Ever since the digital transformation of the workplace, the global threat landscape has evolved. Recently, the news is filled with incidents of ransomware attacks, disruption and downtime. Among the more recent ransomware attacks have been the ones that targeted enterprise NAS storage systems.
What made the NAS storage systems vulnerable to the ransomware attacks?
And how can business owners protect their NAS storage systems from ransomware attacks and other similar threats in the future?
These are the questions we will be trying to answer in this article.
What makes NAS Appliances Vulnerable?
There are a number of reasons why enterprise IT environments fall victim to ransomware attacks or other disasters leading to data loss. To keep this article generally relatable, we’ll be discussing three common reasons:
- NAS Appliance Depends on Open Source Code for Data Management
- Consumer-Level NAS Appliance without the Necessary Enterprise Features & Data Services
- Human Error Leading to Ransomware Infection or Accidental Deletion
NAS Appliance Depends on Open Source Code for Data Management
The first two questions that might pop into your head after reading this are: why is using an open source code in your NAS storage system a bad thing? And how does it make the NAS appliance vulnerable?
The problem with open source codes is that they’re not built for the purpose of running enterprise NAS storage systems. And since they’re generally available, their problems, issues, and vulnerabilities are common knowledge.
This makes them a bad choice for enterprise NAS storage systems.
Ransomware, hackers and other similar cyber-threats are usually familiar with these vulnerabilities. Therefore, gaining root access to the storage system using an open source code is very easy for them. That is why the right choice is to use a dependable storage vendor running a reliable data storage management solution on their NAS systems.
Consumer-Level NAS Appliance without the Necessary Enterprise Features & Data Services
A NAS is a NAS; it shouldn’t hurt if it’s consumer-level or enterprise-level, right? Actually, there’s a huge difference between the two.
NAS that’s built for the SOHO (Small Office Home Office) use-case versus a NAS that’s built for the corporate usage differ in terms of hardware, compute capacities, data management, and data protection.
Consumer-level NAS is built to be economy friendly only and it doesn’t have to deal with the kind of IOPs an enterprise NAS is built for. Besides the difference in the workload they process, an enterprise NAS storage is equipped with features that facilitate data protection and make it less vulnerable to threats like ransomware, hackers, and other similar disasters that lead to data loss.
This is why it’s always the right decision to choose an enterprise NAS storage for an enterprise use-case. The consumer-level NAS, although budget friendly, can lead to data loss and thus cost a lot more than an enterprise NAS would.
Human Error Leading to Ransomware Infection or Accidental Deletion
There are ways to minimize human error but there really isn’t a way to completely bring it down to zero. One of the best ways to minimize human error is weekly training. It’s good to provide incentives and digitally empower your work force but that doesn’t completely solve the problem. As long as humans are a part of the process, there will be a possibility of human error.
So as a NAS appliance owner, what can you do? The answer is: prepare.
Set up a reliable NAS storage in the first place. A reliable enterprise NAS that delivers data services such as snapshots and replication. Both features will ensure that you have a way to recover your data if something gets deleted accidentally or if a primary hardware fails due to some mistake.
Similarly, it’s important to use a NAS appliance that offers data services like automated tiering. That way data management is easier and automated leaving no room for error.
Features such as built-in cloud storage gateway are also helpful in reducing the impact of human error. For instance, if someone accidentally deletes a file from the on-premises NAS appliance, then the system administrator can recover using the redundant copy in the cloud.
In summary, here are the do’s and don’ts for enterprises looking to avoid downtime and data loss:
- Don’t use open source code as data management software for your NAS appliances.
- Don’t use consumer-level NAS appliances for enterprise use-cases.
- Do prepare for human error by using an enterprise NAS that has data protection features
Now that we’ve established the must-have attributes of a reliable NAS appliance. Let’s take a closer look at StoneFly Super Scale Out (SSO™) NAS appliance that delivers all of these and more.
Secure & Ransomware-Proof NAS: StoneFly SSO NAS Storage Solution
StoneFly SSO NAS is a highly secure super scalable enterprise data storage system. The SSO NAS appliances are equipped with a number of data services and features poised to deliver a smoother and streamlined data storage experience.
Besides the purpose-built storage features, the SSO NAS storage is also built to prevent data loss from threats such as ransomware attacks, accidental deletion, malicious deletion etc.
Let’s take a closer look at the many data protection features that make our enterprise NAS storage secure and reliable for a variety of enterprise data storage needs:
- Delta-based Snapshots
- Volume Encryption
- Synchronous & Asynchronous Replication
Automatically Create Change-Based Snapshots of Files & Folders for Data Recovery
Our SSO NAS storage is pre-configured with StoneFly’s patented storage virtualization operating system StoneFusion™. Using the StoneFusion OS users can configure automated delta-based storage snapshots to protect important business data from data loss.
Delta-based storage snapshots are faster and economical because delta-based snapshots only create the first snapshot of the entire storage server / system and then add the changes as they’re made. This makes them a clearly better choice as compared to traditional snapshots. As traditional snapshots create “images” for the entire storage server each time. This makes them slower and inefficient.
The additional benefit of using StoneFusion and SSO NAS appliances is that StoneFusion also enables users to integrate cloud storage tiers such as Azure, Amazon S3, StoneFly private cloud, and other S3 compatible clouds. By leveraging StoneFusion as a cloud storage gateway, users can keep their delta-based storage snapshots in the cloud tier of their choice.
Keeping storage snapshots in an offsite cloud storage repository is a good practice as it makes sure that even if the primary copy is lost, users still do not completely lose their data and still recover using the storage snapshots in the cloud.
For more information on StoneFusion as a cloud storage gateway, click here: Smart Cloud Storage Gateway.
Encrypt NAS Storage Volumes with State-of-the-Art Advanced Encryption Technology
Hackers, ransomware, and other cyber security threat are usually a two pronged attack. One of their objectives is to cut off access to data so that they can ask for ransom in return. The other purpose is to access the data and sell it off in the black market.
The second objective however, depends on the nature of the business and the value of the data they’re usually storing in their enterprise NAS systems.
For instance, hospitals have medical record storages containing information such as the medical history of a patient, the social security number, the billing information, and other similar sensitive data. If the attacker gains access to this data, they can potentially sell it off for more money. Similarly, financial service providers, law enforcement departments are viable targets for these threats as well.
Encryption technology plays an important part in dealing with the two pronged assault. As long as the data is properly encrypted, even if it is somehow accessed, without the right decryption keys the attacker cannot access it.
StoneFly SSO NAS appliances deliver these capabilities to our customers via volume encryption using the StoneFusion OS. The SSO NAS system encrypts data stored on the on-premises appliance using advanced AES 256-bit encryption.
For users who choose to leverage the built-in cloud storage gateway, they can also leverage SSL/TLS tunneling for a secure data transfer to desired cloud storage tiers.
In other words, the SSO NAS systems are built to ensure that important business data, whether stored on-premises or in the cloud, is encrypted, safe and secure.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Replication for Instant Failover/Failback & Business Continuity
One of the key purposes of replication is business continuity and reduced downtime. Our data storage appliances are built to deliver a seamless and reliable data storage experience to our customers. That’s why each SSO NAS appliance is capable of synchronous and asynchronous replication using the pre-configured StoneFusion OS.
Synchronous replication enables our customers to make replicas of the mission critical data in real-time. Users can create said replicas on on-premises NAS systems, offsite NAS systems, or even in a NAS volume provisioned in the cloud using our built-in cloud storage gateway.
Synchronous replication or real-time replication consumes a considerable amount of bandwidth. However, the plus side is the creation of a secondary NAS storage system that users can failover to in the event of primary system failure.
Asynchronous replication is a more bandwidth-friendly option. However, asynchronous replication only facilitates recovery of data that was replicated in the last scheduled replication job. Therefore, it’s important to analyze the business requirements and decide on tolerable Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs).
Now that we know about the data services that StoneFly SSO NAS systems offer that make it a reliable and secure enterprise NAS. Let’s talk about the Operating System (OS) used to run the file storage system.
To learn more about our data replication technology, we recommend reading this blog: Data Replication Technology: What it is & how does it work?
StoneFusion – Patented Data Storage Operating System
To deliver the optimized file storage experience, StoneFly introduced StoneFusion back in 2002. StoneFusion is an 8th generation patented software with a million lines of code. It has been constantly developed over the years to make it more secure and purpose-built for enterprise data storage.
The NAS storage OS has a number of services, including the ones mentioned earlier, that secure enterprise NAS from cyber-threats and prevents data loss.
Moreover, we’re constantly working on upgrading and improving the software solution. Recently, we added deduplication to the OS. All of our customers are now able to integrate data deduplication with their NAS systems to optimize data storage and control data storage costs.
Unlike open source code based data storage software, StoneFusion is built to secure mission-critical enterprise data. This is why it’s trusted by enterprises worldwide.
Learn more about StoneFusion in this blog: iSCSI, NAS, Hyperconverged: Manage All with Award Winning Software
Why StoneFly Enterprise NAS Storage
For an enterprise to select StoneFly Enterprise NAS Storage is not a decision that needs too much of consideration. Our enterprise NAS appliances are the most versatile NAS ever built with reliable data services and features that deliver the optimized data storage experience and a secure storage server; along with the ability to scale out to virtually unlimited number of appliance nodes and petabytes of storage capacity.
The collection of features, hardware infrastructure, and the reliable data storage management OS makes StoneFly SSO NAS the best decision you’ll ever make for your enterprise IT environment.
Ever since WannaCry and other ransomware attacks have surfaced, data protection has become a necessity for the digitally transformed enterprise of today. It’s important that businesses are capable of preventing data loss and reducing downtime. And to do-so, it’s equally important that they acquire and setup capable tools for their use-cases.
StoneFly Inc. as an industry leader and provider of enterprise-grade data storage infrastructure delivers the kind of NAs storage systems that offer optimized data storage and data protection at the same time. This makes them the perfect fit for a variety of enterprise data storage requirements and needs.
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