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Cyber data recovery and traditional disaster recovery

Cyber data recovery vs. traditional disaster recovery

Embarking on a journey to decipher the nuances between disaster recovery and cyber recovery, this article unveils the intricacies behind their causes, impacts, and preparatory measures. Beyond serving as mere repositories for data storage, performance, and scalability, modern data infrastructures now demand resilience. Whether facing the onslaught of a cyberattack, a natural disaster, or unforeseen events, the imperative lies in possessing the right technology and response plans to curtail data loss and downtime. This exploration dissects general disaster recovery and the more specialized domain of cyber recovery, offering insights into their distinctive characteristics.

Distinguishing cyber recovery and disaster recovery

The intricate web of causation, purpose, and intent lies at the core of the disparity between cyber and disaster recovery. Cyber attacks, akin to disasters yet distinguished by meticulous planning and purposeful execution, demand a proactive stance supported by technological prowess and a nuanced understanding of attack methodologies to potentially avert or detect these orchestrated events. In stark contrast, natural disasters unfold with an unpredictable spontaneity, eluding complete anticipation or prevention.

This dichotomy in intent extends to the unfolding of events and their repercussions on businesses. It necessitates tailored strategies and technologies for investigation, response, and recovery to ensure efficacy and precision. Consider, for example, a targeted ransomware assault on a specific third-party payment portal within an e-commerce site – a scenario that may not warrant a sweeping system-wide recovery initiative encompassing the entirety of the application and all associated databases.

What types of data require recovery?

The recovery process revolves around recreating sensitive or operationally critical data. Whether grappling with the retrieval of compromised information held hostage in a ransomware onslaught or the restoration of inadvertently deleted databases, any data loss exposing an organization to compliance penalties or downtime demands a comprehensive recovery endeavor.

Within the domain of a cyber onslaught, the mosaic of retrievable data encompasses:
  • Exclusive data such as proprietary information, intellectual property (IP), trade secrets, financial records, and beyond Critical and confidential information integral to a company’s unique identity and competitive edge.
  • System backups, particularly when subjected to targeting or encryption during the attack: Crucial backups are vital to restoring system integrity and functionality.
  • Personal Identifiable Information (PII): Sensitive personal data requiring safeguarding and privacy measures.
In a divergent scenario, following the aftermath of a natural catastrophe, the restorable data unfolds as follows:
  • System-specific or system configuration data: Configuration details crucial for rebuilding and re-establishing system architecture.
  • Vital application data essential for the prompt reinstatement of critical daily operations following a physical data center disruption: Essential data empowering the swift resumption of core business processes after a physical data center outage.
  • Business-related data: Operational records and transactions essential for business continuity.

Proactively mitigating cyber threats and disaster risks

The culmination of these distinctions underscores a crucial aspect: the proactive approach to averting cyberattacks and disasters before they strike. While it is challenging to prevent natural disasters entirely, especially those beyond human control, the resilience of data stored with public cloud providers is susceptible to their inherent vulnerabilities and adherence to service-level agreements (SLAs). Nonetheless, several preemptive measures can be adopted to curb specific disasters and thwart the escalation of their impact:

  • Log analytics – monitoring network activity, critical systems, and equipment performance to predict mean time to failure (MTTF), degradation, or potential issues before they escalate.
  • Encryption – rendering compromised data or backups unusable to hackers by employing robust encryption measures.
  • Data deletion policies ensure that unnecessary data is promptly removed from systems, minimizing the risk of retaining redundant information.
  • Access controls – implementing a zero-trust model, multi-factor authentication, and advanced permissions to restrict access to critical systems and data exclusively to authorized personnel.
  • Anomaly detection – leveraging AI and intrusion detection systems (e.g., SIEM and SOAR) to identify abnormal or suspicious behavior well in advance.
  • Network segmentation employs techniques like air gaps to isolate systems, preventing a potential “domino effect” if one system is compromised or experiences a failure.
  • What constitutes disaster recovery?

    Disaster recovery is vital to restoring operational functionality after a catastrophic event. Essentially synonymous with business continuity, its core focus lies in the swift recovery and restoration of mission-critical data and IT infrastructure. The ultimate objective is to resume operations with minimal disruptions, mitigating potential revenue loss and preventing reputational damage.

    Examples of natural disasters for data centers

    Natural disasters impacting data centers encompass events that physically destroy the facility and its contents or disrupt the essential power supply for sustaining operations. These may include environmental events such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes, power grid failures, equipment failures (including rack failures), and cooling unit failures.

    Existence of man-made disasters

    Artificial or human-caused disasters can also threaten data centers and their power supply. These include physical accidents within the data center, such as industrial accidents like fires or electrical wiring issues, vehicular collisions, and technical disasters resulting from human error, such as accidental deletions or corrupted code (malware or ransomware falls within this category).

    Recovery duration after a disaster

    The time required to recover from a disaster depends on various factors, including the event’s prompt resolution (e.g., power restoration), a backup environment for recovery and resumption of operations, and the Mean Time to Discovery (MTTD). Recovery times are commonly measured by recovery time objectives (RTOs), setting the maximum allowable downtime for a system. Depending on the affected systems, these can adapt based on the disaster’s scope and scale.

    What constitutes cyber recovery?

    Cyber recovery involves identifying, isolating, and recovering from malicious cyberattacks, such as ransomware or data breaches. While sharing commonalities with disaster recovery, cyber recovery is a specialized area with additional, advanced measures to monitor and prevent attacks proactively.

    In contrast to disaster recovery, cyber recovery often requires additional steps, including forensic analysis, public relations and communication with customers and law enforcement, and regulatory actions like isolating and quarantining affected infrastructure.

    Cyber attack examples on data centers

    Data centers are vulnerable to various cyber threats, compromising their integrity and security. Some examples of these cyber attacks include:
  • Ransomware attacks: Malicious software encrypts data within the data center, and an organization is then extorted for a ransom in exchange for restoring access to the encrypted data.
  • Cyber espionage: Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are employed in cyber espionage, involving multi-pronged attacks that enable long-term surveillance and data theft within a data center.
  • Third-party vendor or supply chain attacks: Cybercriminals may target vendors or partners associated with a data center to gain unauthorized access for subsequent attacks.
  • Social engineering: Cybercriminals may employ social engineering tactics to manipulate individuals into divulging sensitive information or gaining physical access to a data center.
  • Hacking: This involves unauthorized access to a data center’s systems, often leading to a data breach where sensitive information or Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is leaked.
  • Inside Security Threats: Attacks originating from within the organization, such as a rogue administrator or the creation of backdoors, pose significant risks to data center security.
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks: These attacks overwhelm a data center by flooding it with illegitimate requests and traffic, rendering it incapable of processing legitimate user requests.
  • What are the three primary categories of cybersecurity?

  • Network security focuses on safeguarding networks from unauthorized access through segmentation, VPNs, encryption, firewalls, authentication, and intrusion detection systems.
  • Application security is dedicated to ensuring the security of application code through penetration testing, code updates, vulnerability testing, and adherence to application development best practices.
  • Information security encompasses the comprehensive protection of data throughout its lifecycle, emphasizing confidentiality and implementing measures such as immutable backups, retention and deletion policies, encryption, and other data protection best practices.
  • What is the recovery time for a cyberattack?

    The recovery timeline following a cyberattack is variable, from a few hours – achievable when an organization possesses immutable snapshots and an unblemished recovery environment – to potentially extending over several months. Regrettably, some entities may find full recovery unattainable, be faced with irrecoverable data, or face prohibitive costs incurred during the attack.

    The duration of the recovery process hinges on multiple factors. Firstly, the Mean Time to Discovery (MTTD) is crucial in determining how swiftly the attack is detected and isolated. Additionally, the impact on business operations is a pivotal consideration, assessing the extent to which the attack disrupts or impedes normal business functions. The efficiency of restore times, influenced by the underlying storage systems and backup capabilities, further contributes to the overall recovery period.

    Moreover, the availability of data post-attack assumes significance, emphasizing the need for prompt restoration from immutable backups. Lastly, the speed at which uncontaminated storage arrays can be procured for restoration becomes critical, acknowledging that infected arrays might be quarantined and off-limits for forensic investigation.

    Immediate actions following a cyberattack

    Upon the initiation of a cyberattack, it is crucial to take immediate and decisive steps. Three essential actions to be undertaken promptly are:

    1. Contain the attack and secure the environment: Swiftly contain the ongoing attack and initiate measures to lock down the affected environment. This procedure involves isolating compromised systems, limiting the attack’s spread, and fortifying the security posture to prevent further infiltration.
    2. Activate external communications and response plans: Initiate your external communications and response plans promptly. If such plans still need to be established, collaborate with your Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to develop a comprehensive guide. Effective communication is paramount in managing the aftermath of a cyberattack and mitigating potential damage.
    3. Commence recovery to a clean, staged environment:
    • Launch the recovery process by moving towards a clean and staged environment.
    • Prioritize the restoration of essential systems to regain operational status swiftly.
    • Determine which components should be recovered first, focusing on critical functionalities to minimize downtime and expedite recovery.

    💡Regardless of the size of the company, reliable protection and smooth operation of data and applications are very important aspects. Hystax Acura Disaster Recovery and Backup is a software product that instantly and reliably restores access to data without interrupting business processes in the case of any disaster or failure.

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