Sudharsan A, Hitachi Exclusive on Cybersecurity Awareness Month

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Talking to TimesTech, Sudharsan Aravamuthan, APAC Solution Lead for Content and Data Intelligence solutions, Hitachi Vantara takes us through a tech-tour protracting across their leadership in the cyber-space and also hyphens commemorating October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month in this below edited excerpts.

TimesTech: Kindly take us through a TECH-TOUR of your key offerings and few services and solutions tailored specifically for the Indian market?

Sudharsan: Hitachi Vantara is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., bringing a cost-effective path for enterprises with its internet of things (IoT), data storage and analytics, DataOps, data protection, video intelligence, and IT operation management. We provide digital infrastructure solutions (from core to edge to cloud-based solutions) as well as digital solutions/services catering to various sectors. Our product portfolio can be understood based on the SEAM model described below:

  • Store – Store, Manage and Protect the data at the lowest cost at the right service levels across edge, private, hybrid and multi-cloud solutions, for both structured and unstructured data.
  • Enrich – Enrich data with metadata classifications and cataloguing that provide context for intelligent data management and governance.
  • Activate – Discover, Integrate and orchestrate enterprise data assets and leverage analytics to generate actionable insights for every enterprise interaction and application.
  • Monetize – Deliver outcomes that capture the full economic value of all the data inside our customers enterprise and beyond.

TimesTech: This year, given the post-pandemic where digital came as a saviour, how important will be this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, i.e. October for HITACHI VANTARA. Any key initiatives you want to underline?

Sudharsan: Cybersecurity has been a focus area for us throughout, but it has gained more importance since the pandemic with people working virtually and the rise in ransomware attacks across organisations. We follow a targeted approach of evaluating our entire portfolio to see how our customers can secure their data through our solutions and evolve an effective anti-ransomware strategy.

We are also leveraging our partnerships with various ISVs in one such scenario we were the first vendor to certify object lock capability with a particular backup vendor for our object storage platform that provides a repository where immutable backups can be stored.

We are conducting workshops with our customers and are leveraging our centre of excellence to demonstrate key capabilities of our solution which will assist our customers in strengthening their cyber resiliency framework.

Within Hitachi Vantara our Enterprise Information Security team is running a cybersecurity awareness month, educating employees about protecting company and customer data, entertaining and informative format is being used to raise awareness across the organization.

TimesTech: Which sectors are getting more prone to cyber-attacks with the growing digital surge?

Sudharsan: There are no exceptions, all sectors that are undergoing digital transformation are and will continue to be prone to cyber-attacks. Crucial digital assets worth billions and trillions of dollars are bound to be targeted by cybercriminals, and today’s hackers are well organized and part of a larger syndicate. It’s not only organizations but all of us are directly or indirectly affected as well. Understanding the risk is key to formulating a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. For example, small and medium businesses are highly vulnerable as the attacks are random, unsophisticated and automated and often overwhelm the security apparatus of Small and Medium businesses. While with large organizations since the bounty is large, the attack is planned for many months, countermeasures are developed, and attackers will constantly change their Tactics, Techniques and Procedures. So all organizations need to be prepared and have a strong contingency plan.

TimesTech: How can enterprises leverage the Benefits of Object Storage to fight against ransomware?

Sudharsan: Object storage platforms have become very prominent in the customer’s evolving IT landscape, they are being increasingly adopted to modernize the unstructured data which continues to rise exponentially and is the majority of the type of data set in a customer’s environment.

The Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio from Hitachi offers organizations of all sizes a solution that secures the entire data centre. Hitachi Content Platform is one of the most secure object stores in the industry, and its versioning capabilities enrich and complement any existing ransomware strategy. We can further enhance the role of object storage by enabling various use cases such as modernizing remote office branch office, enabling secure on-premise enterprise file sync and share, and we can further enhance governance by bringing analytics to the data such as searching, indexing, aggregating and enrichment of metadata.

TimesTech: Effective ransomware strategies for enterprises to follow? This year, ransomware attacks disrupted schools, healthcare organizations, fuel pipelines, food suppliers, and several organizations, often resulting in disruptions that have impacted public health, the supply chain, and national and economic safety and security. Being one of the security enablers and leaders, your services and solutions to shield these growing security breaches?

Sudharsan: An effective ransomware strategy is always multi-fold. Protect your networks, edge devices and ensure that you have a complete anti-ransomware strategy in place.

It is not just about the prevention of ransomware attacks but also preparing for recovery from a potential ransomware attack.

For structured data, we have solutions as part of primary storage that can take frequent snapshots and clones. We have a data retention utility tool, which allows policies (such as allowing read-only access, denying read and write access, etc.) to be set.

These snapshots and clones can be stored in air-gapped secondary storage and the entire process can be automated.

With unstructured data (usually the majority of the organization’s data), we have solutions that start from the edge and extend into the cloud. As explained previously Hitachi Content Platform is one of the most secure object stores in the industry, With HCP, content is continually checked throughout its retention period for integrity, with proactive data repair. Furthermore, deletions or accidental changes before a file retention period expires are prevented by object versioning protection, which also provides a history of how the data has changed over time.

In the event you decide to send data into the cloud, HCP’s encryption capabilities ensure that the data stays protected before, during and after its journey.

HCP Anywhere’s Enterprise File Sync and Share capabilities limit data loss in the event of a ransomware attack, by rolling back to the latest version of any file. End users are not limited to the version linked with the latest backup.

HCP Anywhere edge file services deliver centralized data protection management and reporting across all of the different places where file services are delivered.

With Hitachi Content Intelligence we can automate the extraction, classification, enrichment and categorization of data residing on premise and in the cloud, and across heterogeneous data repositories (internal and external). This approach mitigates risk by improving data quality and discovery.

TimesTech: According to you what are the top Cyber Security trends for 2021?

Sudharsan: From the various analysts, we see that a few of the trends that are being widely spoken about are the attack surface has increased with data being spread across from core to edge to cloud, and also the rise of IT&OT such as modern vehicles which has given rise to automative hacking.

We will see increased adoption of AI/ML and Data center Automation to achieve cyber security goals.

The current hybrid working model is here to stay for a while. Mobility of the workforce continues to be a priority for organizations, therefore securing data and devices will continue to be a top priority. 

We have spoken about a few of these trends, but we need to ensure that cybersecurity defence is a cyclical process of evaluation and adaptation. At a high level, the following processes should be executed such as Inventory of the environment, Evaluating the risk profile, remediating where possible, incorporating penetration testing, reviewing current tools and architecture.

Reviewing the response plan such as containment, negotiation and mitigation, educating the workforce and contractors and establishing strong communication and policies. We are seeing ransomware attacks increase across the backup infrastructure to remove organizations ability to mitigate ransomware attack. Thus, ensuring backup immutability through object storage platforms, and evaluating recovery drills becomes all the more important.

TimesTech: Most organizations recognize vendor consolidation as an avenue for reduced costs and better security, with 80% of organizations interested in a vendor consolidation strategy. Large security vendors are responding with better-integrated products. However, consolidation is challenging and often takes years to roll out. Your thoughts on it.

The Cyber Resiliency Framework includes Identification of critical assets, protecting, detection, responding to a security breach, and recovery. No one vendor can complete the entire framework thus it becomes important to work in an eco-system and ensure that the solutions while providing inherent capability is able to integrate with the eco-system partners. For ex: we have great integration with leading backup vendors such as Commvault, Veeam, Veritas, etc. We integrate with leading encryption solutions. We have tested our EFSS solution, HCP-AW with leading anti-virus ISV’s. We have integration with MDM solutions. Our Content Portfolio has 100+ independent software vendor (ISV) applications and hardware integration and interoperability testing done to date.

TimesTech: HITACHI VANTARA’s focus and key strategies for the indigenous demand in the changing digital landscape?

Sudharsan: The past year has seen a rapid rise in digitalisation across Indian enterprises. We are focusing on being reliable partners in their accelerated path to adoption of hybrid and multi-cloud solutions, strengthening their digital resiliency, we are helping customers accelerate innovation with data management solutions, with a focus around AI, analytics, and data integration. This month we have made very important announcements around outlining our vision for hybrid cloud data storage and outlined the steps we are taking towards extending our capabilities to deliver a distributed hybrid cloud data fabric.

We have introduced new storage systems for small and medium enterprises while strengthening our flagship systems by expanding its enterprise-class features.

We introduced Hitachi Modern Storage Assurance which additionally provides seamless upgrades to the next generation storage (VSP) technology and can be availed through EverFlex. EverFlex is Hitachi Vantara’s as-a-service offering that allows our customers to consume hardware, software and Services through a pay-per-use consumption model. Lastly, we have also announced great improvements in our Content portfolio, with improving object storage performance, where customers can on-board Tier 1 workloads and we have gained new capabilities with solutions such as Hitachi Content for File, which provides ultra-high-performance, and low latency, multi-protocol access at massive scales for the next-generation workloads.