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Quest for resilience turns up ransomware backup strategy

When Hubert Barkley, vice president of information and technology at Waste Industries, bought copy data management software Actifio, he didn’t know he was also buying a ransomware backup strategy.

The Raleigh, N.C., waste and recycling collection company is digitizing fast, installing sensors on its fleet of trucks to supply information on the vehicles’ maintenance and help drivers find the best routes for pickup. With all that information generated by the trucks passing through the company’s blend of data center and cloud architecture, Barkley needed to make sure it was always available and accessible in case of a disruption. The vogue term today, instead of disaster recovery is resilience, as SearchCIO’s sister site SearchSecurity points out.

Hubert Barkley

copy data management software gets him there. It stores one master copy of data that absorbs changes and reduces the proliferation of copy data, duplicate copies of data that’s often kept on servers for data recovery purposes. The software reduces the risk of losing wide swaths of data and hastens recovery time, Barkley said.

But it has also had an unexpected side benefit: It has given him a ransomware backup strategy, practically abolishing the specter of ransomware. That’s the malicious software that locks up computer systems, turning data into encrypted gibberish, until money is paid. WannaCry — which targeted computers in 150 countries in 2017 and continues to terrorize — and other attacks frayed no shortage of nerves on boards and in IT.

“I can’t really divulge a lot of information, but let’s just say we had another company in the waste space that got their environment compromised — and they had to pay a ransom,” Barkley said.

He wondered if he could be in the same situation. He wouldn’t, not with Actifio’s software. He laid out what he’d do if Waste Industries were attacked.

“I’d find out where the leak is. I’d tell the people to go stuff it, and in about 15 minutes I can have my data back from my golden copy of data.”

Malware attacks are still something to be concerned about, Barkley said, but the ransomware backup strategy his new software installation equips him with also gives him with newfound confidence.

“I care if somebody ransomwares me; I care about our standing in the community,” he said. “But the point is, I don’t have to pay a ransom to get my data. That was really an unintended consequence of the project.”

Hubert Barkley discusses more about Waste Industries’ copy data management project and how his IT organization aims to deliver value to the business in a two-part SearchCIO interview.

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