Feb 2017

Technology Defined: Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) vs Disaster Recovery (DR)

DRaaS vs DR

Losing business critical data can cost companies millions of dollars and force some companies to go out of business, which is why having a solid disaster recovery plan in place is critical to your business. IT decision makers are left with a complex quandary: do you create your own in house solutions or to go with a DRaaS solution? In this blog we will help to simplify this decision by going through some of the differences as well as the pros and cons of both options.

Traditional Disaster Recovery (DR)

Traditional DR is when a company owns and operates their own disaster recovery strategy. This typically involves:

  • protecting data through tape backup and/or imaging, or
  • replicating their production environment to an onsite DR hub

Both of these come with a number of best practices that will have to be followed by their IT team, however, organizations normally lean more towards a more traditional DR approach because they do not feel comfortable with having their data stored externally. Key problems with the traditional approach is the fact that it hinders RTOs and RPOs, involves hidden costs which accrue quickly and is a very timely process.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a cloud-based offering that replicates and hosts your applications and business critical data to Virtual Machines (VMs). Your third-party vendor creates snapshots/instances of your data either on timed or scheduled intervals and then stores this information on a cloud, which can then be loaded back on to your machine in the event of a disaster (i.e. file deletion, malicious ransomware attacks, etc.). As long as there are no major network issues as a result of your disaster, you can recover your data fairly quickly to minimize down time. DRaaS also offers substantial cost savings organizations don’t have to invest in the infrastructure or resources required to manage their backup solutions.

The key take away is that your company makes the right decision that fits your specific business needs. Ready to learn more about how cloud backup helps IT professionals proactively protect themselves from unforeseen disasters?

Read More

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Feb 2017

Are Canadian Companies Really Prepared for Ransomware?


This is part two of five in a series on Ransomware that will discuss Canadian trends, why Canadian organizations are so susceptible to attacks and why your strategy needs to change to adapt to the ever-changing world of ransomware.

A recent Osterman report cited in IT world Canada found that 51 per cent of Canadians feel “fairly confident” in their ability to stop ransomware. However, this may be a false sense of security as 72 per cent of Canadian companies suffered a security attack within the last 12 months. So this raises the question: are Canadian companies really prepared for ransomware? The simple answer to this question is no…however the reasons behind that answer appear to be more complex.

Although we’re neighbours, Canadian and American companies are not as similar in the way that they are targeted by malicious attacks as they are in other situations. As a matter of fact, if you were to do a comparison, Canadians are actually the outliers to the typical ways other regions are attacked by ransomware and cybercriminals.

So what makes Canadian companies such a good target for malicious attacks? Canadian businesses are 75 per cent more likely to pay a ransom than other regions. The most recent example was shown in late 2016 from the University of Calgary which paid $20,000 in bitcoin currency after some of their systems were attacked. So whether Canadian companies are either more wary about breaking news reports citing that they’ve fallen victim to ransomware, or Canadian companies do not have the necessary backup solutions in place in order to avoid paying these ransoms, Canadian organizations are just as susceptible to malicious attacks just like any other global organization. While these two issues are not mutually exclusive, solving the latter of these issues is an easy way to fix the former.

The key to Canadian businesses fighting ransomware is better educating themselves on the causes of these attacks. While typical international findings citing email being the number one cause of ransomware vulnerability, Canada debunks these findings as business applications are the most common vector for spreading ransomware throughout an organization.

In 2017, make sure that your company is prepared to fight off malicious attacks from Ransomware. To learn more about how you can prepare your company against ransomware, take a look at our previous blog to find out three reasons why your IT strategy needs to change in order to better adapt to ransomware.

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Jan 2017

Three Reasons Why Your 2017 IT Strategy Needs to Change


This is part one of five in a series on Ransomware that will discuss what ransomware is, key trends, types of malware, how to prevent attacks and how to safeguard your business critical data.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a single user or company’s files, data and information. Most commonly found in email, social networks and infected websites, it takes one click or download to encrypt business critical data. To be able to access your files again, the cyber criminals’ entice you to pay the ransom to not only decrypt the data but to also regain access into your files.

How does it work?

It takes one person, or a single workstation to cause havoc to your network. Cyber criminals study your general browsing habits: they will examine your social networks and other pieces of information to learn details about you to make their phishing emails (an email that is designed to look like it comes from a trusted source) more believable. For example: emails coming from trusted financial institutions encouraging you to update personal information (this information has to be updated in telephone or in writing) are a popular scam. By either clicking on a link in an email, or visiting a website containing malicious code, ransomware can travel across your networks and encrypt both mapped and unmapped files which brings all business operations to a stand-still. Once the scam artists have successfully encrypted all of your files, they will then provide you with details on how to regain access to your files (normally in the form of bitcoin­ currency). Average ransoms are $679 US dollars.

How to Prevent Malicious Attacks?

Should you ever pay the hackers – Never. A recent study conducted with over 150 IT professionals showed that only five per cent paid the ransom. Reasons being:

  • There is no guarantee that cyber criminals will fully recover your data (in fact, like most criminals they renege on their promises of data decryption)
  • It’s often a laborious and timely process to decrypt the files
  • Once you’ve been hit with ransomware once, you’re a target. One encryption does not prevent you from being attacked again

Therefore, the only way to prevent attacks is by having a comprehensive and reliable backup and recovery solution in place. There are millions of ransomware threats being developed every day. Rather than trying to find solutions that will combat ransomware, have a rigorous data protection plan in place – one that includes regular back up of all files (whether they be stored in the cloud or with traditional backup). Therefore if you were to ever be hit by ransomware, regular backup means easy recovery, faster RTO’s and RPO’s and business continuity.

Three Reasons Why Your 2017 Strategy Needs to Change:

  • 2016 was a very successful year for ransomware. Attacks and threats increased, and trends have shown that attacks are becoming more targeted towards businesses as opposed to individual users because the criminals know that more money lies in business.
  • Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated and their delivery and evasion tactics are becoming more advanced to make them more profitable. They’re spending their profits to develop new malware that is resistant to security defenses and decryption software.
  • Ransomware attacks are growing, multiplying and infecting more organizations. No security solutions will be 100 per cent effective against all threats. So rather than overinvesting in new security, antivirus and endpoint protection solutions, invest more time in training your staff as the entry point of the majority of attacks are still due to individual users endpoint devices.

Ready to Learn How Asigra Can Help You Combat Ransomware?

Request a Demo

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Jan 2017

Three Things to Consider When Selecting a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) Provider

Nikolaos Prapas

This is part of a series of interviews with Asigra Partners. In this post we’re talking with Nikolaos Prapas, Data and Recovery Solutions Engineer at TAS France who shares the importance of having a sound disaster recovery plan/DRaaS solution, trends in the European market related to backup and recovery, his opinion on ransomware best practices and the best way to prevent malicious attacks.

VM: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, the organization and the solutions/services provided by TAS France?

NP: TAS France is the French subsidiary of TAS Group, a European Fintech software company focused on state of the art services for digital payments and online financial transactions. As part of our core business strategy, we host and house services for TAS Group, deliver SaaS solutions to our clients and also act as a cloud and managed service provider for corporate companies who are looking to outsource IT services. We also run several data centers and hosted infrastructures mainly in France and Italy.

VM: What are some of the most common requests your company receives?

NP: Our clients approach us with questions about security, sustainability, economy and how our data centers can help facilitate their Business Recovery Plan (BRP).

VM: In your opinion, what should organizations/businesses look for when choosing a Cloud Service or Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

NP: When companies are looking for a managed service provider they should choose a provider that:

  1. Understands the scope of their business needs. The MSP should have a general understanding of their processes and business needs to make improvements which align with their architecture. The service provider should also bring the expertise necessary to find efficiencies within the existing processes, in addition to deploying the hardware and software assets for net-new solutions.
  2. A comprehensive MSP that offers a myriad of solutions. The cloud solutions provider should administrate their networks and systems without the need for third party/intermediate brokers or subcontractors.
  3. An MSP that provides technical assistance and sound project management advice as opposed to some providers that provide only general information and online resources.

VM: Does TAS France Offer a DRaaS solution?

NP: DRaaS services are core to our business and we’ve been running this service since the inception of TAS France. After exploring and implementing a lot of solutions, we chose Asigra’s DRaaS solutions as we wanted to be able to provide stable and robust solutions for not only our own infrastructure, but for our customers’ infrastructure and technology if a disaster were ever to occur.

VM: What are some top reasons why organizations should have a DRaaS solution in place?

  1. NP: Companies are exposed to many risks, but there are few as devastating as losing essential data. Therefore, having a solution that provides the robust reporting tools that managers need to assess and manage risk is essential. Most businesses without a data protection plan in place do not survive a significant data loss.
  2. So organizations can be self-sufficient. Companies not only want, but expect their information to be accessible whenever they need it. The only way to ensure business continuity is to have a fast recovery, backup and disaster recovery plan before a disaster happens.
  3. Failure of Technology and Hardware. Because technology and IT infrastructure aren’t immune to failure, data protection solutions such as Asigra that offer customizable backup for your data are an ideal way to ensure your business runs smoothly at all times.

VM: Data centers for the past few years are becoming more popular in the industry. What are some benefits of having centralized data centers?

NP: In general, data centers are the hubs of digital transformation. These centers provide many amenities for organizations to manage the challenges of maintaining their IT infrastructure including physical security, a footprint for their servers and power supply with venting and air conditioning in an off-site location to mitigate risks from natural disasters.

VM: Does the proliferation of data centers have anything to do with the fact that data sovereignty is becoming a hot topic within IT?

NP: Not really. The issue with sovereignty is not really related to data centers, but more related to how different countries approach data privacy. For example, the US is very different than Europe in how we manage digital identities. On a more granular level, France may have a different digital identity than Europe in general, which is why we store all of our French data locally, as there may be some instances where our privacy laws are different (i.e. we are certified PCI DSS, which may or may not be applicable in other parts of the globe).

VM: With Ransomware becoming so rampant, there is a broad mix of anti-malware services: anti-exploit, anti-malware and antivirus. Does an organization need to invest in all three security tools, or does one perform better than the other? What in your opinion is the option best suited for organizations?

NP: An organization does not necessarily have to invest in all three anti-malware services, however the option best suited for organizations is to choose an MSP that offers cloud backup, one that is able to handle cyber-attacks, penetration, malware and virus risks through a sound and robust backup and recovery solution. These solutions that MSP’s offer should be able to identify and mitigate risk, stop attacks and build resiliency plans if a client was ever hit with a ransomware attack. Backup is the best final line of defense against an intrusion, especially when it comes to recovering business critical data.

VM: In your opinion, what are some common mistakes Managed Service Providers are making today?

NP: Being too confident or presumptuous. Some MSPs tend to forget that maintaining others’ data centers is a permanent endeavor, which requires quality management, vigilance and an understanding of their customers’ expectations. A successful MSP should be curious and ask questions to make appropriate recommendations based on proven, enterprise-grade solutions, as opposed to building, running and operating fragile home-based or non-trusted solutions.

VM: What can organizations do in 2017 to ensure their data remains safe and secure?

NP: My advice to companies is to consider data protection as a global policy and choose providers that have a combination of comprehensive solutions and solid experience in implementing data security solutions.

Click here to see the full scope of services offered by TAS France.

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Jan 2017

2016 Year in Review: The Four Biggest Trends of the Year

2016 IT Trends

2016 was a very interesting time in the world of IT. Ransomware and malicious attacks became prevalent, BYOD became more popular, Office 365 and SaaS applications proliferated the marketplace and cloud backup solutions became the preferred choice for many IT professionals. 2016 is over, but it completely changed the IT landscape in terms of the way business and operations are conducted, the way employees work; but also shows that the world of data backup and recovery are constantly changing.

We’ve Identified the Biggest Trends in 2016 to be:

  1. Cloud backup: This became more prevalent as organizations began to fully embrace the cloud not only for recovery, but also as a cost-efficient means for backing up data.
  2. The Proliferation of BYOD: According to a Gartner press release, BYOD, remote offices and the myriad of mobile products made it difficult for IT professionals to manage, maintain and thoroughly control networks.
  3. More Enterprises Moving to the Cloud: Data centre architectures, operating systems and applications have been upgraded to become more virtualized to better support the cloud. In 2016, we saw more companies willing to migrate to the cloud, which enabled IT professionals to meet their security, networking and container needs.
  4. Disaster Recovery Evolves to Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS): DRaaS became prevalent as enterprises needed to be assured that their important data could be recovered on-demand to not only minimize downtime but to also ensure their business operations ran efficiently.

What Do These Trends Mean for the Market in 2017?

Change is constant in the market which means your data protection strategy should also be evolving. In today’s economy, IT leaders often have budgetary restrictions which means companies need to do and accomplish more with less money, while maintaining the highest quality of service that their customer base expects.

Therefore, as IT leaders look to add more infrastructure to their portfolio, be sure to evaluate your current strategy to see if you should either look for fewer solutions with more capabilities or a single comprehensive solution that covers the full scope of data protection and recovery needs (including SaaS, DRaaS, VM’s and hardware protection).

Discover how Asigra’s comprehensive and agentless solution can cover all your needs.

Contact a Recoverability Specialist

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Dec 2016

Asigra Expands Global Footprint with Addition of New Australian Partner

Cloud Recovery

Asigra is pleased to announce the addition of CloudRecover to our growing roster of global partners.

For more than 10 years, CloudRecover has helped businesses across the South Pacific manage their data solutions. As a Cloud Managed Service, they protect over nine petabytes of data and were looking for a robust solution to protect a myriad of servers with high-performance architecture.

Organizations that are searching for flexibility, fast access to data and scalable backup and recovery solutions across multiple devices now have access to CloudRecover’s managed service powered by Asigra. This new partnership with Asigra adds more value to their clients who are looking for a more comprehensive reliable backup and recovery solution, as our solutions are flexible, easily scalable and accessible and can securely backup and recover data across the entire organization.

“Our Mission is to provide the best data solutions to store, manage and protect our customer information allowing them to work more efficiently and successfully,” says CEO, Mac Thompson.

Complementing the existing portfolio of cloud managed solutions below are ten reasons CloudRecover selected Asigra Cloud Backup:

  • Comprehensive end to end software that can protect all data within the data centre and beyond (i.e. VMs, physical servers, endpoints, and SaaS-based applications like Office 365)
  • Hardware agnostic
  • Support for Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac, iOS and Android
  • Continuous data protection
  • VM replication supporting VMware and Hyper-V
  • WAN optimized
  • Incremental forever and global deduplication
  • Flexible retention policies – data can be stored for as long as needed to meet compliance regulations
  • AES 256 encryption of data inflight and at rest
  • Single pane of glass - web-based management console

With Asigra Cloud Backup, CloudRecover is able to expand their addressable market, and increase capabilities to meet clients’ data protection needs for all data sources with a single data protection solution that features a central administrative dashboard with real time view of all backup schedules.

Learn how to become an Asigra partner

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Dec 2016

Asigra Celebrates 30 Years of Innovation

30 years of innovation

Before cloud backup was an industry buzzword, CEO and Founder David Farajun knew that there was a need for agentless architecture after losing all of his files and data. It started with a prototype and a goal – how to create a robust agentless multi-site backup and recovery managed service platform to sell to Service Providers globally? 30 years later, Asigra has released several ground-breaking technologies that are now the cornerstones of business continuity and disaster recovery strategies for enterprises worldwide. Whether our partners are looking for solutions that offer multi-tenancy, security, tiered recovery, continuous data protection (CDP) or de-duplication, Asigra has pioneered advancements as a cloud backup service that results in better business outcomes.

After 30 years of successful partnerships, some of our partners share how our products and solutions have benefited their clients and some of their most memorable moments:

  • Asigra’s solutions allowed us to restore a large production server with perfect results. Our customer is still eternally grateful.
    G. Netaneli – 010 Data Protection
  • Asigra’s solutions always provide full restoration of customer data.
  • I still remember the first Asigra Summit I attended in Toronto. I had no idea that it would be that much fun and I would be introduced to so much useful information. It was a very different experience from other conferences I had attended over the years. And now after attending a number of Asigra events it feels nice to return and see old faces and meet new ones.
  • It is a solution that has fast deployment which helps us ensure our customers are meeting their RTO’s and RPO’s.
    M. Brown, Onyx/Pulsant
  • The solution is agentless, which allows for lower total cost of ownership, reduction in management overhead, and allows for quick and easy deployment.
  • Winning product advocate in 2015, where I was acknowledged for promoting the benefits of cloud backup services.
    G. Drumsta, Tech 42
  • The 2013 Summit where I got to network and liaise with other partners globally.
    J. Whitford, Structured

Curious to see what else we’ve accomplished over the past 30 years? Click here to see a timeline of our achievements.

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Dec 2016

New Study Reveals Insights into Global Data Recovery Practices

Report thumbnail

How much data does your organization recover annually? It’s probably less than you think. The new Data Protection Trends: Validating Recovery report conducted by Asigra debunks the notion that organizations recover 100 per cent of their data – even when given the option to restore larger amounts. In a study conducted by Enterprise Strategy Group in 2013 with over 500 financial and IT decision makers, 52 per cent of respondents surveyed said that a recovery based pricing model would be more fair than a capacity based pricing model. So then, why do most organizations pay for 100 per cent recovery when in reality they’re recovering much less?

As enterprises look for better ways to recover their data, reduce downtime and prevent malicious attacks against their data, this report provides valuable insights for Managed Service Providers, IT Professionals and financial decision makers that will help enterprises on their search to find appropriate cloud backup and recovery solutions. Conducted over a 30-month period, the study compiled insights of data recovery practices from over 1,000 organizations in over 134 countries across eight vertical markets. Download the full report and garner insights on:

  • How much data organizations actually recover per year
  • Average size and most common types of dataset recovery across vertical markets
  • Common data type restoration and requests
  • Reasons why there’s been a surge in Data Recovery Drills
  • Asigra’s Recovery License Model®

With the average total cost of data breaches steadily increasing every year (from $3.79 million to $4 million in one year)1, this timely report will allow companies, MSPs and enterprises to not only make smart choices about their data protection and recovery solutions, but to also guide them in their decision on how to appropriately distribute IT budgets to help them with their high-level business strategy.

Download the report today and receive the insights you need to maximize operational efficiency, increase profitability and learn about valuable data recovery services.

1. 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis conducted by IBM

Download My Copy

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Nov 2016

Avoiding Common Remote Asset Data Protection and Recovery “Gotchas”

Posted by Eran Farajun in Cloud Backup
Image with appliances

Remote offices, branch offices (ROBO), small offices, and home offices (SOHO) have become ever more dominant characteristics of business organizations. SOHOs have grown rapidly, as more organizations permit their employees to work from home. Government organizations have not been immune to this trend , as they have become more geographically dispersed than ever before. Mobile dispersed work forces frequently means dispersed data assets. These are data assets having tremendous value with potentially dire consequences if lost or compromised. They have to be protected. They have to be easily recoverable in the event of a disaster, outage, malware, theft, or accident. IT professionals will typically say that’s common sense.

Regrettably, Voltaire was correct in his assertion that common sense is not so common. There are two crucial responsibilities here. The first is to protect the applications and their data. The second is more difficult in making both easily recoverable. Data protection and recovery processes for data centers are well known with decades of experience. Professionals utilize that which they know best and therefore apply these data protection and recovery procedures to ROBOs and SOHOs. Applying those processes to ROBO and SOHO is the root of way too frequent “gotchas”. There are several reasons why.

  • IT professionals are numerous and generally experienced in the data center. It is rare indeed to have any trained IT pros in a ROBO. They are a non-factor in SOHOS. In fact ROBO IT tends to be a secondary responsibility of some other position. This means there is a dearth of data protection and recovery knowledge, expertise, as well as experience at both ROBO and SOHO locations.
  • Most of the effort for ROBOs and SOHOs is on protecting not recovering. This is understandable since protection is minimally a daily process whereas recovery is a once in a while process. However, as important as the protection process is, the recovery process is always one of urgency.
  • ROBO and SOHO primary IT compute devices utilized are laptops, tablets, combos, phablets, and smartphones. These are known as mobile “endpoints”. Physical (a.k.a. physical machines or PM), virtual servers (a.k.a. virtual machines or VM), and desktops have become a bit more rare and found primarily in the larger ROBOs. Data protection and recovery for PMs, VMs, and desktop workstations are a definite but well understood problem. But for those mobile endpoint devices it is generally a misguided after-thought. Data center IT too often labors under the false assumption that the vast majority of the organization’s mission critical data resides on its servers. That assumption keeps proving to be a major mistake. Users keep creating valuable organizational data assets on their mobile endpoints that never make it to the data center. Proposals, presentations, spreadsheet analysis, data analytics, market research, software development, and more.
  • Unlike PMs, VMs, and desktops, those mobile endpoints are more vulnerable to being compromised, lost, or stolen. When a mobile end point such as a laptop is lost or stolen so too are the credentials on that laptop. As recent news stories have noted, it is not very difficult to bypass the simple end point security if there is any at all. A lot of mischief can be accomplished in a short period of time (data theft, malware insertion, Trojan horses, Ransomware, etc.) before those credentials can be cut off. The aftermath can take months of extensive IT manually labor-intensive effort to clean up.

The common workarounds to many of these problems mostly come up short or fail out right. They depend too much on ignoring normal human behavior. Here are some of the most pernicious examples:

  • Implement virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to the endpoints. In theory this should automatically keep all applications and data in the data center. In practice, not so much. Users often become highly dissatisfied with VDI because of poor response times from high Internet latency, high VPN latency, and VDI resource under provisioning (costly storage, servers, memory, and bandwidth). That dissatisfaction displays itself with local virtualization and utilizing that local image as their primary. Defeats the purpose of VDI.
  • Require users to manually copy their data to data center servers or storage. No matter how stringent the policy, and how diligently enforced, this methodology is simply an unsustainable “no-op”. In other words, it just does not work. And still does nothing in the event of an endpoint theft.
  • Utilize private and or public file sync and share technology to keep all user data available local as well as in the data center or to the data center. This workaround enables data copies in the data center but fails to lock down the data or device credentials in the event of a theft.

What then are the best practices to protect and recover data in ROBOs and SOHOs? It starts with recognizing that ROBO requirements are different from the data center. It requires a thorough data threat analysis. But most importantly, there should be a reliable, repeatable, simple process for recoveries with minimal to no local expertise in the ROBO.

Beginning with the remote servers, it is essential to start with the essentials. Determine the required recovery point objectives (RPO) or how much data loss can be tolerated for each PM and VM workload. Then determine the recovery time objectives (RTO) or how long it will take to recover and be up and running in production again for each PM and VM workload. RPOs and RTOs often determine the methodology required to both protect and recover data. For example, if some of the VMs require a RPO and RTO at zero or near zero then some form of VM replication will likely be required. Low RTOs require local oriented recoveries, VM mounting, or VM turn-up. The key to ROBO recoveries is simplicity. One-pass recoveries. No expertise required at the ROBO. Or all recoveries managed by the data center or a managed service provider.

The bigger protection and recovery problems are the endpoints that have become the staple of ROBOs and SOHOs. As previously discussed, endpoints are mobile. Endpoint protection and recoveries have to be both self-contained as well as centralized to an internal data center, third party data center typically managed by a managed service provider (MDP). Those endpoints typically require relatively low RPOs and RTOs. That requires relatively frequent automated backups of changed blocks, which utilize minimum endpoint resources to the internal drive and a copy of those backups to the data center or cloud based MSP. The internal drive for fast local recoveries of files and centrally for bigger recoveries when a disaster occurs such as a Ransomware attack.

But protection for mobile endpoints has to go further. It has to protect against lost or stolen endpoints. That requires geo-location of the endpoints and remote wipe. The geo-locate is to find lost units. The remote wipe is to remove any or all of the valuable data to prevent it from being used, leveraged for other nefarious purposes, or sold from stolen or unrecoverable units. That issue is specific to laptops and combo units. It is less so for tablets and smartphones, which tend to have those capabilities built-in.

Asigra delivers complete ROBO and SOHO data protection and recoveries required today via its software and hundreds of managed service providers.; For more information go to: or check out how we help the makers of Absolut Vodka (Pernod Ricard case study) protect their data across 42 territories with a centralized data protection strategy. That strategy empowers them to perform recoveries of individual files, databases, and emails easily, quickly, and reliably.

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Nov 2016

What’s the Best Way for Your Organization to Prevent Ransomware Attacks?

Brent Reichow headshot

This is part of a series of interviews with Asigra Partners. In this post we’re talking with Brent Reichow, Principal at BlueShift Data Protection about misconceptions with IaaS and SaaS and data protection, trends in the Asian-Pacific market related to backup and recovery, his experiences with ransomware and what organizations can do to prevent attacks.

VM: IaaS Systems like MS Azure and AWS seem to be proliferating these days? What should enterprises/companies be aware of when using these tools?

BR: Services like Azure and AWS will continuously grow their cloud computing services and solutions to keep up with the demands of the marketplace. Something organizations need to keep in mind is that these are not backup providers and offer little to no solutions when it comes to backing up and recovering data.

VM: With so many companies moving to the cloud and SaaS platforms, what would you say are the biggest misconceptions with data protection and SaaS offerings?

BR: Whether you make the choice to use AWS, Google Apps, remember that none of these services offer a robust backup, recovery or protection plan for user data. Remember, you’ve outsourced a service, not a data management tool, so it’s important to know that your information will not be protected when considering these services.

VM: What are some trends you’re noticing in the industry now?

BR: There are a couple of trends that we are tracking and seeing more traction with recently:

  1. Virtualization: Most companies are moving infrastructure to the cloud. Once organizations move to the cloud, keep in mind that you’ll require other services.
  2. The Rise of Data Centres:  Data Centres became popular during the early 2000’s because companies needed fast internet connections and a fluid operation to manage operational systems, ensuring that systems were efficient. At Blueshift, we’re currently extending our partnerships with data centres, providing them with backup and disaster recovery services to ensure that their clients maintain operational excellence and efficiency.
  3. Increasing Demand for Trusted IT Advisors:  I’ve noticed that our customers want us to do more than just manage their data, we’re now almost like consultants who work with them to not only provide services, but to also provide insights like a Trusted IT Advisor. We help them with their policy creation to ensure if an attack did hit, their onsite IT staff is more proactive than reactive.

VM: What is the one piece of advice you can give to companies to prevent/safeguard ransomware from affecting their data?

BR: Users/employees are the weakest chain in the link – this is typically where most of the mistakes will happen (i.e. clicking on a link in an email). We advise managers to:

  1. Train their employees by reminding/informing them of what ransomware is. Make sure they understand the ramifications of ransomware and how it can be avoided.
  2. Set up some sort of policy or guidelines around dealing with ransomware attacks. For example there should be a set of steps/reporting structure in place if computers were to be hit with ransomware.

VM: There was an experience which you had with one of your clients in Tokyo where they were hit by ransomware. How were you able to help them recover the data…can you tell us about the recovery process and what you did?

BR: There have been three instances where our clients have been hit by ransomware. This specific client was in the healthcare industry, namely in the medical device manufacturing field. On October 6, 2016, we received the call that they were not able to access files in the network. We were able to decipher that the virus was Zepto, because all affected files were renamed with the .zepto extension. We were also able to pinpoint the encryption to a specific laptop within the network where a user opened an email attachment which affected our client’s D: drive…over 300 people and over 20,000 files (approximately 20 per cent of total data). We were able to help to recover the data using our data protection solution powered by Asigra to restore the files that were affected back to their original location and we also disconnected the host workstation so the virus didn’t spread to any more machines. Although the recovery time was fairly quick, the system was down for a few hours because our client wanted us fully educate their IT staff about the ramifications of ransomware and help them implement a new policy on how ransomware can be avoided.

If you would like to read the full investigation, click here to read or if you would like to see a video on how ransomware can encrypt your data: click here.

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