adequate in the face of these sophisticated threats.

Continuous data protection, instant disaster recovery, and proactive disaster prevention are key features that engineering firms should look for in a data storage solution. These are storage solutions that proactively protect from ransomware and keep their businesses running in the face of disaster.

By Aron Brand, CTO of CTERA

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