The vast majority of data created today is unstructured – that is, it’s information in many different forms that don’t follow conventional data models. That makes it difficult to store and manage in a standard relational database. And it’s proliferating massively. According to IDC, 80% of all data by 2025 will be unstructured.

This type of data is also at an increased security risk. It’s particularly problematic for healthcare and financial services, though almost no industry is immune. Object storage that’s scalable and cost-effective can help address these challenges.

Unstructured data and ransomware

Organizations are collecting more and more information – including vast troves of personal information from users. And depending on the industry, this information must be saved and protected for a long time. For instance, if you’re an organization subject to HIPAA, that info must be securely saved for six years. In some cases, you have to keep data forever – and not just in some remote data lake; it must be accessible and secure.

Yet 57% of IT professionals in a recent Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) study said they believe anywhere from 20% to 50% of their sensitive data already stored in the public cloud is probably not properly secured. Sixty-one percent of respondents said they either have lost data or suspect they have done so.

As an organization collecting personal information, you must keep it safe – even as security risks proliferate. And proliferate they do. Bad actors know you have to hold that data and are eager to acquire it. Ransomware, for instance, isn’t an if but a when. It’s estimated that by 2031, such an attack will occur every two seconds. Security risks are also getting more expensive. According to the 2021 Ponemon/IBM Cost of a Data Breach study, the average cost of a breach is $4.24 million.

Finding the right storage solution

It’s clear that organizations have to take this issue seriously and get a handle on it immediately. When it comes to finding the right storage solution to address these issues, scalability is an important criterion. It would help if you had a solution that can handle your present and future needs, with the ability to store data for the long term affordably.

How Object Storage Helps Address Unstructured Data’s Increased Security Risks
How object storage helps address unstructured data’s increased security risks

Traditional storage methods were not created for the cloud era. They just cannot scale, resulting in expensive silo management. Public cloud adoption is popular because it offers agility and scalability, and you don’t need an in-house administrator to manage your data hoard. It’s a good solution for some applications and short-term data storage. Still, it doesn’t give customers significant control over the infrastructure, performance is poor, security is a concern, and cost-effectiveness lessens with time. While the cloud is initially cheaper, margins diminish as organizations scale. This situation has come to be known as “the cloud paradox.”

A better approach to object storage

What modern business requires is a safe, cost-effective solution that can scale as business demands change over the next five to ten years – one that makes data accessible to both old and new cloud/cloud-native applications, breaking down silos and allowing for rapid innovation. Done right, cloud object storage brings the benefits of the public cloud with the performance, security, and control advantages of on-premises private cloud infrastructure. All this, and you still don’t have to have an on-site data admin.

It has numerous levels of protection to prevent data from becoming corrupted, unintentionally edited, unavailable, lost, erased, rewritten, or encrypted without your consent – as happens with ransomware attacks.

This kind of cloud storage for data centers offers a remarkable blend of scale, speed, and security. It expands in lockstep with your needs. It’s adaptable, manageable, and immutable. Immutability is commonly regarded as a requirement in the battle against ransomware, but it also protects data from unintentional deletion or change (whether it’s on purpose or accidental).

Immutability is possible via support for S3 Object Lock API. This capacity makes it a watertight solution for preventing and recovering from ransomware and other incidents with the lowest possible recovery point objective/recovery time objective (RPO/RTO.) 

There was a time when the tape was thought to be the ideal air-gap medium for separating sensitive data from potentially insecure local networks and manufacturing areas. That’s no longer true. While tape has a long lifespan and a low cost-per-terabyte ratio, it has a significant operating overhead that is unsuitable for today’s businesses. For tens of petabytes and beyond, S3-compatible immutable object storage is the gold standard of air-gapped protection as well as cost-effective cloud-scale benefits.

Meeting today’s data challenges

As an IT leader, you’ll face multiple and ongoing dangers to your company’s data – and managing and controlling unstructured data is a major challenge. While these dangers can’t always be avoided, you can plan how you’ll confront them. You need solutions that ensure your data is always available and never lost so that you can maximize its value – and your peace of mind. Unstructured data brings increased security risks – especially ransomware. Object storage can play a key role in helping address these challenges.

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