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NAS Security: What to Expect and How to Secure your NAS

Network attached storage (NAS) systems are a permanent fixture in a corporate data center. Whether it’s setting up a file storage and sharing environment for your remote workforce, storing surveillance videos, financial records, and patient information, or running 4K media applications – chances are you’re going to need a NAS.

But is your NAS protected from ransomware attacks? What NAS security challenges should you expect in 2022? And how can you secure your NAS from these threats? In this blog, we touch up on these topics and help you navigate the world of network storage security so that you can make sure you don’t end in the news as a ransomware attack victim.

NAS Security Challenges in 2022

Here are the most common NAS security challenges that enterprises face every day.

Ransomware Attacks Target Network Attached Storage

Whether it’s Deadbolt ransomware encrypting thousands of NAS devices, Qlocker or Quantum ransomware exploiting known vulnerabilities in a popular NAS operating system, NAS appliances are always one of the most sought after targets of ransomware attacks.

In addition to exploiting known vulnerabilities, ransomware attacks employ social engineering, by means of phishing emails, to “encourage” employees with administrative access into making a mistake and releasing the payload onto the corporate network – threatening network storage security.

With cybercriminals continuously coming up with new ways to target your NAS, making sure that your file storage and sharing environment is safe is an ever-growing challenge for SMBs, SMEs, and large enterprises alike. 

Human Error and Disgruntled Employees Risk Network Storage Security

In most cases, all it takes is a single misinformed click to release a ransomware that is capable of encrypting thousands of files in mere minutes. This makes human error the ‘Achilles heel’ of any secure NAS environment. It could be your receptionist with access to network storage, or your storage administrator having a bad day – such “incidents” are nearly impossible to predict and equally hard to prevent.

Not to mention disgruntled employees don’t make it any easier. Reports suggest that 20% organizations have experienced data breaches by ex-employees. Without the appropriate offboarding processes, former employees with administrative access will continue to be a network storage security risk.

Secure File Storage for a Distributed Remote Workforce

Making sure that your on-prem NAS is secure is one thing but delivering secure network access to a remote workforce, looking to access business-critical information at different times from different locations, is a whole different ball game.

With business workloads moving to insecure home networks, protecting your endpoints from ransomware isn’t easy but it is critical. Not only does your storage administrator have to make sure that the data is secure at rest but also in transit – in addition to being available at all times. 

Queue complex Virtual Private Network (VPN) configurations, network access management, hours of troubleshooting, and proportional costs – calling it a “challenge” is an understatement.

Strict Regulatory Compliance

The increasing theft of personal records, such as Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Protected Health Information (PHI), etc. has created the need for legislation forcing businesses to ensure transparency and data protection of user information.

Governments are now willing and actively investing in cybersecurity making it a point for data processors to focus on user information protection. An example of such investments is the US government’s proposal to invest $10.9 billion in cybersecurity.

In the US, while there is no single law that covers data protection of all types, there are a number of federal, state-level and sector-specific laws that serve to protect the data and privacy of US residents. Examples include SOX, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, GLBA, and more.

In the pursuit of automation, data analytics, and targeted marketing, while organizations eagerly collect user information, they have to adhere to a stringent data protection practice which ensures network storage security and prevent threats such as ransomware from gaining malicious access.

How to Secure Your NAS Infrastructure (NAS Security Features)

In a threat landscape filled with ransomware attacks, human error, and disgruntled employees governed by strict regulatory policies, it’s necessary for NAS solution providers to think beyond file storage and sharing.

Without integrated NAS security features, a file storage solution is simply inadequate. Here are five NAS storage security features that every file storage environment needs: 

Store Sensitive Files in Immutable File Storage Volumes (File Lockdown)

Immutable storage volumes prevent editing, overwriting, and deletion of stored data for a specified period of time. This makes them ransomware-proof as ransomware attempts to either encrypt or overwrite user data – which is why the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends immutable storage as a means to mitigate ransomware risks.

By setting up immutable volumes on your NAS, using features such as file lockdown, you can make sure that sensitive employee or customer information cannot be maliciously encrypted or deleted.

Configure Regular Delta-Based Immutable Snapshots

Snapshots protect data by restoring the system to a point in time before an error, or ransomware attack occurred. Immutable snapshots cannot be edited, overwritten, or deleted. This makes them ransomware-proof and more reliable than traditional snapshot technology.

Moreover, delta-based, or change-based, snapshots are faster than traditional snapshots because, after the first snapshot, they only create snapshots for the changes. Not only is this faster but it also saves storage space.

Immutable snapshots make sure that even if ransomware infects the network, users can simply roll back to an earlier version of the system – prior to the attack. While this process does leave room for data loss, the more frequent the snapshots are configured, the less the data loss is.

Employing Anti-virus and Anti-Ransomware Protection

Ransomware attacks are the fastest growing malware threat today and are expected to be a major problem in 2022. Several ransomware are programmed to stay dormant (sleeper ransomware) and take note of target storage repositories and connected storage devices before infecting them.

Anti-ransomware protects ransomware from encrypting files using behavior-based analysis and checks for dormant malware, removing it before it can take effect. This is why corporate NAS data centers need to be equipped with built-in anti-virus and anti-ransomware.

Deploying NAS Backup Solutions

While preventive measures are necessary, prevention alone is not enough because cyberthreats are continuously changing. It’s equally important to have a failsafe when all else fails. The failsafe in this context is having a reliable backup strategy such as the 3-2-1, 3-2-1-1-0, or 4-3-2.

An effective backup strategy ensures that your data can be recovered in the event of a disaster, whether it is caused by human error, hardware failure, or a ransomware attack.

Encrypting Your Storage

Encryption provides end-to-end data protection and uses algorithms, such as AES 256-bit, to create a decryption key. Without the right key, the data cannot be decrypted and is rendered useless. This implies that even if sensitive data gets into the wrong hands, it will be entirely unusable.

It’s important to use encryption at rest, and in transit to make sure sensitive information is secure throughout the data lifecycle.

Network Storage Security Features in StoneFly Super Scale Out NAS Solutions

StoneFly Super Scale Out (SSO) NAS appliances, powered by StoneFly’s patented software-defined storage operating system StoneFusion™, come preconfigured with military-grade, compliant, and automated data protection and data security features that make sure your file storage and sharing environment is secure and ransomware-proof.

Here’s a list of the network storage security features in StoneFly SSO NAS appliances that help overcome the abovementioned challenges:

Immutable Storage Volumes On-Prem and in the Cloud using File Lockdown

With StoneFly SSO NAS appliances, you can provision unalterable, compliant, and secure NAS storage volumes on-prem and or in the cloud. Since these volumes are immutable, they offer data security against ransomware, virus, human error, and malicious deletion. 

The built-in storage gateway in StoneFly NAS appliances also allow you to provision immutable cloud volumes using S3 object lockdown. Easily lock objects, specify retention time as per your policy, and prevent your data from being modified, deleted, or overwritten.

Automated Delta Based Immutable Snapshots Ensure Reduced Recovery Time and Point Objectives

Configure regular immutable snapshots for your mission-critical data, such as PII, PHI, financial records, health records, surveillance videos, etc. and make your unstructured data storage ransomware resilient while ensuring fast recovery times and reduced downtime.

Since StoneFusion takes delta-based snapshots based on the changes you make, the snapshots take less space and are quicker. Furthermore, you can choose to frequently schedule snapshots and automate them which in turn makes recovery faster, and allows you to achieve near-zero recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives.

Built-in Automated Anti-Ransomware and Anti-Virus

StoneFly StoneFusion comes with AI-based anti-ransomware and anti-virus which automatically scans for threats such as dormant ransomware, virus, and other malware. The anti-ransomware checks for any unusual behavior and activity detecting encryption processes and stopping them before they can take effect.

You can schedule daily or weekly threat scans and check your file storage environment for dormant threats. The threat scan process is optimized to be light and does not consume unnecessary compute resources.

Optional Integrated Veeam NAS Backups

As a Veeam Propartner and Gold reseller, we offer optional integrated Veeam backups in all our SSO NAS appliances. With Veeam, you can configure hourly, daily, and weekly backups and snapshots of your critical volumes and store these backups on-prem, in a secondary appliance, and/or in the cloud.

Instead of managing multiple tech support teams and investing additional time and resources, we provide a turnkey solution that combines high performance on-prem storage technology with Veeam’s reliable enterprise backup so that you have “one throat to choke”.

Furthermore, we also offer training and remote backup and disaster recovery (DR) management for organizations looking to reduce their management overhead, time investments, and cost.

AES 256-bit Encryption at Rest and SSL/TLS Tunneling in Transit

StoneFly SSO NAS uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure your data, from the moment it is created to the moment it is stored.

Ensure network storage security and prevent unauthorized access protect your mission-critical workloads with AES 256-bit – military grade encryption for data at rest and SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and/or TLS (Transport Layer Security) tunneling for data in transit.

Ensure High Availability with Synchronous and Asynchronous Replication

Ensure high availability for your hot-tier critical data, with real-time synchronous replication, and cold-tier data with asynchronous (scheduled) replication.

StoneFusion enables you to prevent data loss by replicating your data to a secondary onsite/offsite NAS appliance, public or private cloud.

With sync/async replication, you can set up instant recovery for mission-critical workloads, and reduce your Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs). Moreover, replication also helps with strategies such as 3-2-1, 3-2-1-1-0, and 4-3-2 which in turn help compliance regulations that require you to create and store a second copy of your data.

For more on replication, read What is replication and how does it work?

Conclusion

Ransomware and cybercriminals target vulnerabilities to infiltrate and infect corporate networks and connected storage devices. This makes it necessary for NAS solutions to be equipped with data security features in addition to high performance, and scalable file storage capabilities.  

With the right combination of network storage security features, you can secure your NAS without additional hardware, time investment, configuration, or costs. 

StoneFly SSO NAS appliances provide a turnkey experience combining data security with high performance data storage. The integrated data features of SSO NAS appliances include file lockdown, immutable delta-based snapshots, anti-ransomware, optional integrated Veeam backups, AES 256-bit data encryption, and replication.

Looking for a secure NAS? Contact StoneFly sales today at sales@stonefly.com

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