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Mar 26 2019

Fend Off Ransomware Attacks with FUJITSU Storage ETERNUS LT140 Tape System

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In mid-May 2017, a fast-spreading malware dubbed WannaCry began to wreak havoc on thousands of computer systems worldwide. Targeted towards machines running Windows operating systems, it encrypted data on infected systems and then pressed users to pay a ransom in bitcoins. Soon after the outbreak, researchers accidentally identified a kill switch left by a sloppy coder and used it and its successors to eventually stop the propagation of the program within a matter of 10 days.

But even though the security community's response was quick and successful, it didn't stop WannaCry from invading a bunch of critical IT infrastructures across the globe: In the UK, it worked its way into the systems run by hospitals operated by the National Health Service (NHS). In the U.S., it hit the international logistics service FedEx. In Germany, the national railway company Deutsche Bahn and telecom carrier O2 were among the victims. Elsewhere, WannaCry befell the networks of automakers, banks, colleges, and even police forces and federal or state ministries. By popular estimate, the malware is believed to have affected more than 200,000 systems worldwide; the EU's law enforcement agency Europol puts that number even higher – at 300,000.

One would think that such an onslaught might serve as a huge warning sign to all organizations that are likely to become a target in similar attacks. However, a year later Europol determined that even though its growth had slowed, ransomware still produced a larger number of financially motivated malware attacks than banking Trojans and therefore retained its dominance – a trend the agency doesn't expect to stop anytime soon. In fact, Europol seems to agree with reports that suggest that over the past two years, criminals have unleashed 35 "unique ransomware strains" and raked in US-$25 billion. With that in mind, it's easy to see why potential perpetrators think there are still enough targets out there worth attacking. And depending on who they take aim at, the consequences could be disastrous – just imagine what might happen if a ransomware attack hit power plants, airports, traffic control systems or other public utilities.

A Practical Defense...
As we've already pointed out before, one effective approach to help organizations protect themselves against ransomware attacks is the so-called 3-2-1 backup method. It essentially stipulates that by rule of thumb, users must at least keep three copies of data on two different types of storage media and lay away one copy in a remote location. That way, companies can make sure at least one set of data survives, even if the other two fall victim to criminal attacks or natural disasters. However, the 3-2-1 method must be applied flexibly and incorporated into a broader set of data protection policies that implement adequate protection levels for data of different value. Hence every organization needs to establish what types of data it stores and how critical these are for carrying out its specific business model. Afterwards they can determine how many copies must be kept for how long and whether additional protective measures, such as AES encryption, must be applied or not. In other words, sometimes the 3-2-1 approach alone may not be good enough and should be enhanced, whereas in another context it may amount to overkill.

...with Adequate Hardware
Because the 3-2-1 method relies on keeping remote copies, users will have to decide which technology and media they want to employ to do this. As it stands, some may be ruled out right off the bat either because they're too expensive, like disk or flash arrays, or because of capacity limits and a lack of usability, like optical media and disk libraries. Consequently, IT departments have to look for a technology that is affordable as well as easy to operate and provides capacities in the terabyte or even petabyte range. Such a technology exists in the form of tape systems: Often pronounced dead as newer technologies arrived, they still retain a strong position in sophisticated tiered-storage scenarios thanks to first-grade cost-capabilities ratios. This is the main reason why Fujitsu's ETERNUS LT family of tape systems has played a pivotal role in the context of our ETERNUS brand since it was first introduced roughly ten years ago. Initially marketed as entry-level systems, their functionality was soon expanded in an effort to help customers build highly-scalable and cost-efficient backup solutions. To achieve this and stay in sync with the latest technical developments, we have constantly modernized the product family in accordance with the roadmap provided by the Linear Tape-Open (LTO) consortium, an industry association of vendors formed at the end of the 1990s.

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Fig. 1: FUJITSU Storage ETERNUS LT140 – our most scalable and flexible tape system for small to medium-sized environments to date

Sometimes, however, it's not enough to just update existing technology. Instead, you will have to take bold steps to convince customers that tape will continue to play a key part in advanced storage scenarios for quite some time. Our recently introduced FUJITSU Storage ETERNUS LT140 is such a bold step: a future-ready tape system that combines the enterprise-class performance of the latest industry standard LTO-8 with a highly modular design to meet ever-expanding storage, backup and archiving needs. CIOs and storage administrators who intend to raise their firms' data protection levels would be well-advised to take a look at it, for various reasons:

  • The ETERNUS LT140 is a robust platform that relies on time-tested technology and provides unprecedented scalability and speed as per LTO-8: Storage capacities per medium amount to 12 TB native and 30 TB compressed, and data transfer rates can reach up to 2.7 TB per hour per drive.
  • As a high-density product, it provides up to 40 slots and three tape drives per single 3U module. Maximum storage capacities per module thus range from 480 TB native to 1.2 PB compressed.
  • As a modular system, the ETERNUS LT140 is highly adaptable to individual storage needs. Users can start with a minimum configuration that includes a base module equipped with 20 slots, up to three LTO-6/LTO-7/LTO-8 drives with SAS or FC interface, optional redundant power supplies, and an integrated LCD screen for easy operation and maintenance. By contrast, the maximum configuration consists of a base module with 40 slots and up to six expansion modules, each equipped with the same number of slots, up to three LTO tape drives and a separate set of power supplies. As a result, storage capacity increases sevenfold, to a maximum of 8.4 PB per system, whereas backup speeds clock in at 56.7 TB per hour optimum.
  • Thanks to its modular design, the ETERNUS LT140 can adapt to a multitude of usage scenarios that range from implementing entry-level tape automation right through to serving as the last and ultimate line of defense against malware outbreaks of the WannaCry or Petya caliber.
  • It goes without saying that the ETERNUS LT140 also implements the entire set of LTO security features, including hardware-based encryption with AES-256 and encryption key management, WORM (Write Once, Read Many) technology for generating tamper-proof media, and partitioning for enhanced file control and space management via LTFS.
  • Lastly, as you would expect the LT140 integrates well with other members of the ETERNUS family, in particular the ETERNUS CS line of data protection appliances that also natively support LTO-8 technology.

As our most scalable and flexible solution for small to medium-sized environments yet, the ETERNUS LT140 paves the way towards implementing effective, long-term data protection and disaster recovery strategies. And by enabling IT teams to add more capacity on a pay-as-you-grow basis, simply by adding more tape cartridges and drives, it ensures that the system is able to handle an ever-growing number of emails, documents and structured or unstructured data sets.

Availability and Pricing
The Fujitsu ETERNUS LT140 is available globally, either directly from Fujitsu or through channel partners. Pricing varies according to configuration.

Roopa Vispi

 

About the Author:

Roopa Vispi

Specialist Marketing Manager – Storage Products

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