With cloud storage readily available nowadays, the question is whether it has solved the problem of data loss. Unfortunately cloud storage has not, as there are still challenges presented by some cloud solutions available.

By Candid Wuerst, vice-president: cyber protection research at Acronis

Not all cloud solutions are efficient due to a lack of de-duplication and compression. Depending on regulations and policies, organisations may not be able to use the cloud for unencrypted backups or have some systems which are not connected to the Internet that need to be backed up. As a result, cloud backups can be hacked if there is a lack of self-protection by cloud providers.

Acronis CEO, Serguei Beloussov, regularly explains why he believes that backup is dead and that cybersecurity needs to become like washing our hands – a habit. The solution needs to bundle backup, disaster recovery, artificial intelligence-based malware protection, remote assistance and security, all into a single software product. Acronis has launched such a product, Cyber Protect.

While hardware failure still contributes to numerous data losses, ransomware attacks are definitely the main reason for data loss today. We see an increasing number of cases of malware such as ransomware being responsible for irreversible data loss in organisations.

Some of the challenges with data backup today is that a useful backup needs to be ‘fresh’ or even have continuous data backup in order to minimise data loss in case of an incident. The recovery process needs to be fast and simple to minimise downtime. On the other side, the backup process needs to be efficient, include de-duplication to save space and time and should have self-protection with an embedded defense against ransomware.

In terms of Acronis’ solution, Cyber Protect differs from traditional backup in that, as data volumes grow and methods of safeguarding the data applications and systems, Cyber Protect provides a holistic approach.

Acronis has developed a balanced approach to the five vectors of Cyber Protect: Safety, Accessibility, Privacy, Authenticity and Security. This provides a well-balanced comprehensive protection experience that goes well beyond traditional backups or classical AntiVirus solutions which only focus on segments of the solution. Businesses therefore need to evolve to full cyber protection to anticipate and defeat cyber attacks.

Active Protection uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify malware based on how it behaves, looking for suspicious activities, as opposed to matching it against a known threat database. This makes it much better at detecting previously unknown threats. It automatically identifies common malware attacks such as ransomware and cryptojacking and immediately shuts these attacks down.

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

This combination of traditional data protection (backup) and classic cybersecurity is called cyber protection. Many tech security analysts believe that the convergence of the two disciplines is the most comprehensive solution.

For individuals and organisations to make sure that their backups are safe from attacks like ransomware, it is important to understand that sophisticated ransomware threats often try to disable backup solutions and then delete existing backups. It is therefore crucial that a backup solution can self-protect itself, as well as all the created backups, by preventing write access from other processes. Preventing write access to backup files directly, or copying them to read-only locations, can sometimes help against cyber attacks. This requires the security of the cloud connection and the cloud itself.

Therefore, to become cyber fit, a strong cyber protection programme needs to be easy to use, efficient and secure. Organisations should select a security framework such as the NIST Cybersecurity framework (Identify, Product, Detect, Respond and Recover) and align these tools, tasks and processes to decrease risks and ensure that compliance obligations are met. In addition, employees need to be trained thoroughly to be prepared for modern IT needs and threats.

Being cyber fit as an organisation extends from the C-Suite offices to third-party vendors, as well as to employees that only use a single IT tool, such as an email mailbox. This requires that the entire IT chain needs to be ready, f¬¬rom the in-house team or managed service provider to everyone involved in the organisation’s IT systems to have easy, efficient and secure tools and comprehensive training to ensure a strong security posture.

The key points when look for in a cyber protection tool is that it should address all five pillars of cyber protection: Safety, Accessibility, Privacy, Authenticity and Security. The solution should have a comprehensive approach, correlating information across multiple domains. Acronis provides integrated backup, security, disaster recovery and enterprise file sync and share solutions to address these five vectors of cyber protection.

Enhanced by AI technologies and blockchain-based data authentication, Acronis protects all data, in any environment, including physical, virtual, cloud, mobile workloads and applications. Cyber Protect, and the wider product range, is built with on-premise or cloud deployment options, using blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) for distributed architecture and behavioural detection respectively.