Winstel Technologies Case Study
Based in Fourways, on the northern outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa, Winstel Technologies provides an outsourced IT management and support...
DN Freight avoids ransomware meltdown by just days
Winstel Technologies saves customer with timely advice to protect data with Redstor
Ransomware targeted backups
The data protection deployed - Redstor:
- Guaranteed recovery from ransomware with secure, isolated, offsite protection
- Instant access to data allows customer to get back working immediately after attack
- Remote management ideal for Covid-world, eliminating MSP’s need to send techies onsite
- Visibility of cloud and on-prem data from a single control centre and unification of critical functions like backup, data recovery and archiving
The IT consultants - Winstel Technologies
Based in Fourways, on the northern outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa, Winstel Technologies provides an outsourced IT management and support service specifically aimed at small to medium-sized enterprises.
Solutions are both affordable and tailored around the individual IT requirements of customers, who receive access to multiple IT resources including, internet access, fibre connections, cloud applications, firewalls and backups.
A freight company hit by a ransomware attack managed to avoid incalculable damage thanks to the advice of their IT service provider just days earlier.
If cyber-criminals had struck the previous week, the impact on one of South Africa’s leading freight forwarding and logistics companies would have been devastating.
Ransomware not only encrypted invaluable financial files belonging to Johannesburg-based DN Freight, it also wiped out backups in the company’s IT infrastructure.
Being without the documents that detail what is being shipped in and out of the country would have been catastrophic as there is a huge cost associated with any goods that remain in a warehouse for longer than necessary.
National Sales Manager Brett Frederiksen shudders to think about what might have happened if DN Freight had not taken up a recommendation to protect its business-critical data with Redstor.
He said: “This was the best decision we as a business have ever made, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Instead of being paralysed by cyber-criminals, DN Freight had their data restored within hours and staff quickly got to work, avoiding serious impact on the business.
The advice to deploy Redstor came from David Moffett, joint-managing director of IT consultants Winstel Technologies. He recalled: “DN Freight instantly saw the value in Redstor. However, lockdown had the company carefully cutting back on extra costs.
“We identified a potential vulnerability in the firm’s existing backups and when we asked what the monetary value might be for losing all its data in an attack, the answer was that it was invaluable. No amount of money could buy unrecoverable data.
“Within a week of investing in Redstor, the company was hacked and all on-site backup structures and processes were compromised.
“Thanks to Redstor, we recovered all the affected data, and staff were back up and running within just a few hours. Not only was the data saved, but the crippling effect on productivity, already compromised by lockdown, was minimised.
“We got someone to DN Freight at 7am and by 11.30am he had pulled the whole server back. It was a virtual machine that we booted up.”
David added: “It was our first major restore with Redstor and you never really know how something will work until it is critical, but everything worked as promised.
“DN Freight was impressed and relieved that no data was lost and no hefty ransom paid out. I can’t ever see them leaving Redstor.
“By streaming data on demand, a customer can have an index back immediately and carry on. That is a massive selling point.”
Commitment to protect customer data from threat of ransomware
Finding an alternative to complicated commercial models and convoluted invoicing
Best way to maximise margins and minimise overheads in a post-Covid world
Data encrypted at source, in transit and at rest - backups not connected to live environment
Provision additional capacity easily with total visibility of cost for everyone
Platform to view all data via a single, web-based control centre with backup and recovery, DR and archiving all included in the price
Guarantee ransomware recovery with isolated, offsite protection
Scale infinitely and budget easily with revenue assurance
Remotely manage all data from single pane of glass and ability to slash customer recovery times
Guaranteed ransomware recovery
The ransomware attack on DN Freight underlined the importance of ensuring backups are not permanently on the same network as live data.
David Kerr, joint-managing director at Winstel Technologies, said: “These hackers are clever and will get in any which way they can.
“The risk is real. We run industry-leading software programmes that look at URLs, attachments and spoofing impersonations to track this sort of stuff and a lot of malware we can stop.”
With corporate hacking on the increase, Winstel Technologies makes it clear to clients that it is almost impossible to provide 100% effective defence against a determined ransomware attack.
David Moffett said: “In the past having backups on a hidden drive might have protected organisations because ransomware looks for connected drives that it can see.
“However, in this case the ransomware found all those hidden backups and how everything ran. So everything was encrypted in the attack.”
The only way to guarantee recovery from an issue such as ransomware is by having robust, automated, isolated, offsite data protection in place.
With Redstor’s cloud solution, backups are encrypted before leaving devices and they remain that way in transit and in storage so no malware can be executed.
David added: “The encryption prevents the hackers from getting into the data. With Redstor, cyber-criminals can’t get at a customer’s backup.”
Migrations made easy
With Redstor, data can be moved easily out of or between cloud platforms without downtime - regardless of whether the data is onsite, in the cloud or stored in a hybrid environment.
It appears as if the migration occurs almost instantly, allowing users to continue working uninterrupted. There's no need to wait until files have fully transferred.
When we do server migrations, we can grab a full server and create all 365 data and do all our migrations without even bothering the customer at all. That is a real benefit for a managed service provider."
“Redstor also feeds into our other businesses. It is a good door opener for our other managed-service offerings.
“SMEs have been slow to move to OneDrive and SharePoint, but that is changing as the cost of fibre comes down and access to bandwidth increases.
“Every time we come to replace a server, we always say 'look, guys, if you have to run it for SQL, that’s fine, let’s put that in, but let’s try to get your data moved to SharePoint, especially in the light of the rise in home-working during the pandemic’. It is a lot easier than with VPNs, as you just grab your data and go. It will become very prevalent in SA in the next year or two.”
Simple to deploy and manage
With its multi-tenanted capabilities, SaaS delivery model and positioning, Redstor is incredibly simple to deploy and manage.
David Moffett welcomes the ability to configure and manage all 50TB of customer data on a single, cloud-based platform along with the ability to deliver backup and recovery, DR and archiving solutions rapidly without the need to dispatch technical personnel to site.
He said: “We can see everything all at once and we get an email every day with little green squares indicating that everything is ok. If for any reason a backup has not completed, we can see that immediately, investigate it and sort it straight away.”
Transparent pricing, easy scaling
With Redstor, the customer avoids any upfront expenditure or commitment as there are no appliances to buy, install or manage and no egress or ingress charges.
Being able to budget so easily and accurately with Redstor provides revenue assurance for Winstel Technologies and avoids any bill shock for their customers.
David Kerr said: “We don’t chase the big one-off deals, our business is built on annuity income. We want a customer to stick with us, so we pick solutions that are really good with a view to making our money over a period of years. We are really chuffed because with Redstor our customers don’t move. “
Winstel Technologies also appreciates the value of Redstor’s pre-sales support to qualify and onboard new customers.
David Moffett said: “Access to sales and marketing makes a big difference, while the support Redstor provides is always very helpful - whatever time I call. That is important. Our customers expect to be able to speak to us at night so it’s good to know that we can receive help at the same time.”
Ready for a
The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing businesses to find better ways of operating.
David Kerr said: “Since the advent of Covid-19, there has been far more remote working where employees are using their home laptops to connect in. You have more vulnerabilities. Kids are on their laptops too so there are more endpoints and routes and firewalls for us to manage.
“We can’t touch all of those in our SME market so the vulnerabilities are far greater now than when everybody was working in an office, so I think security issues are just going to get worse. I don’t see anything getting better in the short term. That’s for sure.”
David Moffett agreed: “For example, if someone clicks on the wrong link and a 365 account is compromised and that person has admin rights then everyone’s 365 data has gone.
“I always ask a customer ‘Do you want to guarantee your data?’ That’s what it comes down to, making sure it does not disappear.”
Keeping customer backups isolated from the live environment with Redstor prevents them from being targeted by hackers or malware authors.
David Moffett added: “Money has been an issue since the advent of Covid-19 - but we have now emailed clients to let them know that if they’re not using Redstor, we cannot guarantee their onsite backups any more.
“If they don’t go for Redstor, we ask them to put in writing that they are aware that we can’t guarantee a recovery from a ransomware attack.”