Object storage architecture inherently provides an extra security layer for your data. As such, it can be an ideal solution to avoid ransomware threats.
First, let’s start with explaining the differences between traditional storage solutions and object storage.
Object storage vs. Block Storage
With traditional block and file storage, information is typically stored in file systems that allow you to locate each item by following the defined path to that file.
If you need to share data among a group of users through a network, it is best to do so over network-attached storage (NAS). This will work great on a local architecture network (LAN) but might not be so great via wide area network (WAN).
While managing several NAS boxes is not that hard; doing so with hundreds of boxes makes things difficult. When the number of files and users grows substantially, it takes a lot of time and effort to find a particular file. In addition to this, you might even reach your storage file-limit sooner than expected.
Traditional storage was not designed for terabytes of data, so there is a good chance of data loss in the first two years.
Prominent characteristics of traditional storage include:
- Files are shared via NAS or SAN
- Each edit deletes the previous version of that file, and it cannot be restored on the device
- Connecting NAS boxes for scaling
- A file system is located by following its destination path
- Initially, it is straightforward to set up
- Configured with standard file level protocols, like NTFS, NFS, etc.
When talking about cost-considerations, you need to plan your requirements over time carefully. Having too much storage means you will pay for resources you do not need. On the other hand, not having any buffer room might put you in a tight spot when faced with no storage space.
Ransomware was explicitly created to take advantage of the shortcomings of block-and-file storage by encrypting files and locking out users.
Malicious software can even circumvent a volume snapshot service (VSS). That means that you would not be able to recover shadow versions either.
How Object Storage Works
Object storage creates immutable sets of data. It includes versioning and elaborate geo-diverse data replication schemes.
When I say immutable, I mean that data cannot be modified once created. To further clarify, it can be modified, but each edit is saved as a new version.
Object Storage uses flat-file data architecture and stores data in unchangeable containers or so-called buckets. Data, along with its metadata and unique ID, is bundled up in objects.
IT admins gain more control over their objects by assigning a virtually unlimited number of metadata fields. This is an inherent advantage over traditional storage. Thanks to metadata and the unique identifier that lets you locate objects easily, object storage works perfectly for unstructured data such as 4K videos, medical archives, or other large files.
Due to its lack of data hierarchy, object storage features scalability which could not have ever been achieved with block storage.
Advantages of object storage include:
- Continually scalable without any significant performance degradation
- Perfect for high volumes and large files
- Safer thanks to immutable data
- Capable of versioning
- Features replication schemes
- Good at maintaining data integrity
- Excellent for dealing with ransomware
- Perfect for file-sharing
- Unparalleled when it comes to metadata
This may sound like object storage is the best thing ever. However, the truth is that this approach is quite specific and not a good fit for every use case.
For example, object storage does not work well for frequently modified data, as there is no guarantee that a GET request will return the most recent version of the object. Furthermore, since objects are accessed via REST API, you may need to do a little bit of coding to make direct REST-based calls.
Even if it is not a one-fits-all solution, object storage does address problems that cannot be solved efficiently with traditional storage.
Object storage is perfect for:
1. Big Data
Big data is a huge (no pun intended) part of 21st century IT. It provides an answer to the ever-growing demand for more storage. In most cases, big data is unstructured and varies in the file type.
Let’s take for example Facebook and the social media phenomenon. This is a relatively new and non-traditional source of data that are being processed by analytics apps. The results are massive amounts of unstructured data. In such conditions, an object storage environment offers the necessary scalability, security, and accessibility.
2. Creating Backup Copies
I cannot stress enough the fact that it is an excellent fit for frequently used, but seldom modified data.
If you are not using a supported backup utility, such as Veeam Cloud Connect of R1Soft, you can leverage object storage for backing up your data. To do this, you would need to use the right cloud backup solution or software, such as Cloudberry Backup.
An archive is not the same as a backup. Backups are files that are very rarely used, and we turn to backups only if something goes wrong. Archives are similar but serve a different purpose.
Compared to backups, archives are accessed more frequently and serve to store and quickly obtain large quantities of data. Businesses with various backgrounds may store medical files in the cloud, engineering documents, videos, and other unstructured data.
After a while, it may become increasingly difficult to find an individual file, not to mention secure all data. However, with object storage IT admins can quickly secure and maintain data integrity, all the while providing easy access.
4. Media & Entertainment
It has never been easier to share information, whether you are on the receiving or giving end. However, nobody seems to think about the resources necessary to store such vast amounts of unstructured data. S3 object storage is especially useful for this use case, as it is easy to build entire front-facing apps based on its API. Perfect for media & entertainment.
5. Hosting a Static Website
Object storage has a suitable architecture for hosting static websites thanks to its virtually infinite scalability. This means it will scale automatically to your traffic needs.
Public users will access your data via the web, just like with any other hosted website. However, it must be noted that no personalized data can be displayed based on cookies and there is no support for server-side scripting. So, there are some limitations.
6. Streaming Services
With the emergence of online video streaming services and the internet becoming globally available, keeping chunks of data in a single location no longer makes much sense. You need fast global access, unlimited storage (a 1h raw 4k video can take as much as 130GB!), scalability, durability, and excellent metadata management.
Object storage technology ticks all the right checkboxes, and it helps that it was built for HTTPS. The best thing is that you can use object storage for several use cases at the same time.
Ransomware, the Role That Object Storage Vendors Can Play
Official statistics claim that ransomware took in $209 million in 2016 alone, while the cost of downtime was even higher. Datto’s report found that 48% of businesses lost critical data when faced with such threats. This is a loss that cannot be easily measured in dollars.
In 2018, ransomware continued to dominate the world of cybersecurity. 6 out of 10 malware payloads in Q1 were ransomware. From WannaCry to NotPetya and BadRabbit, we can safely say that ransomware threats have marked the year behind us. Furthermore, we can safely assume that ransomware has become the biggest security threat any organization or individual may face in the cyber realm forcing them to turn to more advanced ransomware protection solutions.