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Empowering Veeam Resellers: A Guide to Ransomware

As of August 2023, the ransomware threat landscape has rapidly evolved, with an increased frequency and industry-spanning impact that proven devastating to critical infrastructure. Attackers have enhanced extortion tactics and professionalized attack groups, drastically increasing the percentage of affected organizations. This year alone, 86% of organizations reported having suffered a cyberattack — a jump up from the 76% reported the year prior.

Now, more than ever, Veeam reseller partners play a critical role in helping their customers combat ransomware. Luckily, there are many resources available for resellers to their help customers mitigate risk. By following this comprehensive listicle, Veeam resellers can equip themselves with the knowledge and tools to effectively guide their customers through the challenges of ransomware threats and ensure their data’s security and recovery.

1.     Navigating Ransomware

Ensure your customers understand what ransomware is and the depth of its potential impact on their organizations. Simply put, ransomware encrypts a targeted user’s files, applications and databases. It demands a ransom for the user to regain access to these files or to prevent sensitive information from being shared publicly or sold to the highest bidder. As the ransomware landscape is continuously evolving, it’s important that resellers and their customers to stay informed on popular methods of attack and update defenses accordingly. For an in-depth look at ransomware, I’ve provided to two educational blogs regarding the many types of ransomware and their most likely targets and common ransomware attack vectors.

Resellers can support their customers with risk assessment and prevention measures. This includes implementing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, ubiquitous immutability, encrypting/verifying backups, security best practices, proactive monitoring, and much more. Remember, preparation and planning lead to successful recovery — ensuring your customers are following best practices is vital to maintaining a strong security posture. The following article covers everything a user needs to know about ransomware defense.

Ransomware protection is key. Effective ransomware protection strategies encompass a multi-faceted approach, including robust cybersecurity measures, employee training (such as recognizing phishing attempts), regular data backups stored securely offline, and the employment of advanced threat-detection technologies. Such comprehensive protection not only safeguards valuable data, but also ensures operational continuity, financial stability, and the preservation of an organization’s reputation. Here is a link to Veeam’s Ransomware Prevention Kit, which will help your customers learn actionable tactics for their IT departments and prepare for ransomware not as a mythical threat, but as a controlled risk.

2.     Creating an Incident Response Plan

Developing a comprehensive incident response strategy is essential to mitigating the impact of a ransomware attack on a customer’s business. Critical aspects of your ransomware recovery plan should include hardening systems, rigorous prevention measures, ransomware detection and response, recovery and restoration measures, and plans to inform relevant authorities and affected parties.

In the event of a ransomware incident, your customers should define roles and responsibilities within their organization during a ransomware incident to act swiftly and effectively against it. A well-structured approach for your customers may include:

  • An incident response team responsible for coordinating actions.
  • Technical experts responsible for handling malware analysis and system restoration.
  • Legal and compliance representatives to navigate legal and regulatory complexities.
  • Communication roles responsible for managing internal and external notifications.
  • Regular drills and training to ensure team familiarity and facilitate a coordinated response.

It is best for your customers to have these roles mapped out and predefined before a ransomware strike. Remember, the surest defense against ransomware includes taking proactive measures before an organization is hit. For a further resource on the topic, check out this guide to a six-step ransomware response plan.

3.     Utilizing Veeam Solutions for Recovery

Veeam Data Platform continues Veeam’s legacy of exceptional ease in maintaining and restoring backups. Users can initiate a full system restore, individual file retrieval, or even application-specific item recovery with an advanced search functionality that enables users to pinpoint specific files or items for restoration. By making data recovery is a streamlined and stress-free process, not only are resellers ensuring that their customers are safeguarded against ransomware, but they are increasing operational efficiency and reducing the burden of day-to-day administration. This creates a defensive bastion against ransomware that is capable of realizing the full potential of your customer’s data protection efforts.

Ensuring that your customers are leveraging immutable backups for added protection against ransomware is also vital. Doing so prevents unauthorized modifications or deletions of backup data during predefined retention periods. When used in combination with traditional backup methods, immutable backups offer heightened ransomware resiliency through a host of benefits, including data integrity and security, reliable disaster recovery, and the preservation of historical data.

4.     Post-Incident Recovery and Analysis

As devastating as they can be, ransomware attacks provide keen insights into an organization’s defenses, providing an excellent opportunity for learning and improvement. A thorough investigation into a ransomware attack allows organizations to dissect the attack’s tactics, techniques and entry points — thus allowing them to better understand their vulnerabilities, enhance their security posture, and develop more effective strategies to prevent future breaches.

Whether your customers are using replicated VMs from backups, recovering from storage snapshots, recovering from fast-performing repositories, or utilizing failover capabilities, your customers have the chance to learn from the experience and prevent future attacks.

To see how other organizations have safeguarded against ransomware, here’s a catalogue of customer success stories.

5.     Proactive Client Engagement

Resellers should educate their customers on various ransomware risks and prevention strategies. By raising awareness about the evolving nature of cyber threats and the devastating impact of ransomware attacks, resellers can empower their customers to take proactive measures. Through an informed education, customers can learn to:

  • Identify suspicious emails, practice safe browsing habits, and keep strong password practices.
  • Understand the significance of regular software updates.
  • Seek out and implement a specifically tailored backup and recovery strategy.

Further, your customers may not be in the habit of conducting vulnerability assessments. Identifying potential weak points in a customer’s security posture is an important step in preventing potential breaches or ransomware attacks. Habitual vulnerability assessments may seem tedious to your customers, but it’s imperative that resellers emphasize the long-term benefits of maintaining a vigilant security structure — and the potential damages to their customer’s organization, should they choose otherwise.

6.     Customizing Veeam Solutions for Resilience

Customizing Veeam solutions to match specific backup and replication needs involves utilizing the platform’s versatile features to create a tailored approach. To begin, customers can:

  • Define custom backup jobs with unique schedules, selecting the frequency and timing that align with their data’s criticality.
  • Fine-tune retention policies to determine how long backup copies are kept, accommodating compliance and archival needs.
  • Exclude non-essential data from backups with Veeam’s advanced settings, optimizing efficiency for more granular control.
  • Implement custom pre- and post-job routines for specific actions through Veeam’s built-in scripting capabilities.
  • Configure replication jobs with specific RPOs for different VMs to adapt replication strategies.  
  • Enable tailored replication to off-site locations without impacting network resources with Veeam’s WAN acceleration and traffic throttling.
  • Integrate Veeam’s SureBackup feature, which automates testing of backups to ensure their recoverability.
  • Replicate data to various destinations — whether on premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid environments — to best align with their disaster recovery preferences.

Veeam’s flexible configuration options enable customers to adjust backup and replication strategies to their precise requirements, which provides customers with a robust and efficient data protection approach and allows them to construct multi-layered defense mechanisms.

7.     Continuous Monitoring and Optimization

Regularly testing backup and recovery processes ensures that your customer’s backup infrastructure remains reliable and capable of swift data restoration. This practice identifies any vulnerabilities or gaps in their backup infrastructure, allowing for timely adjustments before a ransomware crisis occurs. By simulating recovery scenarios, organizations can validate the recoverability of their data, applications, and systems, minimizing downtime and ensuring business continuity.

Staying updated with the latest features and enhancements offered by Veeam is equally essential. In doing so, organizations can leverage new tools and functionalities designed to enhance data protection, improve performance, and respond effectively to emerging risks. Veeam often introduces innovations that streamline processes, optimize resource utilization, and bolster security measures — all of which contribute to a more resilient backup and recovery environment.

Continuous monitoring and optimization. Regularly testing guarantees preparedness for unforeseen events, while staying up to date with Veeam’s latest offerings ensures that organizations are equipped to tackle evolving challenges, safeguarding their data and maintaining operational stability.

8.     Training and Workshops for Customers

Offering educational resources and workshops goes beyond simply installing security software for your customers — it equips them with the knowledge and skills needed to be proactive in their defense against ransomware attacks. By enhancing awareness, imparting practical skills, and offering clear response frameworks, resellers can help their customers fortify their defenses against ransomware and contribute to a more secure digital environment.

Workshops provide a platform for hands-on learning, which allows customers to simulate real-world scenarios and practice appropriate response actions. Resources such as those found at Veeam University or through Veeam’s Hands-on Labs are helpful, and will prepare customers to address various cloud data management scenarios and build confidence that they can execute their data protection strategies effectively.

Providing playbooks and guidelines for effective response further enhances your customers’ preparedness. These resources offer step-by-step instructions for containing and mitigating ransomware incidents, minimizing their potential impact. Playbooks detail communication protocols, escalation paths, and recovery strategies, ensuring that customers know exactly how to respond in the event of an attack. This accelerates response times, reduces confusion, and mitigates the risk of making critical mistakes during a crisis.

9.     Case Studies and Success Stories

Part of a collaborative education between resellers and their customers includes providing real-world examples of successful ransomware mitigation strategies. I’ve provided a few brief examples of how companies around the globe have used Veeam solutions to minimize — or completely negate — the impact ransomware has had on their organization.

Carnes Viba, a food production and distribution company in Monterrey, Mexico, took proactive steps in utilizing Veeam-powered services to bolster their backup strategy. In June 2021, Carnes Viba was hit by a ransomware attack that encrypted its entire production environment — but, in a matter of hours, the company was able to fully recover their data from the cloud through a Veeam Cloud & Service Provider. There was no ransom payment and Carnes Viba avoided losing millions of pesos due to downtime.

The City of Sarasota adopted Veeam Availability Suite to help them recover from devastating flooding after a hurricane, backing up a number of valuable city services and records. A year later, the city was attacked by cybercriminals, who encrypted many of the city’s file servers and demanded $34 million in Bitcoin. Rather than pay the ransom, the City of Sarasota recovered using Veeam and successfully avoided a $34 million dollar ransom with zero impact on city services or residents.

Enloe Medical Center, a Level II trauma center in Chico, California, adopted Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 with the intent of streamlining data restore times and boosting operational efficiency. They ended up saving 20 hours per week on backup administration and cutting restore times from two weeks to one hour. When Enloe experienced a cyberattack, they had 25% of their critical systems back online within 48 hours, 75% in 96 hours, and 95% within two weeks — all without paying a ransom.

What is to be learned from these stories is that Veeam-powered services not only bolster an organization’s day-to-day operational efficiency, but also provide a framework for organizations to recover from the inevitable cyberattack. Once again, you can check out the catalogue of success stories here.

Veeam resellers maintain a pivotal role when it comes to their customers’ ransomware defenses. It is through a collaborative effort between Veeam resellers and their customers that the most effective defense strategies can be forged.

By educating customers and enabling proactivity, both parties ensure a robust defense against ransomware and its devastating consequences. Veeam provides many useful resources — use them! Resellers should not underestimate the impact they have on the success of their customers’ data protection strategies.

The ransomware landscape is dynamic and ever-changing. By arming your customers and encouraging robust security disciplines, Veeam resellers and their customers can remain at the forefront of defense, equipped to counter new challenges and safeguard digital assets with unwavering resilience.

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