Companies Return to Tape As Protection From Cyberattacks

The federal government, financial service companies, and other regulated industries store their most important data on tape, an old-fashioned and inconvenient format that is, nonetheless, impervious to hackers. As cyberattacks become more skillful and persistent, other companies are now following suit. Starting in the 1950s, digital tape, stored in on-site libraries, was the only means of reliable storage for massive amounts of data. Eventually, companies moved to digital records and, in recent years, the cloud.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “some security experts and tape users argue that the medium has big advantages over other forms of storage — including a higher reliability rate than hard drives and a lifespan in excess of 30 years,” with a “total cost of ownership per terabyte … also the lowest of any storage medium.” Tapes can also store up to 15 TBs and “be archived in third-party locations at a fraction of the cost of cheapest cloud storage.”

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“Tape is our main form of backup and recovery” said insurance company PDP exec Rick Heisey. “We remain confident that tape will continue to be the most reliable and cost-effective means of protecting our company data.”

The tapes are encrypted, but “can be easily retrieved and the data easily restored when required.” Recovery Point Systems founder/president Marc Langer notes that tape can be a “safe choice.” “Most people are looking for convenience and the cloud is convenient,” he said. “Tape isn’t inefficient or ineffective, but it can be inconvenient. Good security is almost always inconvenient.”

TechRepublic states that Kaspersky Lab and B2B International have issued a report that says “the total impact of a data breach now amounts to $1.3 million for large companies — up from $1.2 million in 2016.” The report also stated that, “breaches cost an average of $117,000 per incident for small- and medium-sized businesses.”