Data Protection. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

Cloud Data Is Under Ransomware Attack

How CISOs and security teams prepare to thwart cybercriminals

Amy Fair

Dallas, Texas — Oct. 5, 2020

Today’s most valuable business asset is its data, and we’re generating a lot of it.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the world will store 100 zettabytes of data in the cloud by 2025 — or a whopping 50 percent of the world’s data at that time. To put that into perspective, one zettabyte is one sextillion bytes. Written out, that’s:

1 ZB = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes

That’s a lot of bytes.

And right now, 5 billion people access and store data on their digital devices and the cloud, with that number set to skyrocket to 90 percent of the human population, aged 6 or older, by 2029.

Suffice it to say, the world’s next data explosion is right around the corner and perhaps unsurprisingly, needs to be backed up and protected from loss and cyber threats.

With the growth of data comes the growth of innovation — and cybercrime

An opportunity that arises from data growth is the power of innovation, offering more insights to drive advancements in all industries, from technology to healthcare, education to entertainment.

Unfortunately, on the flip side, the challenge with more data continues to be how to successfully protect it. With Cybercrime Magazine estimating a ransomware attack to occur every 11 seconds by 2021, ensuring you have integrated data and ransomware protection as part of your cybersecurity strategy is now more critical than ever. Just ask organizations who have recently experienced ransomware attacks.

How To Neutralize Ransomware

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Fairfax County Public Schools: Remote learning creates vulnerabilities for ransomware attacks

With the push to mitigate effects of the current global pandemic, school administrators and staff worked feverishly over the summer to accommodate distance learning through digital platforms.

Despite best efforts to ensure security across IT systems in education, ransomware attacks targeting schools jumped in September to almost twice the number in August, according to a Fox News story.

As such, news of attacks continues to make headlines. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) recently reported a suspected Maze ransomware attack on their technology systems that resulted in system downtime for students and staff across the district, which is the tenth largest in the United States with 188,000 students and 25,000 full-time employees in 198 schools.

While the school district didn’t publicly identify Maze as the ransomware strain, it did report that the ransomware operators are known for other attacks across organizations ranging from other educational institutions to government agencies to large business enterprise organizations.

According to Bleeping Computer, the cybercriminals have leaked 2 percent of the stolen data, which includes student data and administrative documents. The school district’s statement on the attack reports that law enforcement is currently investigating the issue and reiterates FCPS’s commitment to protecting student and staff personal information.

Warner Music Group: Entertainment e-commerce sites breached

For four months, an unauthorized third party accessed e-commerce sites managed by Warner Music Group (WMG).

The entertainment organization contacted affected individuals in a letter notifying them of the breach. Once items were put in an online shopping cart on sites managed by WMG, the cybercriminals potentially acquired personal information including names, email addresses, billing and shipping addresses, and credit card details.

While WMG didn’t specifically identify its attackers, it was reported that the attack showed signs of “a textbook Magecart attack” in which cyber gangs infect the checkout pages of e-commerce sites with malicious JavaScript-based scripts to access payment and personal information stored online.

WMG is working with cybersecurity experts and law enforcement to investigate the breach. While no data appears to have been posted publicly yet, the possibility remains and WMG recommends potentially affected customers take actions to further protect their data, including monitoring accounts for possible fraudulent activity.

Thwart ransomware attacks with a complete data and ransomware protection strategy

As data grows exponentially, security teams are working harder than ever to protect business-critical data from cyberattacks. Innovation in the data protection space must keep up with the evolution of ransomware.

What’s an IT specialist or CISO to do?

Preparedness means you have the right people, processes, and technologies in place to adequately address the ransomware threat. Discussions between the editors at Cybersecurity Ventures and Fortune 500 CISOs uncovered five top data protection considerations for organizations of all sizes:

  1. Encryption – critical data that risks financial or reputational harm if exposed should be encrypted.
  2. Backup and recovery – ensure your critical data, systems and applications can be restored to pre-breach state.
  3. Consumer transparency – adhere to regulatory compliance standards and commit to managing and storing consumer data with the highest quality of security standards.
  4. Cyberinsurance – research and procure a cyberinsurance policy to supplement cyber and data protection.
  5. Hire experts – employ subject matter experts in all areas of data security to maintain security standards across all areas of the business, including legal, technical, and operational.

Cybercriminals are evolving their tactics to take advantage of vulnerabilities, including accessing and encrypting backup data. To mitigate the risk of attacks and subsequent financial and reputation damage, Arcserve recommends employing an integrated cyber and data protection solution that protects backup data and detects and neutralizes both known and unknown malware.

By incorporating these considerations and recommendations into a complete data and ransomware protection strategy, organizations will be properly positioned to protect the next data explosion from more sophisticated cyberattacks.

Learn more in the 2020 Data Attack Surface Report.

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Amy Fair is a content marketing architect for Arcserve where she writes extensively on ransomware, the impacts of cyberattacks, and strategies to mitigate and neutralize attacks. With 15 years of experience in the public and private sector, Amy is passionate about promoting the importance of data protection and cybersecurity.

About Arcserve

Arcserve provides exceptional solutions to protect the priceless digital assets of organizations in need of full scale, comprehensive data protection. Established in 1983, Arcserve is the world’s most experienced provider of business continuity solutions that safeguard multi-generational IT infrastructures with applications and systems in any location, on premises and in the cloud.

Organizations in over 150 countries around the world rely on Arcserve’s highly efficient, integrated technologies and expertise to eliminate the risk of data loss and extended downtime while reducing the cost and complexity of backing up and restoring data by up to 50 percent.

Arcserve is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn. with locations around the world. Explore more at and follow @Arcserve on Twitter.