Guest Column | October 13, 2016

How To Help Clients Protect Their Data From Ransomware Attacks (Hint: They Need More Than Anti-Malware)

Gary Watson

Want to provide your clients with a solution that can help them protect their most valuable investment — their sensitive data — while generating a major new revenue stream? Read on.

By Gary Watson, Vice President Technical Engagement, Nexsan

No matter which industries you serve, one of the most frightening types of malware threats your clients face today is ransomware. Statistics show there’s a good chance any of your clients might soon become victims of a ransomware attack, if they haven’t already. The FBI reported these types of cyber-attacks have continued to rise in 2015 and 2016. Certain industries like healthcare are particularly vulnerable since they need instant access to patient data. Healthcare IT News and HIMSS Analytics reported as many as three-quarters of U.S. hospitals may have been victims of a ransomware attack in the last two years.

Yet, despite the malicious nature of these extortionist malware attacks, many businesses are not adequately prepared for the increasingly likely possibility of becoming victims. Ransomware attacks can affect companies large and small which means there’s a major opportunity for VARs, MSPs, and other channel providers to come to the rescue with a truly comprehensive solution — which, though they may not realize it, many companies currently lack.

The fact is while your clients’ IT departments may think their data is safe if they have installed anti-malware or antivirus software programs, these protective front-end-only solutions offer an incomplete security strategy. If a hacker succeeds in penetrating the anti-malware, then your client has essentially lost their files — unless you are able to offer them something to help restore their files post-attack.

This is where you can help guide your client to a more complete solution — one that can help them restore their files after a ransomware attack occurs.

Protection + Restoration

The key point your clients need to know is an effective Ransomware strategy should include both protective measures on the front end and options to restore files on the back end in the common event a cyber-criminal’s efforts are successful. In other words, they need a one-two punch that includes both anti-malware and an archive data-protection system.

Why do your clients need a two-part solution? Because while initial protective efforts to detect and destroy malicious programming are an important starting point for an organization’s overall security plan against ransomware, a protection-only focus won’t cut it against the newest breed of more persistent ransomware attackers. Let’s be real — anti-malware can be great when it works, but your clients have zero guarantee such solutions will successfully protect their data. So your job is to offer a solution that will help your clients manage the potential fallout in the wake of a ransomware attack.

Fortunately, you can offer your clients security on the back end in the form of an archive data-protection solution. This type of solution gives businesses an additional tool in their data-protection arsenal — one that provides a more secure, more all-encompassing strategy that can significantly boost their defense against the strongest hackers. Archive data protection can provide added peace of mind, since with your assistance (can anyone say hero?) your clients will be able to quickly and easily have their files restored. What’s more, they won’t have to fork over a ransom fee.

Archive Data Protection: The Basics

Here’s a cheat sheet to help your clients understand all the ways they will benefit from adding archive data protection to their data security strategy.

  • They can get their files back — even after an attack. A huge benefit for companies that incorporate archive data protection as part of their anti-ransomware strategy is they will have a way to restore their files once an attack occurs. Anti-malware’s efficacy is limited in that it can only defend files from malware. Anti-malware has no file restoration capabilities if files indeed become infected. Archive data-protection systems, on the other hand, can resurrect files that have been hijacked by Ransomware.
  • They can protect their data from day one. The right archive data-protection solution will offer functionality that automatically protects a company’s sensitive data from the first day of usage. This not only helps IT avoid the need for repeated back-ups, it can significantly lower the time and cost of the backup process.
  • They can leverage the latest security technology. Archive data protection works because of its security features, which include:
    • Shortcuts. The best archive data-protection systems have the ability to restore shortcuts rather than an entire file, which means retrieving files after a Ransomware attack takes just minutes, and the data becomes available instantly.
    • Fingerprints. When a company saves a file using the archive data-protection system, the system generates a unique fingerprint of its contents and metadata for added security.
    • Stored twice. A top archive data-protection solution makes two copies of each file in two different locations along with its fingerprint, giving IT two assurances that the data is protected.
    • Data verification. Archive data-protection platforms can continuously check files against their fingerprints, using copies to repair them whenever needed.
    • Extra protection. Archive data-protection solutions can also guard against the alteration or deletion of a file — even by an administrator — which provides an extra safeguard.

It’s easy enough to start supplying your customers with an archive data-protection solution, which will both help protect your clients’ valuable data and open up a significant new revenue stream to help your own bottom line. By partnering with the right data-protection vendor, you’ll not only become invaluable to your end-user clients, but you’ll make money in the bargain.