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Replication won’t protect VMs against ransomware

Seamless replication is among the benefits of virtualisation, but many organisations fail to back up virtual machines properly

Replicating virtual machines (VMs) will not prevent data corruption, and many businesses admit they are unable to get back online quickly after a ransomware attack, according to Iland.

A new report from the secure cloud provider, in association with VM backup specialist Veeam, found that 44% of organisations rely or some form of replication as part of their backup and/or disaster recovery (DR) strategy. However, 24% have experienced data corruption or a ransomware attack, according to a survey of 300 companies.

Three-quarters of those surveyed had experienced issues resulting in systems outages in the past year. Of these, 46% were the result of hardware failure and 41% originated in human error. Malicious attacks accounted for 24% of the total.

When asked about recovery time from a ransomware attack, 23% of organisations surveyed said the average downtime they experienced per incident was under 24 hours, 27% had experienced less than a hour of downtime due to a ransomware attack, and 26% said they had seen less than four hours of downtime arising from such an attack. However, 11% had outages of more than 24 hours because of a ransomware attack.

The survey found that 68% of businesses had needed to fully recover an application or VM due to an outage in the past year, but nearly half of organisations protect less than half of their VMs with a recovery plan and almost a quarter of them back up less than half of their virtual environment each day.

Although a quarter of the organisation taking part in the survey said they had zero tolerance for data loss, only a few said they were able to bring critical systems back online quickly.

Looking at disaster recovery, when asked to estimate how long it would take to bring critical applications back online, just 13% were confident that their systems would be back within a few minutes, more than one-third said they would need a few hours, and a further third admitted it would take a day. One-fifth of them admitted they would need more than 24 hours.

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Amy Hawthorne, vice-president of global marketing at Iland, said: “These figures suggest that many organisations have work to do to meet their own targets for data protection and that size is no indicator of resilience.

“It paints a concerning picture of businesses’ ability to recover in the face of an outage in their virtual environment. Infrequent DR testing, partial VM backup, slow recovery times and a reliance on replication for DR execution means that the processes in place to facilitate backup and recovery don’t match the business continuity targets they are meant to achieve.”

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