Case Study

How Life's Abundance Beat Ransomware in Two Hours

By Special Guest
Charlie Scherker, IT Director at Life's Abundance
  |  November 02, 2016

Life’s Abundance makes healthy products that are inspired by nature and informed by science. Its product mix includes dog food, cat food, pet insurance, people supplements, and eco-friendly cleaners. With a focus on safety, it is the company’s commitment to use as many natural ingredients as possible, to ensure our product’s quality and efficacy, and to back that up with first-class customer service. As an employee-owned company, it is dedicated to prosperity and generosity with a structure that supports a non-profit foundation and that offers people the opportunity to achieve their goals by sharing our products with others.

I run Life’s Abundance’s IT department. And I have more than 25 years in IT management, mainly network and system management, disaster recovery, and security.

The Challenge

Today, ransomware has rapidly become one of the most widespread and damaging causes of downtime and data loss for IT systems. It has captured the attention of the press and end users, with some pundits going so far as to call 2016 “the year of ransomware.”

Ransomware has become so prolific that it is no longer a question of if you are going to get hit with this type of malware, but simply a question of when. For users and organizations that are not prepared when ransomware attacks occur, there is little recourse.

Life’s Abundance recognized this risk and wanted to modernize its backup so we could move away from a cumbersome tape backup solution. Like many IT professionals, my time is extremely valuable, as I wear many hats and am the sole person responsible for IT administration and disaster recovery. Therefore it was imperative that the new solution be easy to use and able to protect a variety of servers and operating systems. Life’s Abundance primarily runs Windows 2012 R2 on a mix of physical servers and virtualized Hyper-V machines. A few critical Windows 2003 servers remain and needed backup, too. The company also relies heavily on SQL 2014 cluster implementation as our lifeline; that also requires the highest level of protection.

The Solution

After careful due diligence, me and my team selected the Unitrends Recovery 713 solution. Today, Unitrends’ physical appliance protects all of our servers and reduces the amount of time required to manage backup. The Recovery Series Appliance takes care of daily backups and works with the existing tape solution for secondary, off site backup.

With an eye on data growth and DR best practices, I am also considering a future move to the cloud for off-site backup. Since Unitrends supports a wide variety of cloud implementations, Life’s Abundance will be able to choose the cloud solution right for our business, without having to change our on-site backup. After using the Recovery 713 for three years, Life’s Abundance upgraded to the newer model, Recovery 714S, with solid state storage.

The Results

The Recovery Series appliance has been an ideal recovery solution for Life’s Abundance. As an example, and after installing Unitrends, Life’s Abundance had a ransomware attack where a user clicked a bad attachment, which shut down two workstations and many accessible file server shares. But within two hours we were fully operational again. After a quick analysis of where the problem was isolated to, we restored the encrypted files on the file servers and full system restores for the two affected workstations. If I was still using tapes, this would have taken two days minimum with the workstations taking the longest.

Charlie Scherker is the IT director at Life's Abundance.

Edited by Alicia Young