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Traditional backup is dead – You need cyber protection

By 2020

2020-03-27 Having basic data backup procedures or even cloud storage is simply not good enough anymore. The spread of ransomware and other data security threats means that a more comprehensive approach is needed.

Acronis calls this Cyber Protection.

“Cyber protection tools should address all five pillars of cyber protection: Safety, Accessibility, Privacy, Authenticity, and Security,” said the Vice President of Cyber Protect Research at Acronis, Candid Wüest.

Wüest explained that any cyber protection solution should have a comprehensive approach, correlating information across multiple domains.

“Acronis believes that the best approach to this fast-changing threat environment is two-pronged: use AI to knock down ransomware and other attacks before they have a chance to take root, and if something somehow gets past those defences, recover any compromised data from a recent backup,” said Wüest.

“This combination of traditional data protection (backup) and classic cybersecurity is called cyber protection, and many tech security analysts believe that the convergence of the two disciplines is inevitable.”

Wüest said that Acronis will be launching a product in March called Cyber Protect which is specifically designed to address this need.

Acronis cyber protection solutions and services are distributed in Africa by Synapsys. Synapsys is an award-winning distributor founded in 1997. It became one of the world’s first Acronis distributors in 2003.

Synapsys is completely focussed on supporting managed service providers who sell Acronis cyber protection solutions and services to their customers, helping them to maximise the benefits of this pioneering technology and way of working.

Ransomware a bigger problem than hard drive crashes

Before cloud storage and backup services became widespread for enterprise and home use, hard drive crashes were a major cause of data loss.

While the risk of losing data due to a hard drive crash is still present, Wüest stated that ransomware attacks are the main reason for data loss today.

Datto, in its State of the Channel Ransomware Report, found that 79% of managed service providers (MSPs) reported ransomware attacks against customers from Q2 2016 to Q2 2018. In the first half of 2018, 35% of MSPs stated that clients suffered multiple attacks in a single day.

The report confirmed that attacks don’t just target local machines, but cloud services as well. Datto found that 28% of MSPs reported seeing ransomware attacks in software-as-a-service applications.

It also found that fewer than 1 in 4 ransomware attacks are reported to authorities, meaning that the problem is bigger than we know.

More recently, the FBI said the incidence of broad, indiscriminate ransomware campaigns in the United States sharply declined since early 2018. However, losses from ransomware attacks have increased significantly.

“Although state and local governments have been particularly visible targets for ransomware attacks, ransomware actors have also targeted health care organizations, industrial companies, and the transportation sector,” the FBI stated.

Wüest said that Acronis sees an increasing number of cases of malware such as ransomware being responsible for irreversible data loss in organisations. The rise of ransomware attacks is one of the reasons you can’t just rely on cloud backup systems to keep your data safe anymore.

“Cloud backups are often easy to be hacked due to lack of self-protection,” Wüest warned.

“Sophisticated ransomware threats often try to disable backup solutions and then delete existing backups. It is therefore crucial that a backup solution can protect itself and all the created backups.”

This can be done by preventing write access from other processes.

“Preventing write access to backup files directly or copying them to read-only locations can sometimes also help against cyber-attacks,” said Wüest, though he added that for this to work the cloud connection and the cloud platform itself must also be secure.

Data backup challenges

Some of the biggest challenges organisations face with their data backups is frequency, recovery speed, efficiency, self-protection and regulatory compliance.

For a backup to be useful, it must be recent. A continuous data backup is ideal to minimise data loss in case of an incident.

The recovery process also needs to be fast and simple to minimise downtime after a data loss incident.

In addition to this, a backup process needs to be efficient. Wüest explained that a good backup system should deduplicate data to save space and time.

“Data backup should have self-protection with embedded defence against ransomware,” said Wüest.

“In addition to this, backup storage locations need to be compliant to various regulations, like for example GDPR.” It is expected that South Africa’s version of such data privacy regulations, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) will soon come fully into force.

AI-powered cyber protection

Wüest explained that it is necessary for cyber protection systems to not only respond to known threats, but to also anticipate attacks it may have never seen before.

“That’s why behavioural anti-malware like the one found in Acronis Backup with Active Protection has emerged as an important defence against hackers,” Wüest stated.

Active Protection uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify malware by how it behaves, looking for suspicious activities instead of only matching it against a known threat database.

This makes it much better at detecting previously unknown threats.

“It automatically identifies common malware attacks like ransomware and crypto-jacking and immediately shuts them down,” said Wüest.

New challenges, new opportunity

“While the market segment that we’re entering is very well established, this integrated and intelligent approach offers a new opportunity,” said Peter French, the Managing Director of Synapsys.

“The huge increase in cloud uptake means far greater complexity when it comes to managing these multiple and separate environments. There are new security challenges at play.”

One example is when companies have more mobile users and users working from home.

“Especially in a time like this where we’re seeing big tech companies, and I think soon even smaller companies, start to encourage that – even if it’s for a short period,” said French.

“The essential need is to have a solution or solutions that will cater to your cyber protection strategies and offer you maximum protection.”

Legislation such as POPIA is also a factor.

“We need to know what is happening in our network, on our endpoints, which users are potential risks on our network, and we need to be able to deal with that swiftly and centrally from a single pane of glass,” French said.

Cyber fitness

In addition to adopting a solid cyber protection solution, organisations should ensure that employees are trained thoroughly to be prepared for modern IT needs and threats.

Acronis refers to this is becoming CyberFit.

Being CyberFit comes from the organisation’s leaders, whether the CEO, CFO, CTO, or CIO. From there it extends to third-party vendors and all the way to the employees that only use a single IT tool – an email mailbox.

“Being CyberFit requires that the entire chain of IT needs to be ready: f­­rom the in-house team to managed service provider,” Wüest explained.

Everyone involved in an organisation’s IT systems needs to have easy, efficient, and secure tools and comprehensive training to ensure a strong security posture.

“Your organisation should select a security framework like the NIST Cybersecurity framework: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover,” Wüest said.

“From there align your tools, tasks, and processes to decrease risk and ensure compliance obligations are met.”

This article was first published on MyBroadband on 27 March 2020 in partnership with Synapsys and Acronis.

Synapsys, Acronis empower local MSPs with technical certification training

By 2020

2020-03-27 At the end of February, Synapsys, the leading distributor of Acronis cyber protection in Africa, facilitated in-person Acronis Cyber Cloud training for its managed service provider (MSP) partners from Ghana, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa. Markus Bauer, Acronis partner technology evangelist, delivered the training, and was joined in South Africa by Maria Alexandrova, Acronis partner account manager.

The training covered Acronis Cyber Cloud functionality, an introduction to configuring Acronis Cyber Cloud and offering multi-tier, multi-tenant backup services, as well as tips, workarounds and best practice. The 85 MSP training attendees are now fully qualified Acronis Certified Engineers (ACE) Cyber Cloud, enabling them to set up, configure and troubleshoot backup using Acronis Cyber Cloud for their clients.

“Learning about a solution is great, but seeing it demonstrated brings the value much closer to home,” said Delali Tetteh, CEO of ITRUS in Ghana. “Having Markus, who clearly has had hundreds of hours of experience working with the platform, share his experiences was priceless.”

“Acronis Certified Engineer training is an absolute must. My understanding of the product, its capabilities and the roadmap for the future are abundantly clearer,” said Matthew Collison, senior technical manager at iStore Business in South Africa. “This is not only good for engineers, but a great source of valuable information for sales staff.”

“It is extremely valuable to have Acronis’ thought leaders visit and engage with the local ecosystem through training and other events. With Africa being a key growth area for Acronis and Synapsys, this heralds the start of regular ongoing partner enablement sessions in 2020,” said Peter French, managing director of Synapsys. “We anticipate more events throughout the continent, including The Acronis Cyber Foundation opening a school in South Africa.”

Introducing Acronis Cyber Protect

As well as running the ACE training, Bauer gave guests at Synapsys partner dinners in Cape Town and Johannesburg a preview of the game-changing Acronis Cyber Protect product. First announced at the Acronis Global Cyber Summit in October 2019, this is a revolutionary new approach to backup and cyber security, which acknowledges that these domains can no longer be considered separate if businesses truly want to protect their valuable data. Built around the five vectors of safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity and security (SAPAS), Acronis’ Cyber Protect works across all environments: virtual, physical, cloud and mobile.

MSPs can now easily protect customers’ infrastructure and data beyond backup, improving their SLAs, increasing revenue per customer, controlling costs and decreasing customer churn.

“While patch management and malware protection were big attraction points of Acronis Cyber Protect, the highlight was the integrated approach. A single cost for a complete solution is an MSP’s dream,” said French.

Acronis Cyber Protect is currently in beta, and all the Synapsys MSPs who attended the training have been invited to test it. Commercial launch is expected at the end of March 2020.

Other comments from attendees of the training and partner dinners:

“The training was very interesting and I enjoyed the support the Synapsys team rendered throughout. The trainer was not only training, but also interactive, which made the training live.”
Michael Nyirenda, technical director at Dynamic IT Consultancy, Malawi

“The training covered details of the latest version of Acronis Cyber Cloud (8.0), complete with marketing tips and ideas to help grow our businesses. Synapsys played host to the experience and went out of their way to ensure complete comfort and satisfaction for all participants. We enjoyed two interactive days of training and insight into what is on the horizon for Acronis as far as new and exciting features go.”
Mike Edmunds, head of partner marketing at Bastion Backups, South Africa

“I found the training to be very informative and practical for our day-to-day use. I’m really looking forward to the release of the Acronis Cyber Cloud update, which will bring some great features.”
Stewart Chifamba, systems administrator at 1-grid, South Africa

“It’s evident that Synapsys and Acronis value strong relationships with their partners, which is something we at 1-grid also feel strongly about. I’m also excited to see some of the features of Acronis Cyber Cloud in action.”
Nico Visser, DevOps manager at 1-grid, South Africa

This article was first published on ITWeb on 12 March 2020