GRC Viewpoint

8-Points to Validate Data Storage & Backup Security

The average cost of recovery from a ransomware attack has more than doubled in a year, according to a Sophos survey.

The global report also shows that just 8% of organizations manage to get back all of their data after paying the ransom.

With the increased number and sophistication of ransomware attacks, it’s not a matter of if, but when. And when it does happen, your ability to recover clean and up-to-date backup files is your last line of defense.

The vast majority of critical data is stored in storage systems. In fact, one storage system is equivalent to about a thousand servers.

Cybercriminals can circumvent many existing protection layers, to do great harm: steal data, tamper with sensitive records, and destroy your data and its backups.

According to NIST Special Publication  800-209 Security Guidelines For Storage Infrastructure, organizations are required to, “Periodically and proactively assess configuration compliance to storage security policy… This includes making sure the actual configuration meets the storage & backup security baselines and identify gaps.”

In November 2022, ISO published ISO/IEC 27001, the world’s best-known standard for information security management systems, which includes the following requirement: “Control backup copies of information, software and systems shall be maintained and regularly tested in accordance with the agreed topic-specific policy on backup.”

In June 2023, ISO will be publishing ISO/IEC 27040, a new standard dedicated to storage and backup security. This includes the following critical requirements: “Actively manage the security posture of the storage technology and protection mechanisms… Perform regular security threat assessments to evaluate security readiness… All operating systems, hypervisors and applications should be hardened relative to the use of the storage system.”

It’s not surprising auditors are now paying attention to the security of enterprise storage and backup systems, and failure to show effective risk controls may lead to severe penalties.

Your 8-Point Checklist To Validate the Security of Data Storage and Backup Systems

A ransomware attack is a horrible time to discover that your backups are not secure, so to help, here’s an 8-point checklist to determine whether your organization’s storage and backups are sufficiently secured, and whether data is fully protected.

1. Do your security incident-response plans include cyberattacks on your storage and backups?  If so, what’s included:

    • Recovery from a complete wipe of a storage array
    • Recovery from a complete corruption of the SAN fabric configuration
    • Recovery from ransomware

2. Is there a complete inventory of your storage and backup devices, that includes the current security status for each one?

    • All backups, archive environments, storage arrays (block, file, object), and SAN switches
    • Storage software versions (storage OS, firmware deployed), and, in particular: patching status, known CVEs, and actual resolution status
    • What is backed up? Where? How?
    • Which storage & backup protocols are allowed? Are all obsolete and insecure protocols disabled

3. Is there comprehensive and secure event logging and auditing of your storage and backups?

    • Including: central log services, redundant and tamper-proof records, and redundant and reliable time service

4. Are you able to audit the configuration changes?

    • e.g., what changed and when – in device configuration, storage mapping, and access control?

5. Is there a well-documented, and enforced separation of duties for your storage and backups?

    • e.g., separate admins for storage, backup, and disaster recover in each environment

6. Are all storage and backup administrative-access mechanisms documented?

    • e.g., which APIs are open, how many central storage management systems can control each storage device, and are there any servers or OS instances that can control storage

7. Are existing mechanisms for ransomware protection, air-gapping, and copy-locking used?

    • Is there an audit process to verify they are correctly deployed at all times?

8. Is the security of your storage and backups regularly audited?

    • Does this audit process include: SAN communication devices, storage arrays (block, file, object), server-based SAN, and backup?

Take the 2-minute Ransomware Resiliency Assessment for Storage and Backups, and get your own maturity score and practical recommendations – to help protect your data, and ensure recoverability.

By Doron Pinhas, Chief Technology Officer at Continuity

Doron is an avid Storage and Backup security advocate, and one of the two authors of the recently published NIST special publication titled: “Security Guidelines for Storage Infrastructure”.  Alongside continuous research of storage security, threat landscape, and market maturity analysis, he is also engaged in writing, public speaking and information exchanged with leading organizations.

Doron has over 20 years of experience in data and storage management, mission critical computing, operating system design and development, cloud computing, and networking architecture.

Related Articles

Latest Articles