Yep. That’s one headline I saw this weekend about the WannaCry attack. And I guess we can understand that sentiment, maybe. Our view at Global Data Vault, is our job is to be ready to help any of our customers hit by this outrageous attack. Our customers use our services to recover from Ransomware attacks quite regularly and this one is far from over, and I suspect we’ll help our customers perform more than a handful of recoveries. We may all know this by now, but here is some background on the subject.
Ransomware is malware that encrypts and sometimes later deletes files from computers, smartphones, and other intelligent devices – now even including TVs. Ransomware is operated by organized crime gangs, many of whom are based in Russia. The proceeds of these attacks are being used to fund terrorism, human trafficking, drug operations and other nefarious activities.
The first known Ransomware attack occurred at a World Health Organization AIDS conference in 1989. At the time, the intent was to extort small amounts of money. Another early implementation posed itself as antivirus software which the victims were encouraged to purchase in order to eradicate malware that was planted by the same code.
Today, with attacks from so many sources, and with the advent of untraceable virtual currencies like Bitcoin, and through the existence of sophisticated encryption algorithms, ransomware has become a billion-dollar industry.
There is even a market that supplies tools to build ransomware and tech support for implementing attacks. The encryption is often now 256 bit RSA grade and is too sophisticated for even large technical organizations to solve. Citrix reports that many large companies are keeping Bitcoin available as a last-resort.
Even further frightening are cases where remote access trojans have been used to monitor a potential victim to determine the scope of the organization and assess its ability to pay a given ransom.
CryptoLocker was the first wideapread attack and first appeared in 2013. It was supported by a large network of malware bots (together called a botnet) which is used to distribute the actual attack. Cryptolocker extorted over $3 million before being shut down by the Department of Justice who took control of the botnet and issued a warrant and a bounty for Russian hacker Evgeniy Bogachev for his involvement.
New threats exist; Cryptowall is believed to have extorted over $350 million; Locky operated in 30 languages; Petya encrypts entire hard drives. As bad as these are Cerber is the most prevalent, accounting for 90% of Windows ransomware.
Cyber attacks through email attachments. Word, Excel and PDF files containing dangerous macros are sent as bait – usually calling themselves invoices, etc. If the user opens the file and allows the macro to run, the attack will generally succeed. Your inbox has become your most vulnerable point.
Avoidance and Prevention
- Patch Everything – as often as possible – patch every application.
- Do not allow local admin rights on user desktops.
- Desktop antivirus is helpful but not enough because the attackers are continually recompiling their code to escape detection. Secure email gateways also help but are also limited for the same reason.
- BACKUP – is the only real protection!
- Follow the 3-2-1 rule: Always have 3 backups, on 2 media types and 1 offsite. More on the 3-2-1 rule later.
As a service provider working in this area, we see attacks on a weekly basis. We have performed hundreds of recoveries. The following points are the lessons learned from our own experience and the well-organized thoughts on this subject from Rick Vanover Director of Technical Product Marketing at Veeam Software.
- Use different credentials for backup jobs! An attack or attacker with credentials to access your system might also attack your backups.
- At some point commit data to offline media such at tape. If it’s offline, it cannot be attacked.
- Use Veeam Cloud Connect (we do). It uses a different method of authentication and a different backup API.
- Store backups in a different file system.
- Take SAN snapshots of your local backup repository.
- Expand and master the 3-2-1 rule – use the 3-2-1-1 rule: have 3 copies of your data, on 2 types of media, have least 1 offsite and at least 1 offline.
- Test – have 0 errors after recovery is tested! Veeam’s Sure Backup verification is one great way to test.
While this is a good start, there are other many other technical strategies we implement for our customers. GDV employs as many as possible for each of our customers. We’re always happy to discuss how you can leverage these ideas.
We hope this is helpful. Good luck and stay ready.
Dallas, TX August 13, 2015 – Dallas-based Global Data Vault (GDV) has once again been named to the LSU Top 100, an annual list of the top 100 fastest growing companies in the world. The list focuses on companies that are owned or operated by graduates of Louisiana State University.
“We are again both honored and delighted to be named alongside the innovative companies that comprise the LSU 100 Class of 2015,” says GDV CEO William Baccich. “Our success wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated team of employees and loyal stakeholders.”
Companies who are candidates for recognition on the LSU 100 are ranked using compound annual growth over a two-year period. The purpose is to recognize business leadership, growth and business ethics standards that are consistent with the values and image of the Stephenson Entrepreneur Institute (SEI) and LSU. The LSU Top 100 is also a forum to help illuminate the impact LSU graduates have on the local, regional and national economies. The LSU 100 was created by SEI to offer encouragement, education, networking and assistance to entrepreneurially-minded students, faculty, and businesses.
Global Data Vault, a cloud-based disaster recovery and data protection company, is led by CEO Will Baccich who graduated from LSU in 1980. After obtaining his computer science degree from LSU, Baccich was in involved in accounting and computer software. In 2004 he started Global Data Vault, offering disaster recovery as a service and online backup.
Headquartered in Dallas, the company serves its clients with data centers in Dallas, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada. Today the company is a leader in disaster recovery, data backup and cloud storage solutions.
Global Data Vault will be recognized at the 2015 LSU Honoree Luncheon to be held October 23rd at the L’Auberge Casino Hotel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The “LSU 100” is more than just a recognition and award ceremony however. It celebrates the spirit of success by providing a vehicle to pass lessons on to the next generation of LSU entrepreneurs. The weekend also happens to feature a home football game for the LSU Tigers.
Global Data Vault is a market leader providing cloud-based disaster recovery, advanced data protection, online server backup and online PC backup for businesses of all sizes. Combining disk-to-disk backup, secure remote replication, and fully-automated virtualized recovery technology, Global Data Vault delivers superior solutions to ensure the business continuity of customers across the U. S. and around the world.
Global Data Vault delivers services from secure, redundant, geographically diverse data centers that have achieved quality standards including a Service Organization Controls 1 (SOC 1) Type 2 report, as well as meeting SSAE 16 standards, and the SysTrust (SOC 3) seal for service organizations. For information about Global Data Vault, visit www.globaldatavault.com or follow GDV on twitter @globaldatavault.
For additional information about the LSU 100 visit www.lsu100.com or The Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute, which is an integral part of LSU’s E. J. Ourso College of Business, utilizes the Entrepreneurship Fellows Program, LSU Executive Education, Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, and the Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Series to address the challenges of entrepreneurship and to positively impact students, the regional economy, the state of Louisiana and the nation. For more information, visit sei.lsu.edu or call 225-578-0313.
The whole “Super Moon” thing has been driving me a bit nuts. It does not look that much bigger to me. And it’s certainly not a new thing. I’ve been thinking that the only real change is the hype. So I decided to dig out some facts.
The moon at apogee (its farthest point from earth) appears 29.40″ (that’s arc-minutes) in the sky. An arc-minute is 1/60th of a degree of arc, with a full circle being 360 degrees. At perigee, or it’s closest point, it appears 33.48″. This is 13.87% larger.
To make sense of 13.87% larger, consider that, according to the US Mint, the diameter of a nickel is .835 inches and the diameter of a quarter is .955 inches. So, a quarter is 14.37% larger than a nickel.
So the difference between “super-moon” and the smallest apparent moon, or shall we say mini-moon, is just about the same as the difference between a nickel and a quarter. But then, apogee is just as rare or just as common as perigee, so the real comparison should actually be normal-moon to super-moon – which is more like the difference between a dime and a penny.
So if you agree with this analysis, then when the next person tells you they saw the super-moon and it was “awesome!” – you’ll have the data to support your informing them that they are a lunatic. As in “The lunatic is on the grass…”.
If you are wondering what this all has to do with data backup and / or cloud based disaster recovery, so am I. Please just forgive my mini-rant.
This could be a communications game changer.
Imagine being able to access the internet and make cell phone calls where there is no WiFi or cell tower such as in remote search-and-rescue areas or disaster areas where cell towers have been destroyed. Imagine government control over the Internet suddenly irrelevant and government surveillance of cell phone traffic suddenly circumvented. Imagine making calls even if your phone is not in service. It’s a game changer and it’s called wireless mesh networking.
Wireless mesh networking is a new technology that’s just been incorporated into Apple’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework, a feature of their new iOS7 mobile device operating system. The Multipeer Connectivity Framework enables WiFi and Blue Tooth users to communicate with each other, independent of any communications infrastructure, in a daisy chain of unlimited length – and if one user is connected to the Internet, they all are.
With multiple users, FireChat, AirDrop or any similar app can relay messages from user to user just like the Internet relays from node to node. All it takes is multiple users in a given area and you’ve got connectivity for everyone, even In places where WiFi can’t go like hotel basements or caves. In underdeveloped countries, wireless net networks can provide free connectivity for entire villages!
FireChat can be used anonymously. It’s virtually impossible to discover who the users are. It can’t be hacked remotely. It can’t be hacked through the Internet if the Internet is not is use. This means politically repressive regimes will no longer have any way to limit or censor access to the Internet or tap into personal communications.
Apple has opened the door but others are ready to walk through it. The Framework’s developer, Open Garden, already offers wireless multipeer networking for Android and Google is looking at it in conjunction with their Android Wear as a way to create networks of wearable devices. Users will now have the ability to create limited, temporary public or private networks anywhere, anytime, even in the midst of disaster and destruction.
What will you do with your network?
Virtualization: from the Cloud to the Kidneys
We talk a lot about cloud disaster recovery around here. Advancements in technology today pretty much dictate that any disaster recovery solution worth its salt will have a cloud component, and that “cloud” is really just a virtualization of your server or computer environment in a datacenter.
Server sites replicated in the cloud are essential to achieving effective RPO and RTO, and to maintain business continuity. But while replicating your server environment to the cloud is now commonplace for businesses, the virtualization concept is becoming ever more personal. So personal in fact, you may soon be replicating your internal body organs both virtually and IRL to maintain your physical health.
The technology to create a virtual human body exists and is a valuable teaching tool at NYU and other major universities and labs. Called the BioDigital Human, and created by the NYU School of Medicine alongside a company called BioDigital Systems, the BIoDigital Human is a 3D replication of human anatomy, major organs, and biological systems. It’s both interactive and web-based, allowing students and scientists to have a realistic representation of any human being.
The BioDigital Human illustrates the muscular system, the nervous system, digestive and cardiovascular systems, in addition to health conditions such as cancer. The technology allows for zooming in and out, different angle views of every internal body area, and can even layer specific functions or filter others out — much like you can view your own cloud based replicated network.
Your GDV dashboard allows you to see all of your data, any updates or changes to your software, and the real time storage requirements for your entire system or even filtered to specific areas. To implement this view into your own replicated environment, you initially created a duplicate of your own network system by replicating it into the cloud, just like the BioDigital Human program.
While the BioDigital Human is useful today, other mind-blowing technology is actually “bioprinting” 3-D organs. Building on the virtualization concept, university labs and private companies are already using what’s called “regenerative medicine” to build tiny pieces of human organs that are duplicates of their originals, and have even implanted these into human patients. Kind of like when you do failover to your network’s restore points, you’re using the regenerative “organs” that you created in the cloud.
To date, skin, bladders and tracheas have been successful endeavors, albeit a much slower process than your disaster recovery solution. Just as you recreated your network system in the cloud with your existing software, technology today utilizes stem cells taken from a patient’s fat or bone marrow to regenerate new tissue and eventually organs. Imagine the possibilities when a dying patient in need of a new organ is given their exact match perfect organ made from their own cells, essentially creating a virtualized replacement part.
Cutting edge 3D printing would speed up the development process for these human parts and add a higher level of precision, as well as scale the manufacturing process for widespread adaptation. This “printed” organ technology could one day eliminate the stress and uncertainty of organ transplant lists altogether. Bioprinting scientists hope that their advancements in virtualization can one day aid in the effective testing of drugs to treat diseases such as cancer. We think that’s the ultimate disaster recovery solution.
Global Data Vault extends its congratulations to Chris Gummer, CPA. Chris was named a “Rising Star” by the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and will be honored this weekend in Las Vegas during the annual meeting of members. The Rising Star Award recognizes CPA members 40 and under who have proven to be a rising star within the accounting profession and their communities.
Based on all the great service his firm, Gummer Group LLC, has rendered to Global Data Vault, it is clear to us that this high honor is well deserved.