Well we’re deep into football season, so I decided what better time to chat with David Powell, TekLinks Vice President of Managed & Cloud Services, than when his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide are fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoffs. (Meanwhile, my Wake Forest Demon Deacons are mired in their sixth straight losing season.)
In short, I thought a little distraction for David would be good for him, and he agreed to give me some insight into how TekLinks is ramping up data protection for their customers using Cisco Cloud-Powered Solutions.
With all of the malware attacks in the world today, sometimes Mother Nature is still the biggest threat to data security. When a deadly tornado outbreak in April 2011 occurred, Peoples Bank of Cullman, AL, experienced firsthand how important it is to have a backup data center location for their core infrastructure. The TekLinks’ networking team was already watching the tornado’s activity via Skycam when they were alerted that the connectivity at all of the Peoples Banks in Cullman had gone out simultaneously.
The team’s suspicions were confirmed when they received word that the bank’s entire second floor was gone. However, the bank’s primary servers were still intact. Early the next morning, the bank’s CTO and technical staff transported the servers to one of TekLinks’ Birmingham data centers, where an entire team of TekLinks engineers were waiting to get their core servers re-cabled, properly powered up, and reconnected to the network. The TekLinks team worked around the clock with the bank’s IT staff to get the bank’s environment and online customer services back up in less than 36 hours after the incident.
“None of that would have been possible if it weren’t for the scalability and efficiency of the Cisco-audited infrastructure at the heart of our data center operations,” according to David. “But it’s also a great lesson in why multiple locations, redundancy, and continuous availability are so important in a business’s ability to counter risk and recover quickly from the unexpected.”
Ransomware is a particular piece of malware that restricts access to the system it infects. It typically locks down the files on an infected drive and demands a ransom be paid to the ransomware creator for the files to be released from restriction. You may have first heard of ransomware when Cryptolocker was causing problems last fall.
According to PC World, file-encrypting ransomware held more than 600K computers hostage in the past several months. CryptoLocker’s more insidious relative CryptoWall is still wreaking havoc on hundreds of thousands of computer systems – earning its creators over $1 million.
What makes CryptoWall so dangerous is that its malware is able to encrypt files stored not only on local hard drives, but on mapped network shared drives, including cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. Researchers estimate that nearly 5.25 billion files have been taken hostage between March and August of 2014.
So how can companies and their employees combat potentially debilitating malware like the Crypto-family? Well that’s where David was able to show me some of the things TekLinks is doing to provide protection.
“Offsite or cloud storage with your Google drive simply isn’t enough, especially when it comes to your business data,” David explained. “You must have offsite backups that are completely separate and secure from the files you maintain locally or even in your consumer cloud storage account. Your best bet is to contact your IT solution provider and begin utilizing their co-location facilities and/or cloud backup services – preferably both for maximum redundancy.”
TekLinks currently provides rackspace in any of their data centers to clients looking for co-location services, as well as cloud storage, cloud backups, and virtual machine (VM) replication services.
“With the increase in cyber threats each year, we’re seeing an uptick in our clients taking the necessary steps to safeguard their environments and their data with the help of Cisco-powered cloud solutions. Many of them desire high availability and reliability, adopting it in a way that makes the most sense for their business,” David said. “The hybrid approach to cloud adoption is so popular right now. They keep the in-house applications they need onsite, and then move everything else that cannot tolerate downtime to a cloud environment to ensure seamless business continuity.”
Based on my conversations with David, he believes that as we continue to see data security breaches and natural disasters rise, the best defense is a prepared offense, utilizing a hybrid approach to cloud.
What do you think of the work TekLinks has done in data protection for its customers? Let us know in the comments section and be sure to give me a shout if you have a great idea for a Partner Voices blog featuring another Cisco Partner.