The Strength of Immutable Backup in Data Protection

September 22, 2023

In today’s highly competitive business world, data offers companies a life line. It underpins their operations, drives decisions, fuels innovation. It also lays the groundwork for businesses to build solid strategies, understand their customers and track what’s going on in the market. By understanding the importance of data in promoting innovation and business success, companies can prioritize development of a wider data security framework.

 

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One way they can do this is by embedding immutable backup in their data protection. Although backup immutability is a recent development, it’s crucial because it ensures your data can be recovered, even when the original copy gets lost or is compromised.

 

In this article, we explore the strength of immutable data backup in data protection.

 

The Ransomware Problem

 

Every couple of seconds, a business somewhere suffers a ransomware attack. The costs of such an attack is huge, whether the business pays the ransom or not. For businesses that suffer attacks, it can take months before they get back on their feet. Conventional backup and data recovery systems that are intended to help businesses rebounce and continue running fast are under attack. Cyber-criminals target production systems and their backups. This explains why immutable backups are designed differently to safeguard data against numerous internal and external dangers.

 

Immutable Backup as a Solution

 

The term immutable means “indelible” or “unchangeable.” Immutable backups are a form of data protection that enforces fixed or unchangeable or encrypted or unmodifiable data. Indelible backup is important for any company that wants to ensure that its data is always secure and recoverable in the event of loss due to ransomware and other cyber-attacks.

 

Immutable technology is useful in different applications to keep cybercriminals from deleting, changing, or tampering with a company’s most critical files. This means organizations that maintain immutable backups have a safe way of restoring their data and systems without giving into the demands of ransomware gangs.

 

Immutable Backup Vs. Air-Gapped Backup

 

Air-gapping refers to the practice of delinking servers or any other storage device from a computer network. This means the storage device stays offline, which protects it from viruses, ransomware and malware that spread through connected systems. Air-gapped backups are quite different from immutable backups despite the fact that they serve the same goal and purpose of protecting data.

 

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As a storage medium, air-gapping can be said to offer some level of immutability to data since it makes it inaccessible through a network. But the data isn’t really immutable. Though unavailable on the network, nothing stops a malicious actor from logging on to the server and corrupting, encrypting, or deleting stored data. Immutability backups lock the data down thoroughly, ensuring that it cannot be deleted or altered, irrespective of where it is stored or who has access.

 

How Does Immutable Backup Protect Data?

 

From a security point of view, immutable backups protect data in four main ways:

  • Guarding against Ransomware

 

Ransomware attackers encrypt data files then demand to be paid a ransom to release the data. With ransomware attacks becoming prevalent across the world. Immutable backups protect company data by keeping attackers from deleting or modifying backups. This allows companies to restore their data without having to pay the ransom.

  • Data Integrity

 

Immutable backups offer data integrity and authenticity because they can’t be changed, they are tamper-proof. For companies that have to maintain data integrity, this aspect is critical. This makes immutable backups the best go-to storage options for organizations in the financial or healthcare business.

  • Legal Compliance

 

Companies, particularly those in the financial sector must comply with regulations that require data retention for a specific period of time. For such companies, immutable data backup makes it easier for them to comply with such legal requirements as it ensures the data is not deleted or changes prior to expiry of the retention period.

  • Data Recovery

 

Companies should be in a position to recover from natural or artificial attacks fast. Immutable data makes this possible by enhancing data recovery processes so that companies can bounce back to businesses after data losses

 

How Does Immutable Backup Vary from Mutable Backup?

 

The most striking difference between immutable backups and mutable ones is that any data that a company stores in immutable storage solutions can’t be deleted, changed, or tampered with. Mutable storage, on the other hand, is easily changed, encrypted, or deleted. These are the most common tactics that cybercriminals use to force victims of ransomware attacks to pay up. Unlike immutable backups, mutable storage exposes your data to all kinds of risks. Immutable backups don’t.

 

Picking an Immutable Backup Service Providers

 

There are various factors that companies must consider when hiring immutable backup service providers. Her are the most critical ones:

 

Cloud Architecture

 

Opt for a backup solution that offers cloud-based storage architecture. This means the solution places your data in internal clusters that can’t be accessed by external users or applications

 

Read-Only Status

 

The back-up solution you select should also store data on read-only state only. Any attempts to make additions to an immutable backup like incremental backups should be written on clones. The solution should mark the read-only files once the backup process is completed. Internal writes during backups should only be allowed though authenticated APIs and trusted internal services.

 

Securing Immutable Backups

 

Although immutable backups are critical in your data protection strategy, they should not be your solo security solution. Instead, you need to combine them with other defenses to reinforce your data security solution. A great way to secure your immutable backups is to undertake one or several of these actions:

  • Implement backup encryption
  • Make use of multi-factor authentication
  • Implement multi-level resiliency
  • Verify your backups through regular updates and tests
  • Restrict access by adopting role-based controls
  • Automate alerts and mitigations in the event of attack or threat
  • Adopt a zero-trust model through stringent identity user verification

 

Final Thoughts

 

Companies can leverage the strength of immutable backup to protect their data and boost their overall security. Since these backups cannot be altered or deleted, they lower the risk of losing data significantly. Companies also experience less downtime and suffer zero to minimal consequences following cyber-attacks. This is because immutable backups provide them with the original version of their data- which is editable or unchangeable.

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