David Trossell, CEO of Bridgeworks speaks to Digitalisation World about the top 5 benefits of WAN Acceleration.
October 16, 2023
Hackers have worked out that the most effective way to hinder an organisation is by disabling its ability to restore backups. Attacks on other systems can be rendered almost insignificant if the most vital data that enables an organisation to operate is air-gapped and kept highly secure from cyber-criminals. For example, Danish cloud hosting company CloudNordic suffered a ransomware attack in August 2023, which led to its customers losing all of their data – including backups.
The cyber-criminals were also able to shut down its website, its email and encrypted customer systems and websites. A statement released after the attack, which happened on 18th August 2023, reports that it completely paralysed CloudNordic’s operations. It also told customers in the press release:
“As we cannot and do not want to meet the financial demands of the criminal hackers for ransom, CloudNordic’s IT team and external experts have been working hard to get an overview of the damage and what was possible to recreate.
Unfortunately, it has proved impossible to recreate more data, and the majority of our customers have thus lost all data with us. This applies to everyone we have not contacted at this time. The hacking attack has been reported to the police.”
Restoration without data
In the release, the company said that it was ready to restore customers on the same name servers with a DNS administration interface, as well as new web and mail servers – but without data. It said this offered customers an opportunity to get their email and website operating again without changing domain. So, the first lesson here is to ensure that your organisation as a customer of a cloud and web hosting company doesn’t rely too much on their ability to back up your data.
At the end of the day, it’s your data, and if their backup systems are rendered inoperable with your data being lost in the process, then your own organisation could also be paralysed. It’s therefore wise to ensure that the hosting provider enables you to back up your own data in at 3 separate and widely dispersed locations – perhaps not even with the same cloud service or hosting provider.
Circles of disruption
Disaster recovery sites should also not be located within the same circles of disruption, and the most sensitive data must surely be air-gapped. Quite often, data centres and disaster recovery sites are located within the same vicinity – not too far from each other to reduce the impact of latency. However, placing data centres and disaster recovery sites too close together could be asking for trouble, allowing them to either be attacked more easily by cyber-criminals or adversely impacted by natural disasters. Yet, today, it is possible to locate data centres and disaster recovery sites thousands of miles away from each other without latency and packet loss crippling their performance.
With WAN Acceleration – which can be overlayed onto SD-WANs – firms and organisations can mitigate the effects of latency and packet loss, while boosting bandwidth utilisation to up to 98%. This is without the need to invest in new network infrastructure. Why is this important? Well, air-gapped data can be backed up and restored rapidly – even from tape backups – to ensure business and service continuity. This will allow organisations to be fully compliant with data protection laws and regulations, as well as, more crucially, permitting them to protect customer data and systems from any cyber-attack.
Even if a system is successfully attacked by cyber-criminals, having WAN Acceleration backing and restoring data – faster than WAN Optimisation and SD-WANs alone– gives organisations a better change of ensuring that data is not totally lost. It also ensures that the impact of any disaster is at least minimised – using artificial intelligence, machine learning and data parallelisation.
Keep ahead of hackers
Of course, protecting data and your organisation from paralysis isn’t just about technology; it’s also about having a strategy in place to prevent cyber-criminals from accessing your data and your customers’ data in the first place. This is to ensure that any type of attack – ransomware or otherwise – is unsuccessful in the first place. It’s also about how you can keep air-gapped data updated as often as possible, while cutting the data off from the network so that it can’t be accessed – except when it’s necessary to restore it whenever a breach, or a systems failure renders it absolutely necessary.
So, here are five reasons as to why organisations should deploy WAN Acceleration – even as an overlay on SD-WANs:
1. WAN Acceleration mitigates latency and packet loss more efficiently than any other system. It is data agnostic and, unlike WAN optimisation, it permits encrypted data to be expedited without you having to hand over the encryption keys before it is sent or when it is received – increasing the security of your data in transit. With WAN Acceleration, you keep hold of your own encryption keys, making your data that much more secure.
2. It makes the air-gapping of the most sensitive data more viable and permits data centres and disaster recovery sites to be located thousands of miles apart from each other without performance being impinged by latency and packet loss.
3. As mentioned above, bandwidth utilisation is also increased, allowing organisations to do more with their existing network infrastructure. With the mitigation of latency and packet loss, as well as bandwidth utilisation improvements, WAN Acceleration makes rapid and regular backups and restores more possible. This increases the likelihood of an organisation remaining operational, even in the face of a successful cyber-attack.
For example, not so long-ago CVS Healthcare turned to a WAN acceleration solution, the installation of which took only 15 minutes. As a result, it reduced the original 50GB back-up from 12 hours to 45 minutes. That equates to a 94% reduction in backup time. This enabled the organisation to complete daily back-ups of its data, equating to 430GB, in less than 4 hours per day.
So, in the face of a calamity, it could perform disaster recovery in less than 5 hours to recover everything completely. Of course, to prevent a calamity such as that faced by CloudNordic, backups might have to be done more frequently.
4. WAN Acceleration can ensure that your organisations achieve and maintains compliance with data protection laws and regulations, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and the UK equivalent. It may also help organisations to comply with other jurisdiction data protection regimes too, while preventing them from being hit by data protection breach fines and the cost of lost customers; as well as the cost of lost operating capabilities and time.
5. WAN Acceleration makes a positive case for ensuring your backups are protected from cyber-attack, and for the use of artificial intelligent and machine learning. This is an era where even generative AI systems are being used to conduct ransomware attacks, and so having an AI and ML tool in your armoury could even forestall their own ability to paralyse your organisation.
So, to prevent a successful cyber-attack, it’s important to think like they do and to think out of the box. Try something new, be innovative in your thinking and – remember – it’s now vital to back up your backups to ensure that the cyber-criminals can’t stop you from operating or leave you in a situation where your own and your customers’ data is lost for good. WAN Acceleration offers a service and business continuity opportunity, which can also support SD-WANs and rapidly restore air-gapped data.