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City of York picks Barracuda Networks for data protection

York Council needed to refresh its backup service to bring new security protections after it went ‘all-in’ on Microsoft Office 365

City of York Council has enlisted Barracuda Networks’ Cloud-to-Cloud Backup security service to protect its valuable Microsoft Office 365 data after having migrated from a fully on-premise email, office and collaboration setup two years ago.

The council is responsible for delivering services to more than 210,000 people living in the historic city, and the nature of the data it holds on York’s residents makes it a prime target for malicious actors.

It previously had an OEM backup solution that accompanied its on-premise systems that enabled fast restoration and offsite duplication of backups, but infrastructure services technical lead Ian Towner quickly realised more was needed with the move to Office 365.

Among other things, the council now needed to guarantee data privacy and granular data recovery should a serious cyber incident come to pass, such as a serious ransomware attack bringing down its systems.

“A strong, full-featured backup solution is critically important,” says Towner. “It’s the key to protecting our constituents’ data privacy, to maintaining regulatory compliance, and to ensuring the council can maintain service levels and operate efficiently without interruption. My team takes all of that very seriously.”

Towner had a series of key requirements that needed to be met – including support for two-factor authentication, no on-premise controllers, data storage in the UK, and support for all Office 365 data beyond Exchange, including Teams, OneDrive, and SharePoint. He said Barracuda’s service met those requirements, but added that there were other factors that made the decision even easier.

“Barracuda Cloud-to-Cloud Backup makes it very easy to find and restore individual files in a very granular way. And it’s just as simple to restore entire mailboxes – for instance, if an employee leaves and later returns,” he said.

“Another thing I like is the fact that admin functions and access policies are separate from Office 365. So we can have a very small number of people authorised to make changes – it wouldn’t do to have a rogue email admin able to delete records.”

While the headline need for a strong backup security service clearly stems from potential disaster recovery or ransomware scenarios, Towner said the council is now using the service for more prosaic purposes – though given recent events worldwide ransomware does remain a key driver. “Where the solution is really helping us is in restoring files that have been accidentally deleted by users,” he said.

Towner added that he has yet to have any cause to interact with customer service or support from Barracuda itself. “Setup and configuration was very simple and intuitive, and it’s truly a set-it-and-forget-it solution. If we add new mailboxes, they get backed up automatically, no action required. That means we’re saving money and time too – no need to manage or upgrade, no provisioning of new instances. That whole set of tasks is just gone,” he said.

Barracuda’s regional vice-president for Northern Europe, Giovanni Goduti, said: “We are thrilled to be working with the City of York Council which has demonstrated a proactive attempt to ensure that the sensitive data contained on its servers are protected and insured against the increasing threat of ransomware attacks, and the ever-present fears of ‘accidental deletion’ of important files or constituent information.”

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