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A new year has arrived. For IT and security professionals, this passing from the old to the new provides a momentary pause to contemplate what new challenges await. One that has caught our attention is ransomware. Simplistic in nature, ransomware is a form of malware. Delivered primarily through the typical vulnerable channels of phishing emails, malware-laden email attachments, and drive-by downloads, ransomware encrypts files on the victims’ computers.
To complete the scheme, the hacker contacts the victim and demands payment (ransom) in return for providing the key to decrypt the unusable encrypted files. Faced with the possibility of disrupted business operations or permanent lost access to irreplaceable or critical files, victims are compelled to pay the ransom in hopes that this sudden and pounding headache vanishes as quickly as it arrived. Historically targeted at consumers and small businesses, ransomware is growing in variety and is poised to victimize a wider spectrum of businesses.
The reason is elementary; cybercriminals gravitate to successful endeavors. With a proven track record in the training grounds of consumers and small businesses, pursuing bigger “marks” with more advanced ransom schemes (e.g., encrypting network shares) is “good business” in the eyes of cybercriminals. Being victimized does not need to be a forgone conclusion. Businesses can reduce the risk of interrupted operations, and expedite recovery, by routinely backing up their critical files, preferably in an offsite physical location.
The low-cost appeal of easily provisioned public cloud storage would appear, at first blush, to be just the right remedy. However, using public cloud storage for backup is not without its own set of reservations; most notably: potentially heightened risk of data breaches and violations of privacy regulations, and subrogation of data reliability responsibility to the public cloud provider. Fortunately, the use of public cloud storage, fully or partially, in a business’s approach to file backup is possible without placing sensitive data at risk, and without weakening data reliability. In this SPIE, we describe solutions from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Security First that serve this purpose.
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