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Understanding Air-Gapped Backups and Data Recovery Solutions

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Slik Protect
Slik Protect

Understanding Air-Gapped Backups and Data Recovery Solutions

Within the field of [backup and disaster recovery, air-gapped backup is quickly becoming one of the most often used strategiesegrated feature or are in the process of incorporating it into their products.

A backup copy stored on a storage space not exposed from an external network or the internet is referred to as an air gap backup copy. Air gapping is often given a significant part to play in the 3-2-1 backup strategy, which is universally acknowledged as a standard for best practices in the industry. There are three copies of data in this technique, each on a different form of medium, with one copy off-site.

Traditional backup solutions are no longer secure against ransomware threats, which have become more advanced. To secure your backup servers against ransomware attacks, you must have data security procedures in place that can protect both your production and backup environments. Air-gapped backups solve this problem.

It's critical for organizations to know the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy for data air-gapping now that the classic definition of an air gap has been broadened by several storage medium and consumption model applications.

What is an Air-Gapped Backup?

Air-gapping is a cutting-edge data security technology that isolates and detaches target storage volumes from insecure networks, production environments, and host systems. Backups that are saved in air-gapped volumes are referred to as air gap backups.

The default setting for air-gapped volumes is for them to be switched off, which means that applications, databases, users, and workloads operating in the production environment cannot access them. The data stored in a device or storage media with an air gap can only be accessed once switched on.

Depending on the system and vendor, there are several ways to switch on and off air-gap volumes. Air-gap volumes can also be deployed on-premises or in the cloud, depending on the provider.

Different types of Air-Gap Backup

Physical Air-Gap Backups

Disk storage is the most common method for creating an air gap between backups and the rest of the network. The backup data is duplicated onto an external disk drive before being physically removed and maintained in a storage library normally hosted off-site. Air-gap backups are therefore physically isolated from external networks and storage devices.

A physical air gap has been created in recent years by introducing off-site object storage and disconnected file systems that solve some of the pitfalls of disk storage, such as long recovery times. When data is ingested, these systems require a link to the network; hence, extra protections have been incorporated into these systems to make it easier to maintain isolation.

Logical Air-Gap Backups

The usage of non-removable storage media has ushered in the idea of a logical air gap. Using network and user access policies, logical air gaps isolate the production and main backup environments from one another.

The backup copy can be isolated by admins removing access from production-accessible UIs or host or administrative networks, for example. Secure networking ports and firewalls only allow data to be moved when opened and closed in response to a transfer request. A physical connection to the authorized air gap system is required for some systems, and the interface must be unplugged when not in use.

One way some cloud service providers establish an air gap is by keeping backup copies in a separate storage account that requires a different set of login credentials or in another locale. In addition, certain enterprise decentralized storage systems, including Slik, have built-in air gap features.

Cloud-based Air-Gap Backups

Air gaps are a common data security measure used by cloud storage providers and hosts. Digital security methods make them roughly fall into the logical air-gap category. Air gaps are created in cloud storage systems by implementing additional access restrictions (such as additional log-in passwords, PINs and cryptography, etc.) or simply by using a decentralized storage solution to distribute backups into different locations that are hard for attackers to access.

What are the major benefits of Air-gapped Backups?

Ransomware Defence: Protection against ransomware involves safeguarding essential backup data and snapshots if a cyber-attack occurs. Using air-gapped backups allows you to recover data and restore systems even if both the production setup and backup servers are compromised by malicious encryption.

Regulatory Compliance: Air-gapping streamlines the compliance journey and aids compliance with industry requirements such as HIPAA/HITRUST, FedRAMP, CJIS, and more for enterprises that collect, handle, and keep sensitive information such as PII, medical data, legal and financial information, etc.

Cyber Insurance Prerequisite: Cyber insurance protects against financial losses and legal liabilities incurred due to a cyber-related incident, such as hacking, a data breach, ransomware, or other potential threats. Organizations that want to fulfill cyber insurance requirements must implement backup and disaster recovery measures. Organizations will easily be able to fulfill the requirements for cyber insurance if they utilize air-gapped backups, and they may also be able to reduce their yearly charges.

Tips for implementing Air-gapped Backups

Like any other tool, Air-gapping success depends on how you implement it. Here are a few suggested practices for maximizing the utility of air-gapped backups:

Immutable backups

Use storage that cannot be modified by putting your backups in Write-Once, Read-Many (WORM) volumes that only provide read access. Ransomware cannot encrypt backup data saved in these volumes since it can't be changed, altered, or removed from these storage locations. Slik provides decentralized immutable data backups that are safe from ransomware attacks and unauthorized third-party access.

Delta Snapshots

Create delta-based snapshots in the case of a ransomware attack, human errors, hardware failure, etc.; you may restore your important physical/virtual or cloud servers to a prior system state by scheduling frequent snapshots. Delta-based snapshots are quicker since they only perform snapshots for changes you have made to a file, storage, or server.

Complete Encryption

Be careful to choose a gateway that offers encryption during transit in addition to encryption at rest if you are utilizing cloud air-gapping or connected via the internet. The use of encryption will assist in preventing data breaches from occurring to your personal information.

Hybrid air-gapping

Rather than setting up an on-premises or cloud-only air-gapped backup, utilize both hot-tier on-premises storage and capacity tiers in the cloud to achieve increased levels of both efficiency and resilience. Controlling your Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives is easier with hybrid air-gap backups.

Automate the air-gapping

You can ensure that there is a lower possibility of human mistake, the administration is made easier, and data security is more dependable if you automate the networking and maintenance for your air-gapped archives, regardless of whether they are located on-premises or in the cloud.

Create a backup strategy

Using the 3-2-1 backup plan , 3-2-1-1-0, and 4-3-2 backups, you can fully use air-gapping and safeguard your key digital assets from cyber-threat. Additionally, having a clear backup strategy also helps in disaster recovery of data and accidental deletions.

Although air-gapped backups have been available for some time, the current rise in the number of cyberattacks has made it more critical than ever before to implement such solutions.

Insecure networking may damage the data of individuals, businesses, organizations, and governments. Air-gapped networks protect data in most of these organizations. Even if there is no such thing as a totally secure system or method; however, if they are implemented properly, air-gapped backups can be a robust strategy that offers a substantial amount of data protection.