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9 Reasons why LTO-9 Tape is the Ultimate Last Line of Defence for Repelling Ransomware

Introduction

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, organisations need a multi-layered defence strategy to protect their critical data from ransomware attacks. While various security measures play vital roles, Linear Tape-Open (LTO) tape technology stands out as the ultimate last line of defence in ransomware protection. In this article, we will summarise nine specific reasons why LTO tape is the ideal safeguard against ransomware attacks.

1. Air Gap Protection

LTO tape technology enables the creation of an “air gap”: a physical separation between your data and the rest of your network, which makes it inaccessible to online threats like ransomware. Data stored at rest on tape inside a tape library is difficult, but not impossible, to tamper with. But data stored outside the library, in a secure, controlled offline environment, is extremely difficult to compromise unless you can physically gain access or control over the storage facility which (arguably) is an entirely different threat to guard against. When stored offline, therefore, the data stored on LTO tapes remains safe from encryption or alteration, ensuring that your critical information remains intact, even during a ransomware attack.

2. Immutable Data

Once data is written to an LTO tape, it becomes immutable, meaning it cannot be modified or deleted. This immutability protects against data tampering by ransomware, as the data on the tape remains in a read-only state. This guarantees the integrity of your data and ensures that it cannot be altered, even by sophisticated attackers.

3. Longevity and Durability

LTO tapes have a remarkable lifespan, often exceeding 30 years when stored correctly. This longevity and durability provide a reliable solution for long-term data preservation. Your data will remain accessible and intact even after decades, which is crucial for maintaining historical records and compliance requirements.

4. Cost-Effective Data Storage

Compared to other storage solutions, LTO tape offers a cost-effective means of archiving and protecting data. This makes it an attractive choice for organisations looking to secure their data without breaking the budget. The lower upfront investment in LTO technology is substantially less than paying a ransom, making it a cost-effective option. As detailed in an earlier article, ransom payments can vary significantly, with attackers demanding anywhere from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars. According to Coveware, the average ransomware payment in Q4 2023 was $568,705 – more than ten times the cost of a midrange tape system like the HPE StoreEver MSL3040.

5. Scalability

LTO tape libraries are scalable and can accommodate growing data storage needs. Whether your organisation is small, medium, or large, LTO tape technology allows you to adapt your data protection strategy to match the ever-expanding volume of data. This scalability ensures that you can continue to secure your data effectively and keep more of your critical business information out of the reach of cybercriminals.

6. Complete Data Recovery

In the event of a ransomware attack, swift data recovery is crucial to minimise downtime and operational disruptions. HPE Storage technologies like Zerto and StoreOnce Catalyst can assist businesses in the initial stages of a ransomware incident by helping them rapidly regain the functionality of mission critical systems. But IT infrastructure is complex and data breaches can extend more deeply and widely than simply front-line systems. Cybercriminals will attempt to take control of servers, PCs, laptops, Internet of Things devices and sensors, backups and even assets hosted in the cloud. In reality, fully purging the network environment of the ill-effects of a cybersecurity breach typically takes weeks or even months. In this broader context, the fact that data stored on tape may take longer to recover is not a material disadvantage if having the data offline is the only reason it is available!

LTO tape technology helps to facilitate complete data recovery, enabling organisations to restore systems and data quickly. It can ensure that your business can resume operations without undue delays or loss of data, saving both time and money.

7. Offline Storage

One of the key features of LTO tape technology is that it is an offline storage medium. This inherent isolation safeguards the data against ransomware attacks that primarily target online assets. Cybercriminals cannot encrypt what is not connected to the network, providing an added layer of security and peace of mind.

8. Protection from Extortion

With an offline copy of your data stored on LTO tapes, you have more control over the outcome and can reduce your organisation’s exposure to extortion attempts by cybercriminals. When you have a secure, offline backup, you can confidently make a decision on whether or not to pay the ransom, denying attackers the successful outcome of exploiting your vulnerability. This protection might not only save you money but also upholds ethical and legal standards.

9. Data Recovery Flexibility

Finally, LTO tape technology offers a more efficient and flexible data recovery environment. In the event of a ransomware attack, you can have additional options to restore systems and data from offline backups that may be deeper and wider than those available in the cloud or from other sources like backup snapshots (which themselves may have been subjected to cyberattack). This flexibility will likely lessen the impact of a ransomware attack and reduce the associated costs of downtime, investigations, and legal complications.

Conclusion

A 2023 study conducted by Adience Market Research for HPE and FUJIFILM Recording Media, that after a ‘successful’ ransomware attack, only one in ten customers recovered all their on-prem data while just under a third lost everything.

But a key message is that it’s not all doom and gloom. By investing in cybersecurity awareness; improving employee and partner awareness; adopting robust cybersecurity measures; keeping up-to-speed with the latest developments in ransomware tactics, organisations can turn the odds in their favour.

In the ongoing battle against ransomware, a multi-layered defence strategy is essential to protect your organisation’s critical data. LTO tape technology, with its air gap protection, immutability, longevity, and cost-effectiveness, serves as the ideal last line of defence. It ensures the integrity and accessibility of your data, even in the face of ransomware attacks.

One fundamental thing that you can consider is keeping a master copy of all your critical data offline on HPE StoreEver tape. By maintaining clean datasets physically offline and disconnected from the rest of the network, you create a secure barrier that cybercriminals – however ingenious – cannot hack into remotely. Short of donning balaclavas and sneaking into the vault themselves, they cannot compromise your data. This means you are in control of the outcome and, importantly, your business’s ability to continue to function on your terms, not those of the cybercriminal!

If you want to discuss your LTO tape solutions requirements, please contact sales@pmddatasolutions.co.uk so one of our specialist sales team can assist you.