Network attached storage (NAS) instant access, also known as instant file services or instant file share, is the process of making an organization’s files and folders immediately available to all users. All without waiting to repair or restore the original storage, or without waiting to move the data to another location. If it is unclear to you why your organization needs NAS instant access? Imagine you’ve been attacked and your SecOps and IT team need immediate access to their tools, but they are located on the IT shared drive of the NAS system that was attacked. Or perhaps, the on-call support team, fields a late-night call from the CFO, who is scrambling to meet an audit deadline, but they have been locked out of corporate file share.
NAS instant access is increasingly becoming a business-critical IT capability and a delivery requirement of modern data management.
Why bad actors target NAS
Today’s businesses collect an enormous amount of data—much of it valuable and vulnerable to cyberattackers. Ransomware such as Deadbolt, OLocker, and ech0raix specifically target NAS devices because these legacy systems often contain highly sensitive data. This data could be confidential communications, internal analysis documents, and even trade secrets. Even personally identifiable information (PII), or protected health information (PHI) could be stored on NAS devices. All of these data types are exposed to bad actors who can encrypt it, and then kick off a double-extortion scheme to exfiltrate and sell this valuable data on the dark web.
Beyond the value of the data in them, NAS devices are built for connecting to other systems. Their very architecture—opening and closing ports automatically—can make them more accessible to bad actors, particularly if they aren’t regularly updated and patched.
The value of NAS protection and instant restore
Business data captured in the structured rows and columns of a database are easy for businesses to query, report, and use to gain competitive insights. NAS data is business data, too. Yet, it’s not stored in the same structure as a database but rather in unstructured formats such as text, video, images, audio, rich media, device sensor data (e.g., IoT), and more. This valuable unstructured data remains completely untapped, and unsecure in most cases. This lack of visibility into unstructured data also means that the vast majority of it can remain largely unprotected by data security tools and strategies.
In contrast to the recovery of structured data—which can be as straightforward as finding and getting back a corrupted row or table, without customers or employees really knowing anything was missing—recovering NAS data, with legacy solutions, can be painful. Databases in general are seen as business, or time critical, but some unstructured data can be as time critical as structured data, especially if needed in a life-threatening situation. For example, teams restoring NAS data, such as image files from a medical application, could spend hours or days on the process. Despite these image files being large chunks of data stored efficiently to disks, the recovery can be long because traditional, legacy NAS protection and recovery solutions are inefficient.
IDC predicts the volume of data will grow to 175 billion terabytes by 2025. Conventional wisdom says approximately 80% of the world’s data will be unstructured by that time. Because many of the most popular business applications use and store unstructured data, the onus is on the IT organizations to make it simple to instantly access NAS data, just as they have done for virtual machines (VMs).
Performing instant NAS recovery
Cohesity NAS Backup and Restore is a highly efficient way to recover business-critical file shares. Unlike legacy products, Cohesity maintains all backup snapshots fully hydrated, and available for instant access, directly from within the Cohesity runtime environment. The solution leverages Cohesity SpanFS, a distributed file system, which does not depend on a separate primary storage system being online and available. Using the combination of a file system, fully hydrated snapshots, built-in search and indexing capabilities, Cohesity customers can instantly access all or part of any NAS share directly on the Cohesity platform. Cohesity NAS Backup and Restore restores a single file, folder, or any combination.
With Cohesity DataProtect, enterprises can quickly and easily secure and migrate data all at the same time. IT teams can easily back up NAS data to the Cohesity modern data management platform for full data protection of volumes and files that reside in an SMB or NFS share, by configuring backup policies to protect these file services.
In the case of a natural disaster, ransomware, or human error, when an entire NAS device may be compromised, IT teams can use Cohesity’s NAS instant access at scale. Cohesity also, fully protects the access and integrity of the data in the same way the original primary storage does. Unlike some backup solutions, if one of the nodes fails unexpectedly, there is no loss of data, not even data written milliseconds ago, and access to the file shares continues without interruption.
Organizations seeking even more functionality and flexibility for file and object restoration can also discover Cohesity SmartFiles. It supports the rapid restore of SMB, NFS, and S3 Objects.
When Sky Lakes Medical Center, a healthcare organization serving more than 80,000 people in south-central Oregon and northern California, was attacked by ransomware, its IT staff was able to refuse the ransom and recover quickly with Cohesity. The team instantly cloned the last good backup of its NAS shares and served those files directly from the Cohesity cluster—recovering the service to users without the need to move any data.
“Our organization suffered a critical ransomware attack, effectively crippling our entire infrastructure. With Cohesity, we’ve been able to recover machines and file shares, verify they’re clean, and bring the applications back online. Cohesity has literally saved us hundreds of hours of work, and I’d say it prevented us from having to actually pay the ransom note. We all still have jobs and the community has a functional hospital because we have had so much success with Cohesity,” says Sam Stewart, Sky Lakes Network Systems Analyst.