Why Tape? Specifically, Why Quantum Tape DOES work for Ransomware Protection

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Many tape vendors have been promoting the use of tape for ransomware protection. And while tape is inherently secure, Quantum tape storage systems include a number of features and capabilities that provide extra layers of security that other tape storage providers do not offer. These unique features make Quantum tape an excellent choice as part of protecting against the threat of ransomware and other forms of cyber threat. 

First – A Bit About Quantum

Quantum technology, software, and services provide the solutions that today’s organizations need to make video and other unstructured data smarter – so their data works for them and not the other way around. With this mission in mind, Quantum offers software and storage systems that run on flash or solid-state media, hard drives, and we are also one of the leading providers of tape storage systems.

Tape storage is used by some of the world’s largest cloud providers because of its low cost, its low power and cooling requirements, and its security. It is notable that the largest data companies in the world chose tape (instead of HDD storage) for their cold storage archives because of these attributes.

Three Reasons Why Quantum Tape Does Work for Ransomware Protection

  1. Quantum Tape offers a stronger “Air Gapped” solution than any other tape system, or any disk storage system.

A tape storage system, like a flash or disk storage system, is a device that is connected to the network, and therefore there is some risk it could be attacked. One option that tape storage offers to prevent over-writing of any data is LTO WORM (Write Once Read Many) media, which prevents data stored on a WORM tape from being over-written. So even if the robot was compromised, the data would be safe. 

That aside, without the use of WORM media, there is some risk that a tape system could be compromised, as it is a network connected device. This is why Quantum tape uses an industry-unique feature called Active Vault that provides a stronger air gap and an additional layer of security not offered by any other tape vendor. 

Active Vault allows an administrator* (*see note below regarding role-based and multi-factor authentication for Quantum tape systems) of the tape system to create an offline partition within the library. This partition does not have any network connectivity whatsoever. Tapes can be moved into this separate partition remotely, and tapes can only be re-imported to an online partition by the tape library administrator.

In short, this provides an ‘air gapped’ solution that is much stronger than any that can be offered by any other tape vendor, or by any disk storage system. With the rise in ransomware, sales of this Active Vault feature have increased nearly 4x year-over-year, because customers can see the real value in the additional security it provides relative to other alternatives. Check out this technical brief on Active Vault to learn more. 

2. Tape Should Always be Used as Part of a 3-2-1-1 Data Protection Strategy, not Exclusively

Many articles take the position that a customer has to choose an “all disk” or “all tape” approach to protection because they are written by companies that only offer one technology. Quantum offers tape for backup, we offer disk for backup, and we offer file storage software, object storage software, and deduplication software to make backup and recovery more efficient.

We, like others in the industry, advocate a “3-2-1-1” data protection best practice. Keep 3 copies of data, keep those copies on 2 types of storage (for example disk and tape), keep 1 copy offsite for DR purposes, and keep 1 copy offline. When using tape as part of a strategy to protect against ransomware, there are a lot of best practices to consider. Several recent articles rightly point out that if corrupted data is backed up to a tape system, then restoring data from tape doesn’t help. In addition, when you need instant recovery of data – don’t use tape. 

There are a lot of best practices to consider when using tape as part of a ransomware protection strategy. For example, it may mean that enterprises may adjust their backup schemes to make backup copies to tape more frequently, to minimize risk of data loss and downtime. We captured these best practices in a white paper we published recently – you can read it here.

3. Quantum Tape Offers Security Features and Capabilities not available anywhere else

Recent articles portray all tape vendors as equal in terms of security features. Quantum Scalar Tape systems are the most secure in the industry, with exclusive features such as Active Vault and Multi-Factor Authentication. These features combine to make Quantum tape the most secure tape solution on the market today.

What’s Next

One thing that we have not fully addressed is the risk of a tape storage system being hacked. Even with all of the additional layers of security above (the strongest ones such as Active Vault are unique to Quantum) – there is still risk. This is why Quantum has developed yet another industry unique feature that we will be announcing next quarter. This feature guarantees that data stored on tapes cannot be accessed, even if the robot is hacked.  Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo with the team here.

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