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Eastern Ontario Health Unit is immune to ransomware with Veeam and HostedBizz
Ransomware infected and encrypted our entire on-prem IT infrastructure, including backups. HostedBizz performed DRaaS using Veeam replicas, and our critical systems were up and running in under two hours.
Joanne Porporo
Manager of IT and Physical Resources
Eastern Ontario Health Unit

The business challenges

For more than 80 years, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has been a leader in delivering forward-thinking, community-focused public health services. EOHU’s achievements are driven by a compassionate team of employees focused on improving and safeguarding the health and quality of life for the region’s residents.

EOHU provides a diverse set of services. They include prenatal classes, immunization clinics, smoking cessation courses and health inspections to confirm food is stored, prepared and served safely in places such as restaurants, cafeterias, nurseries and long-term care homes. EOHU also offers a vast online library of videos and public service announcements covering dozens of topics. It’s one of the only public health agencies in North America with in-house broadcast and multimedia production facilities.

Several IT systems support EOHU’s services. OnBase manages client documents, Hedgehog compiles food-safety inspection reports and Vzaar supports video production. Protecting these systems is critical to residents’ health and wellness, and keeping residents’ information private is paramount to maintaining compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). When EOHU’s legacy backup solution (Barracuda) failed to recover systems fast enough during disaster recovery (DR) testing, the IT team contacted Zycom, its trusted technology consultant.

“Barracuda’s backup-to-cloud capabilities weren’t as robust as we would have liked,” said Nicholas Chartrand, Senior Systems Support Officer at EOHU. “We wanted the ability to flip a switch and be up and running fast.”

Joanne Porporo, Manager of IT and Physical Resources at EOHU, said the IT team had additional requirements.

“The new solution had to be affordable and ensure data never leaves Canada,” she said.

“It’s not easy finding a cost-effective solution that guarantees data sovereignty.”

EOHU contacted Zycom, its trusted IT advisor, and Zycom suggested Veeam® Backup & Replication™ and HostedBizz, a leading Canadian cloud provider (and a Platinum Veeam Cloud Service Provider). The timing was fortuitous. Less than one year later, EOHU’s IT infrastructure was attacked by Ryuk, a ransomware virus that infiltrates systems and encrypts stored data, making it unusable.

The Veeam solution

Veeam and HostedBizz sidestepped the ransomware attack, and EOHU resumed critical operations within two hours. Veeam and HostedBizz strengthen disaster preparedness, reduce backup costs by 35%, ensure data sovereignty and support compliance with PIPEDA and PHIPA.

Here’s how: EOHU uses Veeam to back up 10 TB across 25 virtual machines on-premises and send backup copies to HostedBizz’s private cloud, enabling Backup as a Service (BaaS). HostedBizz replicates backups in its cloud, enabling Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).

“Ransomware infected and encrypted our entire on-prem IT infrastructure, including backups,” Porporo said. “HostedBizz performed DRaaS using Veeam replicas, and our critical systems were up and running in under two hours. Recovery would have taken at least a week with legacy backup, making it difficult to deliver public health services.”

Staff would done have their best to carry on with classes, clinics, courses and restaurant inspections if critical IT systems weren’t available for a week, but they’d have had to resort to pen and paper, which defeats the purpose of technology. However, technology reigned supreme, and EOHU was able to provide public health services without interruption. IT operations continued in HostedBizz’s Cloud for 30 days while Porporo and Chartrand determined how to best rebuild the on-prem environment.

“We needed to make sure the virus had been completely eradicated before bringing our servers back on-premises, and we needed to test the network reconfiguration HostedBizz had helped us build for added security,” Chartrand said. “We replicated our servers back to our site in less than an hour, and we’ve been going strong ever since.”

HostedBizz data centers are 100% Canadian-owned and operated. Data centers reside in Canada only, which guarantees geographic redundancy and data sovereignty.

“The fact that the Veeam-HostedBizz solution is a Canadian solution is noteworthy,” Porporo said. “This enables us to comply with federal and provincial data protection statutes like PIPEDA and PHIPA.”

Chartrand said the Veeam-HostedBizz solution is also more cost-effective than legacy backup.

Veeam and HostedBizz pricing was much more affordable than Barracuda pricing. “Veeam and HostedBizz save us 35% in backup costs and help us take disaster preparedness to a new level.”

The results

  • Restores critical operations within two hours of a ransomware attack
    Cybercrime is a serious concern among healthcare organizations, so EOHU adopted a stronger DR strategy enabling the IT team to recover data faster and easier.
  • Strengthens disaster preparedness and reduces backup costs by 35%
    “Our goal was to flip a switch and be up and running,” Chartrand said. “Veeam and HostedBizz make that possible.”
  • Ensures data sovereignty and supports PIPEDA and PHIPA compliance
    EOHU’s data stays in Canada with Veeam and HostedBizz, guaranteeing georedundancy and regulatory compliance.

Company:


The Eastern Ontario Health Unit promotes and protects the health and wellness of more than 200,000 Canadians in 15 municipalities across 5,000 square kilometers. Founded in 1935, the organization employs approximately 250 people in six locations.

Challenge:


The healthcare industry is a prime target for cybercriminals. Ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations quadrupled between 2017 and 2020 and are expected to increase five times more by the end of 2021. Eastern Ontario Health Unit recognized this threat and acted fast. In an effort to bolster its DR strategy, the IT team replaced Barracuda. Less than one year later, the team dodged a ransomware attack that could have knocked the organization offline for at least one week, making it difficult to deliver public health services.

Results:

  • Restores critical operations within two hours of a ransomware attack
  • Strengthens disaster preparedness and reduces backup costs by 35%
  • Ensures data sovereignty and supports PIPEDA and PHIPA compliance