With large-scale data breaches heating up the news recently, you may be wondering exactly what your enterprise can do (if anything) to protect yourself from these advanced cyber security threats, which could leave your company crippled and leak your employee and customer data to anyone with an interest in obtaining it.

Unfortunately cloud backup can't always save you—as one of the largest recent hack victims can attest. While this enterprise had its data backed up to the cloud and maintains robust security measures, the disruption to its day-to-day business was considerable (and still ongoing). The company is still trying to determine next steps.

Simple disk-to-disk data mirroring, replication or snapshots also won't address the threat of hackers if their objective is to wipe or corrupt data. In addition, snapshot-based data mirroring technology won't be able to protect a company. When fully committed to the process, hackers can wipe out snapshot stored in the primary storage system. The corrupted primary copy of data can then replicate and corrupt the secondary copy. To fully protect themselves, companies need a way to keep a copy of their data offline and offsite. Tape is the answer.

Why Offsite Tape Storage is the Answer

The recent hacks expose the need for large enterprises to have a backup of their data on physical tapes which cannot be hacked or destroyed when "offline." These tapes, when situated in a secured, physical vault like those held by Iron Mountain, cannot be accessed by hackers. Disk-to-disk or cloud solutions, while great solutions, still have the ability to leave data vulnerable have proven they can't be trusted with 100 percent of a company's information because they offer storage that's located online, and therefore, accessible to hackers.

In the case of a recent breach surrounding a large media company, hackers released software that attempted to destroy company data on purpose and to gain possession of every copy of this data for the purposes of ransom. If this enterprise knew it had an offline and offsite backup solution, it would be in a much better position to make sure that last copy was virtually unobtainable.

Tape is a Necessity

Despite major advancements in tape storage technology, there are still naysayers across the storage industry. These dissenters argue that managing tapes are more cumbersome than managing disk-to-disk or cloud backup. They also state that it's more difficult for their IT pros to obtain access to data on tapes and that it's more unreliable and more expensive than disk or cloud. Tape technologies have evolved significantly and made a great deal of progress in these areas in recent years. Today's truth, according to the Tape Storage Council is that tape reliability levels "exceed that of the most reliable disk drives by one to three orders of magnitude. The BER (Bit Error Rate ‐ bits read per hard error) for enterprise tape is rated at 1x1019 and 1x1017 for LTO tape. This compares to 1x1016 for the most reliable enterprise Fibre Channel disk drive."

It's true that most companies aren't using tape for their primary form of disaster recovery, and perhaps and they shouldn't. Tape does take longer to recover, and most of the time, our customers update their tapes weekly—not daily. Tape is better suited as a secondary, tertiary or archive storage target: your offline, offsite last line of defense. In a recent Quinstreet study of IT pros, tape was the most popular technology for secondary backup with 37 percent of respondents, and it is also the second most popular choice for tertiary backup.

Think of tape as your failsafe. Tape is a necessity for your company—especially if it ends up in hot water with hackers. In the event of such a disaster, even if your data is a week old, it's better that you have physical copies to information that's a bit dated than to be sucked dry by hackers and have nothing at all—particularly when the security surrounding those physical tapes is of the highest-caliber. After all, as one of our experts often comments, "One thing you can't go to the store and buy is your own data." Prudent IT managers will always have tape backups. Iron Mountain recommends that you have two copies of every data set.

And remember, if cost is your concern, tape is highly cost effective, and the cost of tape is small compared to your potential loss of business in the event of a disaster. In addition, tape actually offers the lowest cost per GB for long‐term storage. Magnetic tape archiving can cost as low as $0.003/GB/month or $0.04/GB/year, according to Forbes.

Invest in Iron Mountain Offsite Tape Storage

To ensure your data is kept out of the virtual "hands" of hackers or thieves, you need to make sure it's accessible only offline and offsite. Choosing a partner to securely store your information in a disaster-proof facility is the only ironclad solution.

Have questions about offsite tape storage? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Data Backup and Recovery team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.


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