Object Storage: How to Overcome Security Threats to Unstructured Data – Spiceworks News and Insights

Organizations face growing security risks from unstructured data. With the appropriate strategies and tools in place, they can prepare to overcome these threats, shares Candida Valois, field CTO for the Americas at Scality, discussing the use of object storage in smarter threat management for unstructured data.

Today, most data is unstructured: information that comes in multiple formats and deviates from traditional data models. Technologies like AI and machine learning (ML) require vast amounts of unstructured data to operate, and that data often comes in the form of videos, images, text and voice. This creates storage and management challenges in a typical relational database. And it’s growing rapidly. In their white paper, Meeting the New Unstructured Storage Requirements for Digitally Transforming Enterprises, analyst firm IDC forecasts that by 2025, 80% of all data will be unstructured.

In addition to its increased volume, unstructured data poses a greater security risk. Even though all industries are potential targets, the financial services and healthcare sectors feel the problem most acutely. To help overcome these issues, scalable and affordable object storage is now available.

Ransomware Loves Your Unstructured Data 

Organizations are gathering a growing amount of data, including massive volumes of users’ personal data. It needs to be stored and safeguarded for a long period, which varies by industry. For example, if your company must be HIPAA compliant, that period is six years. In some circumstances, you must store data throughout the life of your business. And it can’t be in a remote data lake; it’s required to be accessible at any time – and, of course, secure.

Even so, in research from Enterprise Strategy Group, a majority (57%) of IT professional respondents think that between 20% and 50% of the sensitive data that dwells in the public cloud is afflicted with poor security. In addition, 61% claim to have either lost data in the cloud or suspect that’s the case.

As a company collecting sensitive data, you have a responsibility to protect it, especially when security risks increase – as they seem to do non-stop. Cybercriminals set their sights on acquiring the data they know you must keep. That’s why ransomware is a when not an if. A ransomware attack is projected to happen every two seconds by 2031. Additionally, security events are becoming more costly. A data breach now costs an average of $4.25 million, according to the 2021 Ponemon Cost of a Data Breach report.

Searching for Scale

Clearly, enterprises need to understand the gravity of this situation and take action right away. When looking for a storage solution to handle these concerns, scalability is a crucial aspect to consider. You want a system that can address your immediate and long-term requirements, but that also offers affordable data storage for the long haul.

Just as Spotify can’t interface with an 8-track tape, conventional storage techniques aren’t a good fit for the era of the cloud. They lack the necessary scalability, leading to expensive silo management. The public cloud provides scalability and agility, so you don’t need an internal data admin. It’s a good fit for short-term data storage and some applications, but users don’t have much infrastructure control. Performance is not great, security issues come up, and cost-effectiveness goes down over time. Though the cloud seems like a bargain at first, it becomes increasingly costly as the organization grows; this is the infamous “cloud paradox.” 

See More: Why Object Storage Is Key in the Cloud Operating Model

Storing Objects in the Cloud

Modern enterprises want an affordable, secure solution that can scale as business requirements change over the next five to ten years, to eliminate silos and promote rapid innovation. Data must be accessible from both new and old cloud-based and cloud-native applications. Cloud object storage, when done right, can deliver the security, performance and control benefits of the public cloud combined with those of a private cloud architecture on premises. You can have all these benefits and still don’t need an on-site data administrator.

Look for cloud storage protected at multiple levels to prevent data from being accidentally altered, unavailable, corrupted, lost, destroyed, rewritten, or encrypted without your permission – which happens in ransomware attacks.

This type of data center cloud storage provides a unique balance of scalability, security, and speed. It grows as your needs grow. It is manageable, controllable, and immutable. Immutability is considered essential in the struggle against ransomware, but it also defends data against intentional or unintentional modification or deletion.

Immutability is made possible by support for the S3 Object Lock API. This feature makes recovering from ransomware and other catastrophes a breeze, as it ensures the lowest recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). Essentially, S3 Object Lock applies an unalterable retention period on data. During this time, updating, modifying or deleting the object is made impossible. This capability has been used with success in financial services SEC compliance environments. Certifying agencies such as Cohasset Associates have also given S3 Object Lock its blessing.  

Through object versioning, data immutability, and object locking, ransomware protection, and recovery capabilities are now seen as nearly bulletproof, and object storage is a leading data storage solution for mission-critical use cases.  

Tape was once thought to be the best air-gap medium for isolating data that might be sensitive, like data from local networks or production facilities. The situation has changed. The tape has a low cost per terabyte and a long lifespan, but its high operational costs make it unsuitable for modern businesses. Immutable object storage that is S3 compliant is now the standard for cost-efficient, air-gapped security in the cloud. 

Securing Unstructured Data

Given the rapid growth of unstructured data content, object storage has become a common cornerstone of modern enterprise IT environments. Managing unstructured data is an issue most IT departments will have to deal with at some point. You can prepare for this situation in advance with the right strategy and tools. Your business requires solutions that don’t let your data get “lost” and aim to keep it accessible at all times. Though unstructured data can create security issues, especially those brought on by ransomware, object storage can help you optimize your data’s value and composure. Object storage in the cloud is a crucial component to address today’s unstructured data issues.

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