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Air gaps – the most effective defense against cyberattacks

On my last flight from Rome back to Munich the plane encountered multiple air pockets. The entire flight was turbulent, forcing us to stay safely buckled up in our seats for the duration. You have probably had a similar experience where your stomach lurches as the plane rapidly gains or loses altitude. Encountering these air pockets or turbulence in aviation is uncomfortable and most people would generally prefer to avoid them.

But in data protection, air pockets or gaps are actually highly recommended, as they play an important role in terms of protecting your business-critical data against cyber attacks. These threats are becoming more frequent, and are capable of simultaneously corrupting live, backup and archive data. Consequently, it is an enormous challenge for all businesses to protect themselves from this type of data loss.

What exactly is an air gap in the data protection arena?

When the connection between live data and backup data is physically separated, you create what is known as an air gap. This means that your backup data is offline and is not accessible from outside – making it unreachable for data thieves or hackers. Storing your data on removeable media that you can also transport to another secure location is the most effective approach to thwarting cyberattacks and should be an important building block within the context of a comprehensive data protection infrastructure.

What data protection solutions can create an air gap?

The answer is: Tape Storage! Tape is considered as the best offline backup solution for creating an air-gap to keep business critical data available even in the case of ransomware and other cyberattacks. And tape is not only still alive and kicking but it also makes an important contribution to any comprehensive data protection strategy.

To effectively protect their business-critical data, organizations have to devise a multi-tier data protection strategy. Alongside data snapshots, replication, disk and cloud backup, tape remains the most cost-effective storage tier for long-term data retention and also represents the best defense against malware attacks.

How does a analyst see the role of tape?

IDC recommends ‘using tape to optimize data protection costs and mitigate the risk of ransomware for data-centric organizations’ and also observes ‘that IT organizations view tape as an “and” technology rather than an “or” technology in their data protection strategies, especially when looking at multi-tier data protection. Tape, and specifically LTO technology, remains the last line of defense against malicious software and still plays an important part of any comprehensive data protection strategy.’ Read the full IDC whitepaper here.

It really is true. Many IT organizations are maintaining tape or adding it to their data center infrastructure. Did you know that tape has continuously high shipments? In fact, The LTO tape report ‘Record breaking amount in total tape capacity shipments  published in April 2018 by the LTO consortium showed a record 108,457 PB of total tape capacity (compressed) shipped in 2017, an increase of 12.9 percent over 2016.

And the development of tape technology is ongoing. As we recently covered in our blog, FUJITUS’s ETERNUS LT systems support the latest LTO technology and complement the data protection portfolio.

In addition, we introduced a new scale-out tape library ETERNUS LT140: The last line defense against ransomware!

Conclusion

Increasingly prevalent ransomware attacks continue to hit the headlines. Businesses can take days or even weeks to recover because all networked data, including backups ,are infected and encrypted, rendering it useless. The only way to recover is by restoring data from a point in time before the infection, from storage that was not connected to the network – which is where the tape and the air gap come in. And what is more – for once an air gap can actually prevent that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach – not on an aircraft, but the one you experience when your security has been breached and your data is corrupted.

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