#1 Global Leader in Data Resilience

Veeam keeps patient data safe from ransomware at South Georgia Medical Center

As a CIO, I have one less thing to worry about knowing that our data is safely backed up with Veeam.
Chuck Marshburn
CIO and HIPAA Security Officer
South Georgia Medical Center

The business challenges

SGMC is committed to customer-centered, competent, compassionate and cost-effective care.

Each year, approximately 400,000 people visit the organization’s four hospitals, five primary care practices and 22 specialty care offices. They choose SGMC because it employs top-notch healthcare providers using bestin- class technology to diagnose and treat patients. People also trust SGMC to keep their data safe and secure.

Protecting patient data is an ongoing challenge for organizations like SGMC because cybercriminals are more successful at encrypting data in the healthcare industry than any other. More than a third of healthcare organizations surveyed globally in 2020 experienced a ransomware attack, and 65% of them reported data encryption compared to 54% in other industries. Those that paid ransom retrieved 69% of their data, but the rest was inaccessible.

“We know of too many healthcare organizations that paid exorbitant ransoms, but only a portion of their data, which was compromised, was returned,” said Chuck Marshburn, CIO and HIPAA Security Officer at SGMC. “We decided to take a proactive approach to ransomware protection by increasing security measures already in place.”

Matt Elsberry, System Administrator at SGMC, said the first step was to replace Commvault. At the time, the legacy backup solution didn’t offer encryption or immutability. The IT team was also concerned about Commvault’s reliability, scalability and workload portability.

“We considered AppAssure as a replacement, but we also did a lot of independent research, and it all pointed to Veeam,” Elsberry said. “No vendor has a reputation like Veeam, and now we know why.”

The Veeam solution

Veeam strengthens SGMC’s ransomware protection with backup encryption and immutability. Veeam also recovers diagnostic data quickly to expedite patient care, and it complements the Microsoft 365 Litigation Hold to meet legal compliance.

“Our healthcare professionals require immediate access to data so they can provide exceptional patient-centered care, including data supporting digital prescriptions, imaging and patient monitoring,” Marshburn said. “Veeam protects this data, so if we experience a ransomware attack, we know we can retrieve it quickly, resume care and avoid a costly ransom payment.”

One of the newer patient monitoring systems is called AngelEye. Livestreaming video lets families check on their babies 24/7, including at-risk babies in the neonatal care unit.

“This kind of virtual technology is so important, especially during COVID-19,” Elsberry said. “It keeps families connected in the most critical of moments. Veeam helps us make sure the data supporting AngelEye is backed up safely and securely.”

Veeam Availability Suite backs up and encrypts more than 500 TB across 430 Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines and 20 physical machines to a hardened Linux storage repository, making backups immutable. Veeam also replicates to Microsoft Azure Blob Storage via Veeam Scale-out Backup Repository (SOBR), an automatic tiering feature that supports the 3-2-1-1-0 Rule (3 different copies of data on 2 different media with 1 copy offsite and 1 copy that is air-gapped, immutable or offline and 0 backup recovery errors).

“SOBR has been a godsend because it lets us follow the 3-2-1-1-0 rule,” Elsberry said. “Commvault didn’t offer a cloud tiering feature at the time we used it.”

Elsberry said Commvault didn’t offer an easy way to migrate from VMware vSphere to Microsoft Hyper-V either. The IT team opted for Hyper-V to save on licensing fees.

“Migrating with Veeam was fast, simple and cost-effective, saving our organization $140,000 in virtual machine licensing fees,” he explained. “Veeam licensing is great too. We chose the Universal License because it’s transferrable and protects all workloads, whether they’re on-premises or in the cloud.”

Elsberry said he also appreciates Veeam certification. There are two types: Veeam Certified Architect (VMCA) and Veeam Certified Engineer (VMCE), which he chose.

“Veeam is serious about making sure customers get the most out of every solution, and certification is a great example,” he said. “I learned so much, including how scalable Veeam can be by adding data movers and replication proxies. Our sales rep is another great example. She reaches out often to see how we’re doing. During one of our conversations, I mentioned the Microsoft Litigation Hold we have for Microsoft Exchange Online, and the expense involved, so she told us about Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365.”

Like many healthcare organizations, SGMC deployed Microsoft 365 for employee collaboration and assumed backup was Microsoft’s responsibility. Since it is SGMC’s responsibility, Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 backs up 18 TB used by 3,500 employees (mailboxes, files and documents) to Azure Blob. By maintaining access and control of data, Veeam protects against accidental deletion, security threats and retention-policy gaps.

“Veeam complements our Microsoft Litigation Hold,” Elsberry said. “It provides an easily accessible backup copy of our emails, so retrieving them for legal compliance is straightforward and fast. We use the same granular recovery tools we use in Veeam Availability Suite — the Veeam Explorers, which are also a godsend. Veeam recovery is amazingly simple.”

The results

  • Recovers imaging and diagnostic data quickly to expedite patient care
    Veeam ensures data is protected and available on premises and in the cloud, so SGMC can overcome any cyberthreat and recover with confidence. “We’re very pleased with the value Veeam provides,” Marshburn said. “Deployment was painless, and it’s easy to use. As a CIO, I have one less thing to worry about knowing that our data is safely backed up.”
  • Protects data from ransomware through encryption and immutability
    “Veeam is an unsung hero in our organization because it protects the data supporting patient care,” Elsberry said.
  • Complements the Microsoft 365 Litigation Hold to meet legal compliance
    Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 ensures data is protected and accessible. The IT team uses eDiscovery to search archives and recover exactly what is needed.


South Georgia Medical Center (SGMC) is a not-forprofit organization dedicated to improving the health, wellness and quality of life in communities throughout southern Georgia and northern Florida. Founded in 1955, SGMC employs 3,500 people and is recognized locally, statewide and nationally for providing exceptional patient care.


Protecting patient data in the age of ransomware is an ongoing challenge for many healthcare organizations, so SGMC took a proactive approach by increasing security measures already in place.


  • Protects data from ransomware through encryption and immutability
  • Recovers imaging and diagnostic data quickly to expedite patient care
  • Complements the Microsoft 365 Litigation Hold to meet legal compliance