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Air-Gap Technology: What is it?

One of the best ways to be ready for a ransomware attack is to have extensive data backups. An air-gap solution is an intelligent approach to backing up your data.

Air-gap networks typically have zero connection to public networks. They use tape backups for secure and portable offline storage. Secondary backup targets are stored on disk or in the cloud, requiring only momentary access after which communication can be compromised by ransomware.

Air-gapping is like a kind of digital fortification, surrounding your data with walls and a moat over which a drawbridge is occasionally lowered. When the data doesn’t need to be accessed, the system turns communications off in a variety of ways, essentially pulling the drawbridge back up. 

To understand more about how a tape air-gap works, watch this video:

The Ultimate Ransomware Protection.

The keys to surviving a ransomware attack lie in:

Traditional backup and recovery can’t protect you against the spreading threat of ransomware. The ability of hackers to stage attacks on a network — infiltrating it quietly, infecting both backups and operational code — is always evolving. At a critical stage, they can encrypt the infected files and lock your company out of its data until a ransom is paid. Disk or cloud recovery generally fails at this point because those sources have been infected.

Tape is the key to beefing up the second of the three critical factors above, storing your backups offline to make them immune to this kind of attack. 

Backups on tape are what provide the air-gap. Tape can be physically disconnected from the internet and your company’s intranet, and offline tape cartridges can’t be infected by malware. With a properly installed air-gap system, hackers can’t infect all your backups. Infection-free tapes will always be available, making clean reboots possible.

Today, a regular backup routine with offline air-gap protection is fundamental to cybersecurity. Leading organizations are using tape air-gap protection as a proven and effective method of combating ransomware.

Air-Gap Protection

It’s a simple but a powerful concept. Hackers and malware can’t get to your data if it’s isolated offline from the network.

Deploy the 3-2-1 Rule

It’s the “Golden Rule of Backup” to always have three copies of your data: two copies stored on site (on different media types) and one air-gapped copy kept off site and offline.

Reduce Costs

Using tape media for air-gapped data storage cuts down on capital expenditures and saves considerable energy compared to other storage technologies.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (malware) that encrypts files, denying access to a computer system and its files until a ransom is paid.

Infections can proceed along a number of different vectors, but one of the most common delivery methods is the phishing spam: infected attachments that masquerade as files from a trusted source in an email. Infected websites are another possible method.

In either case, the infected files can take over the target’s computer once opened, sometimes using built-in social engineering tricks that deceive users into giving them administrative access. Particularly aggressive variants might exploit security holes without needing to further interact with the user at all.

Some kinds of ransomware are called leakware or doxware and threaten to publicly expose sensitive data on the target’s hard drive unless a ransom is provided. This is far more complicated than simply encrypting the user’s files and demanding payment, however, encryption ransomware is a much more common tactic.

Once the infection is in place and payment demanded, the files can’t be decrypted or accessed without a mathematical key only the attacker has. Sometimes, organizations have no choice but to pay up. In other cases, they might have to go to data recovery specialists, a complicated and nearly equally costly option. There’s rarely a guarantee that all files can be recovered, and overall, ransomware attacks can cause incredible devastation.

This is why having access to a tape-based air-gap solution — with data stored safely offline — is so important. It’s the most advanced possible solution to protect you from this damaging form of cybercrime.

Cost of Ransomware

(Including Ransom Paid & Downtime)

The Frequency of Successful Attacks

  • Chainalysis, a company specializing in tracking cryptocurrencies, reported that victims of ransomware attacks have paid a total of $449.1 million to criminal groups in the first half of 2023. For all of 2022, that number didn't even reach $500 million.
  • Ransomware attacks are more common than ever due to the easy availability of ransomware tools on the dark web. Some of these tools are so simple to use that they can be deployed by an attacker with little to no technical knowledge.

Ransomware in America

  • Compared to the same period last year, global cyber-attacks have increased by 7% in the first quarter of 2023.
  • The top five targets for ransomware attacks are companies in the manufacturing, construction, transportation/logistics, tech/IT and healthcare industries.

Learn More about an Offline Air Gap Solution

There are a number of useful resources online for learning more about how offline air-gap technology works, how it helps to combat ransomware and best practices on how it can be combined with other cybersecurity solutions.

How to Prevent Ransomware

There are a number of frequently asked questions about ransomware and how to prevent it. We cover the most common questions below.

Why Isn’t Anti-Malware Software Enough to Protect Your Data?

Hackers have become more skilled at launching cyberattacks, making ransomware even more of a threat than usual. Three trends have contributed to the rise in ransomware attacks:

  1. It's easy for hackers to access ransomware tools. Some unscrupulous individuals even sell ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) packages, making it easier for cybercriminals to target businesses of all sizes. With so many tools available, the cost of conducting ransomware attacks has also decreased.
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a major shift in work habits. Many employees who used to work full-time in an office environment now work from home. Due to an increase in remote work, employees are sending more emails and spending more of their time communicating via a wide range of chat software and videoconferencing technology. This creates more opportunities for hackers to launch successful ransomware attacks. 

This combination of circumstances and evolving threats has taxed the ability of even the best anti-malware software to keep up — making a tape air gap more vital than ever.

What Is the Best Defense Against Ransomware?

There’s simply no substitute for optimizing your backup strategy by deploying the 3-2-1 rule:

Keep three copies of your data.

Have two copies stored on site on different media types.

Have one copy off site and offline with an air-gapped tape backup.

Other kinds of cybersecurity measures can complement this strategy, but none can replace it. 

What Is an Offline Tape Air Gap?

The role of an air-gap is to maintain an electronically disconnected and physically isolated copy of your data. With your data offline and on tape, cybercriminals can’t attack it from other backups, archives or any other part of your data infrastructure, and you’re reassured of always having a clean copy of your data to restart your systems if need be.

How Can Fujifilm Help Protect Against Ransomware?

Tape is widely considered to be the best solution for creating an air-gap to protect your business-critical data from ransomware and other forms of cyberattack based on its low cost and ease of portability.

Fujifilm’s Object Archive software makes it easy to store data on tape for safekeeping offline and off site, preventing unauthorized access. A new technology for object storage, called OTFormat, allows for efficient writing of objects and metadata to tape media.


Industry Analysts

“Air gapping and tape technology offer a perfect combination to deliver proven and scalable advanced ransomware protection.”

Christophe Bertrand Senior Analyst at ESG

“The growing cybercrime wave has positioned air gapped storage solutions as a key component of digital data protection – they simply can’t be hacked.”

Fred MooreHorison Information Technologies

When analyzing the impact of ransomware on today’s businesses, there are several key takeaways from the most recent developments.

Ransomware attacks are more common than ever.

More than 37% of global organizations reported that they had fallen victim to at least one ransomware attack during the year. Ransomware has steadily risen as a share of cyberattacks generally, reaching approximately 10% of all cyberattacks. Hackers have also started launching "double distortion" attacks, which involve stealing a company's data and storing it off-site before encrypting it. Once the victim pays the ransom, the hacker demands additional payments by threatening to release the unencrypted data.

Some industries have a higher risk of ransomware attacks than others.

NordLocker collected data on ransomware attacks to determine which industries are the most vulnerable. Surprisingly, the construction industry ranked second, well ahead of finance/insurance and business services. The construction industry may be more vulnerable than other industries due to the way it's structured. Small and midsize construction firms may have limited IT resources, increasing the risk of attacks.

Using their most recently collected data, NordLocker determined that manufacturing, transportation/logistics, tech/IT and healthcare are also highly vulnerable to ransomware attacks and other types of data breaches.

Human behavior is one of the most serious risk factors for ransomware attacks.

Even when an organization has strong cybersecurity measures in place, certain behaviors on the part of employees can make it easier for hackers to get around those measures. For example, employees who are tired or distracted may not pay close attention when clicking links, causing them to grant system access to cyber threats and hackers who want to steal a company's data.

Poor communication is also an issue, as companies may not understand the importance of cybersecurity or know how to prevent ransomware attacks with effective storage solutions. Employees may even ignore established cybersecurity procedures due to work-related pressures. For example, when up against a deadline, employees may take shortcuts that make a company's systems more vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

Hackers often target companies that are considered part of the country's critical infrastructure.

Critical infrastructure sectors are vital to the United States. As a result, any cyberattack that cripples one of these sectors can have devastating consequences for national security, public health or the American economy. Due to the importance of these sectors, hackers are constantly launching ransomware attacks against them.

In this environment, it’s clear that it’s a major priority to improve your business’ defense against ransomware, including through the use of air-gap backup technology.

Protect your business against Ransomware with Fujifilm Tape Air-Gap Solution

The rapid proliferation of ransomware — an increasingly cheap and easily-deployed tool in the hands of cybercriminals looking for an easy payday — is a major threat to businesses and organizations of every size.

The best answer is to be prepared with a solid 3-2-1 backup strategy, to make sure you have backups in multiple media and, in particular, to ensure that you have an offline and off-site air-gap tape backup that can reliably restore your systems from an attack.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can provide you peace of mind in a world of multiplying cyberthreats.