With the growing prevalence of ransomware as a significant threat to business continuity, many businesses are starting to look at Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) as an essential tool in the toolbox of threat mitigation. Indeed, the effects of ransomware include data loss, regulatory fines, and reputation damage—and sometimes the last one can be the nail in the coffin for a business. When a ransomware attack occurs, you have two choices, and you must choose quickly: 1. Pay the ransom and hope you get your data back (sometimes you don’t) or 2. Replace the infected systems and datasets with clean copies.
If you choose option 1, it encourages cybercriminal activity because the attacks remain profitable, which is bad news for everyone. This is perhaps why most respondents in a recent survey from Pulse/InterVision named ransomware was their top IT risk.
The very make-up of IT has shifted because of the growing threat of downtime and cyber-attacks, as leadership tries to accommodate stakeholders who are placing pressure on them to secure internal operations and supply chains. The similarities between natural disaster-related outages and cyber breaches are driving security incident response and IT-DR teams under a single umbrella, tasked with keeping operations running no matter the event type. Market competitiveness depends upon accessibility to digital assets, so shutting IT systems down isn’t an option, but this is exactly what ransomware mitigation requires. As a result, strengthening your overall IT stance with Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) allows organizations to recover quickly from downtime while your IT team is actively focused on solving for a ransomware attack.
Ransomware Threats Demand a Holistic Perspective
Cybersecurity incidents of any sort demand a holistic approach for reliable protection and recovery. Because no solution will ever be 100% effective in stopping breaches or data exposure, especially since personnel may invite attacks unwittingly, establishing a balanced attention with a focus on both preventative AND restorative measures is how you protect your business effectively.
The biggest component on the restorative side of the equation is a reliable disaster recovery (DR) plan. And this includes recovery from a cybersecurity event like ransomware. Since every second of downtime means lost revenue for a business, it’s paramount to have both a plan to mitigate data loss as well as a plan to ensure fast uptime. DRaaS when paired with its cousin, Backup as a Service (BaaS), are the only way to achieve both assurances of speed and protection against data loss.
DRaaS outshines traditional DR approaches like retrieving physical tape backups from a vault somewhere because the recovery time is much faster. Similarly, BaaS allows for increased speed of recovery because it decreases the retrieval time for stored datasets. Leveraging these two newest innovations in the realm of business continuity allows for organizations to failover their daily operations into the cloud and continue as close to normal as possible while your IT experts address the ransomware infection. Once they have resolved the cyber incident with the comprehensive attention needed, simply wipe the infected datasets clean and restore full operations back to normal again.
DRaaS Helps Establish Data Protection for the Long Term
The cornerstone of any data protection strategy demands both a plan to ensure the security of data as well as a plan to restore that data back to the business for normal operations. Because ransomware incidents have many of the same repercussions as a disaster event, a DRaaS plan helps to establish a common thinking across the entire IT team, applying lessons learned from both the cybersecurity and DR teams, which takes traditional approaches to DR to a new level to accomplish the service level agreement (SLA) demands of the modern century. With various replication tools and storage options available, a stretched budget doesn’t need to mean a compromised business.
DRaaS solves for both fast uptime after an event and preventing data loss—which satisfies the priorities of many business stakeholders. In a ransomware attack, the recovery point objective (RPO) makes all the difference, since it can be the line between paying the cybercriminal or restoring your systems to normal without paying a hefty ransom fee. With DRaaS, companies can gain the granularity needed to restore just seconds or minutes before the attack occurred, which could mean near-zero data loss in the end.
Making Improvements to Your DR Plan Means Testing It
Be sure to test your data protection plan once you have it in place – after all, this is the only way to tell if it will work during an event. You’d be surprised how many organizations have no idea if they can recover simply because they haven’t tested their DR plans. This is an area where a DRaaS provider can help, since it’s the “as a service” part of the solution. Sometimes this can mean testing your plan entirely on your behalf.
The goal of DR testing is to ensure that you can get the entire workforce returned to normal, and fast. But simply retrieving data and deploying copies to production doesn’t match the needs of a ransomware event, since the IT team must preserve the infected applications for forensic evidence until they are ready to be wiped clean. This is why DRaaS is so great—it allows for a failover into a separate cloud environment while the IT team gives proper attention to the impacted environment.
Here are three quick steps that summarize how to recover from ransomware using DRaaS:
- Refer to your DRaaS plan and contact your experts (insurance provider, DRaaS provider, etc.)
- Pause and decide the extent of recovery you need (full failover, partial failover, recovery of a single application, etc.)
- Execute your recovery process (follow your DR runbook; keep key parties informed of progress)
The Future of Business Continuity Preparedness
As business evolves into the future, cybercriminal disruptions won’t be going away, so businesses will need to evolve along with the rising threat landscape. DRaaS can act as a restoration strategy for ransomware attacks, as well as other cyber events, protecting critical data and IP when it’s needed most.
Consult with a DRaaS provider like InterVision to learn more about how DRaaS can play a role in ransomware mitigation. Taking a holistic approach to cybersecurity is the best starting point toward a better IT stance and a DRaaS plan empowers your IT team with a strong plan to recover in the aftermath of an event. With DRaaS, you can elevate the principles for continuity to match with larger business goals for the long-term, thereby strengthening business viability for the future.
Learn more about InterVision’s DRaaS solutions here.
*A version of this article first appeared in XaaS Journal