An offline golden backup: the last resort in the event of a ransomware attack

october 2023 - in Cybercrime

A hacker sits in a mask behind a computer with a gun in his hand

The importance of offline and offsite retention

No fewer than one in three businesses (32 percent) in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have experienced cybercrime in the past year, according to a survey of 250 CEOs and IT managers by telecom company Proximus. (Source: BELGA) In these digital times, cybercrime is ubiquitous.
Ransomware attacks are one of the top three types of cybercrime. The victim’s data files are encrypted, and a ransom is demanded in exchange for their decryption. Recent attacks on both government and private sector institutions show how difficult it is for any business or institution to stay out of reach of cybercriminals. As an expert in data storage, Merak therefore believes this is the perfect time to share its vision with you on the role that offline backups can play in protecting your business data.

Backups are also in danger of being encrypted in ransomware attacks. Especially now that reliance is mainly placed on the cloud for storage of backup data, businesses are at risk of falling victim to an attack on an almost daily basis.
The question is no longer whether a business will one day experience cybercrime, but rather when.

The consequences of a ransomware attack can be absolutely devastating for a company. Loss of data, reputational damage, but also financial damage and the paralysis of operational activities are often the result.
If your business is hit by a ransomware attack, the cybercriminals effectively hold your data hostage. Fortunately, most businesses regularly back up their data and, for example, store it in a secure cloud.

A gold hard drive on a pink background

How can you create a watertight backup plan?

Let’s be clear: a cloud backup is a very good starting point. But it shouldn’t be seen as a complete solution. The reason for this is that you can assume that anything that is connected to the Internet is a potential target for cybercriminals. Malware uses the Internet, and all links to it, as a hyper-fast travel medium and will often start by targeting your online backups and making them inaccessible.
If you want to be 100% sure that no one can get hold of your data, it’s crucial to ensure that there is a physical break (an ‘air gap’) between your network and your backup data in addition to your cloud backup. You can only create such an air gap by having an offline backup copy.

The importance of offline and offsite data storage

Offline and offsite storage may not seem like the most up-to-the-minute form of backup storage in a world of digital backup solutions. From experience, though, we know that keeping an offline copy can make all the difference precisely because of the more ‘primitive’ nature of this approach. That’s why we sometimes talk about a ‘golden backup’. It can be compared to a fire insurance policy. You hope you never need it, but when disaster strikes, you’re immensely grateful to have it.

Although data carriers such as LTO tapes and removable hard drives have a less ‘hip’ image than cloud backup, they offer a solid last line of defence against malware.
In addition, they have a fast recovery time. This means that you can restore your data very quickly and the continuity of your business is compromised as little as possible.

As well as having your backup on a physical carrier, it is of course necessary to store it somewhere where it can’t be damaged. Merak has therefore had an e-bunker constructed especially for these golden backups. This underground safe is used as an ultra-secure offsite storage facility and also acts as a kind of Faraday cage.
This state-of-the-art infrastructure is completely shielded from electromagnetic radiation, which could damage physical data carriers. Even the fire-fighting equipment is fully adapted to the storage of digital media. Argonite extinguishing gas is used to avoid water damage. In the event of a fire, this gas immediately removes all oxygen from the space, so that the fire cannot continue to burn.

A wooden doll pulls a yellow cable into two pieces

Extra service and advice

In addition to the infrastructure, Merak also offers server room support, relieving its customers of the need to bring their offline backups to us themselves. Our specially trained employees collect the backups from customers in a secure manner according to a pre-agreed schedule. These are then conveyed to the e-safe by an adapted means of transport.

In conclusion, our advice is above all to keep making backups at regular intervals and to store them in a secure environment. Have you opted for a digital solution? Great. But only on condition that you supplement it with a physical copy. You will then always have one golden backup as a last line of defence if you’re faced with a ransomware attack.

door in the e-bunker with a yellow sign of Argonite above it

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