Data storage trends: the impact of new technologies, regulation and ransomware

Preservation and protection of data will continue to be of paramount importance for every organisation

The last few years in data recovery and data storage technology have seen faster flash storage technology, tremendous growth in adoption of hyper-converged storage and the proliferation of ransomware cases. In 2017 and beyond, we will be on the lookout for continued changes to technology used in data centres, additional implementation of data encryption and an increased emphasis on enterprise information security.

So what are the issues that our engineering team have seen in recent years and how will these continue to shape up in the 12 months that lie ahead? We’ve analysed the changing profile of requests for data recovery from our clients and partners and identified the following five big trends.

Flash/SSD technology continues its proliferation in the storage technology market

As our personal devices get smaller and are able to store even more data, so too do enterprise storage technologies. Flash continues to change the market at a blistering pace. While the cost of SSD continues to be higher than traditional storage, many enterprises are nevertheless taking a hybrid approach. 

At Kroll Ontrack, we have seen a 239 per cent increase in the number of hybrid drives needing data recovery since 2014. Flash drives are often paired with more dated HDD technologies to save cost, but enterprises still reap the benefits of a storage technology that is faster, higher density and requires less power. 

Hyper-converged storage continues its ascent

In our list of 2015 trends, Kroll Ontrack detailed hyper-converged systems as a leading innovation to IT architecture that consolidates storage resources via software run on any manufacturer’s hardware and predicted continued adoption in 2016. While there are not many years of data to draw on, there has been an increase in customer enquiries about hyper-converged storage and related recoveries. We are seeing that recovery from these complex systems often requires a custom solution because data is fully integrated into the unit making it difficult to gain sector-level access to the disks.

New storage configurations do not pose the only possible challenge when working with hyper-converged storage. While highly sophisticated, these newer systems have a more intuitive user interface and tend to be easier to set up and manage at first glance. As a result, organisations are employing less specialised individuals to operate hyper-converged storage systems – employees who may not have the depth of knowledge needed to solve more complex problems. This presents new challenges when backups need to be verified or when data loss occurs, for example. Nevertheless, look for enterprises to continue moving data to hyper-converged storage environments because of their many benefits.

Ransomware cases on the rise, no downturn expected anytime soon

Stories of ransomware and associated data loss were rampant in 2016, with anyone being a potential victim: hospitals, corporations, individuals and government entities were all exposed or lost data in these attacks. Wearable technology is especially vulnerable as there can be little to no real security on these devices.

We always recommend to customers whose data is compromised or stolen that they turn to a trusted data recovery provider that is able to build a customised solution to recover their data without having to pay potential victimisers. As data and devices continue to proliferate our lives in every way, it’s important to know how to protect yourself before these attacks happen. For example, it’s vital to set strong passwords and dispose of unneeded data. At Kroll Ontrack, we have a decryption process defined for 55 ransomware variants and make every effort to stay ahead of the criminal fraternity in their efforts to hold customers to ransom.

High-quality encryption is the go-to standard for information security

The rise of ransomware attacks and other security vulnerabilities will see increased encryption adoption across many fields – not just government, finance and healthcare. Every organisation that stores sensitive information should take care to protect their data through encryption. To support more robust information security measures, data recovery companies will need to expend additional resources to solve encryption puzzles to recover lost data.

Information security professionals play a bigger role in enterprise IT decisions

Kroll Ontrack data recovery engineers have seen a nearly two-fold increase (60 per cent growth) in onsite data recovery requests in the last year, largely attributed to the rising perception around data sensitivities. With additional focus on data security and complying with data protection regulations, information security has become a driving force and a key decision maker in IT departments. 

The requirements of the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations will continue to drive awareness of the need for compliance. Act now. These are the most significant updates to data protection laws since the current EU Data Protection Directive was passed in 1995 (which is now to be superseded by the GDPR), so our advice is to act now. Getting ready for the GDPR will require time and resources to implement new processes, so get early and consistent support for the process of change from across the business.

Data security enforcement around sensitive credit card information and healthcare data, for example, results in more onsite work, security audits and background checks. Highly regulated industries are already interested in this conversation, but perceived sensitivities in other industries are growing to dictate data recovery protocols.


Conclusion

Data privacy is a major consideration and Kroll Ontrack is committed to meeting customers’ changing demands. When the client permits, remote data recovery is a viable option to maintain organisational security and data privacy without going onsite. We can only speculate about what the big data storage trends will be in 2018 and beyond, but the ongoing reliance on technology in our personal and business lives, together with stringent new regulation, means that the preservation and protection of data will continue to be of paramount importance for every organisation.

Robin England, Senior Research & Development Engineer at Kroll Ontrack
Image source: Shutterstock/Carlos Amarillo