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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.

2020 Cost of Ransomware

(Including Ransom Paid & Downtime)

  • Ransomware attacks cost the economy a total of $20 billion in 2020, up from $11.5 billion in the previous year.
  • The average cost of ransom per incident hit $8,100.
  • The average cost of downtime per ransomware incident reached $283,000.
  • Businesses have lost an average of around $8,500 per hour due to ransomware-induced downtime since 2018.

The Frequency of Successful Attacks

  • It’s estimated that a business will fall prey to ransomware every 14 seconds.
  • In 2021, that average is expected to increase to a successful attack every 11 seconds.
  • The growing prevalence of ransomware is partly attributed to the proliferation of cheap, low-effort ransomware packages on the dark web, which can be deployed with little technical knowledge.
  • Small businesses account for 43% of all ransomware attacks due to their lower capacity for investing in cybersecurity.

Ransomware in America

  • Around 62% of U.S. organizations reported a ransomware attack last year.
  • The most popular targets of ransomware attacks are:
    • Small to medium businesses
    • City & local government agencies
    • Educational institutions
    • Financial institutions
    • Health care companies and institutions
    • Utilities and infrastructure organizations

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?

Since 2016, hackers have become more skilled and sophisticated at launching cyberattacks, and ransomware has become a more prevalent threat. Two developments have come together to supercharge this threat in recent years:

  • The first is the dark web, where easier-to-use and cheaper ransomware packages are being shared among cybercriminals.
  • The second is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has moved more businesses and offices online than ever before and provided unheard-of opportunities to exploit security weaknesses and capitalize on people’s health fears. 

This combination of circumstances and evolving threats has taxed the ability of even the best anti-malware software to keep up. 

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 developments of 2020.

Cybercriminals are more active than ever.

The percentage of organizations worldwide to have experienced a cybersecurity attack or event of some kind in 2020 jumped to 80.7%. More than a third of organizations experienced three or more such events during the year, and expectation of a successful attack in the next 12 months reached record highs.

Ransomware attacks and payments are rising.

Unfortunately, ransomware is a profitable racket. The fact that 58% of ransomware victims in 2019 wound up paying the ransom likely produced a dramatic spike in ransomware activities in 2020, with 62% of organizations reporting ransomware attacks.

Cybersecurity is improving, but people remain the biggest security vulnerability.

IT security technologies are steadily improving, and the number of companies that deploy them is growing. Still, many companies suffer from a lack of skilled IT security staff and poor security awareness in their workforces.

Ransomware increasingly targets crucial infrastructure and industries.

Especially concerning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the health care sector has become an increasing target of ransomware and other cybercrime activities. The hackers involved are likely aware of how critical the time pressure is on hospitals to get their systems back and count on a correspondingly higher payout from the ransom.

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 in 2021 and likely far beyond. 

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.

Fujifilm is the industry leader in tape backup and air-gap solutions, through products like LTO and Enterprise tape media and Object Archive software.. Contact us today to find out more about how we can provide you peace of mind in a world of multiplying cyberthreats.