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Volume 32, Issue 3

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Wednesday, 25 September 2019 19:38

Storming Area 51, Naruto Running, and Ransomware

Scale Computing (https://www.scalecomputing.com/)

Sept 20th was the date for the uber-hyped “Storm Area 51” event in Nevada. The event, while having over two million people signed up on Facebook, turned into a much smaller gathering of people, about 3,000 according to some reports. There was no actual raiding, even though some of the attendees had their Naruto costumes on, and I think that is what most of us were really expecting. The size of the social media following was enough to get the attention of the military, though, so we can all be thankful that it ended with a whimper rather than a bang. 

Still, the idea of so many people gathering to storm the gates of a high-security facility got me thinking about another security concern we are facing: Ransomware. Unlike the esoteric and comical threat of Naruto runners dodging bullets to discover alien secrets, ransomware attacks are a very real threat and are having enough success that ransoms have been paid. That means these attacks are not going to go away any time soon.

Similar to the initial idea behind the Storm Area 51 event, it may only take one attack getting through to successfully compromise the system. Municipalities have been hit hard with over 40 being attacked in the last year. Some, like Lake City, Florida have paid a hefty ransom because they estimated having to reconstruct the systems would cost even more. 

The question might not be if you get hit, but when you get hit, and whether your systems can handle the attack and recover from it quickly. One way to help protect your systems is by choosing a system that is less vulnerable. Big, popular operating systems and virtualization stacks that have been around for decades are likely the most vulnerable because hackers have had plenty of time to study and exploit their weaknesses. These systems also tend to be integrated with many other types of computing and storage systems out there, increasing their surface area for attack.

Hyperconverged systems can reduce the attack surface by eliminating a lot of the complexity that comes from integrating a number of different vendor solutions to achieve virtualization. But even reducing the attack surface only gets you so far, which is why certain hyperconverged systems can go even further to protect every virtual workload with snapshots to quickly recover in case of an attack. Get hit by ransomware, recover to a previous snapshot and carry on.

Now though, you can take ransomware protection to a whole new level with solutions like Acronis Backup offering active protection against ransomware. Acronis Backup can actively detect if your system is being attacked by ransomware and actively “undo” the damage caused by the attack as it is happening.

So first, to visualize how Area 51 Stormers and ransomware attacks probably imagine themselves, a clip of Naruto running, straight from the show, for your enjoyment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=pPeACdLYbDk

And second, a video demo of Acronis Backup actually stopping a WannaCry ransomware attack in real-time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=P4vI7L99q9Y

So, today’s advice: Don’t actually storm high-security military installations because of social media and don’t let your systems be a victim of ransomware. Put solutions to use like Scale Computing HC3 and Acronis Backup that are not only easier and more cost-effective to use, but that protect you better than traditional systems.

The truth is out there.