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City of Sarasota Sidesteps Cyber Attack and Avoids $34 Million in Ransom by Restoring Locked Files with Veeam

The Business Challenge

Modern cities offer innovative digital services to support economic growth and protect the safety and well-being of residents. Digital services make cities more attractive to entrepreneurs starting new businesses and to families wanting to live in safe and secure communities.

Sarasota understands the value of digital transformation. The city has been ranked number 15 on CNBC’s list of the top 20 American cities to start a business and number three on Gallup’s Well-being Index that compares the social well-being of 190 communities nationwide. Nearly every city service has a corresponding digital component, ranging from an online application for building permits, to crime mapping, to an emergency management website. Information on this site helps resident prepare for, respond to and recover from hurricanes and flooding. Sarasota is vulnerable to a variety of hazards that threaten the community, businesses and the environment.

“Our job is to help keep city services running all the time, particularly in the event of a crisis,” said Herminio Rodriguez, Sarasota’s director of IT.

To ensure all city services remain available nonstop, Sarasota decided to replace legacy backup.

“Legacy backup was unable to meet the city’s data integrity needs in any way, shape or form,” Rodriguez said. “Backup failed frequently, and not even our backup vendor could figure out why.”

After spending three days on the phone with the backup vendor, Rodriquez and his team downloaded a free trial of Veeam® Backup & Replication™. Within 30 minutes they configured Veeam and started the first backup job.

Sarasota replaced legacy backup with Veeam to keep city services running and support digital transformation of future city services. But, Veeam’s true test was yet to come. Ransomware was in the city’s future.

The Veeam Solution

A year later, cybercriminals attempted an attack on Sarasota. They encrypted three file servers that support city services and demanded $34 million in Bitcoin, an untraceable digital currency. Rather than risk city services, Sarasota recovered the file servers with Veeam. Not one city service or resident was impacted.

“Instead of paying an outrageous ransom that no city could afford, we recovered our file servers from Veeam backups,” Rodriguez said. “If we hadn’t been able to recover them, we would have had massive data loss affecting all facets of the city and ultimately, it would have impacted our citizens.”

In addition to protecting city services and thwarting cyberattacks, Veeam enables Sarasota to do two things not possible with legacy backup: guarantee business continuity and follow the 3-2-1 Rule.

“For the first time, we can tell our city commissioners that business continuity is absolute,” Rodriguez said. “Our backups are reliable, and recovery is fast. We finally found a solution that meets the city’s data integrity needs. Veeam will be part of the city’s lifeblood forever.”

Sarasota follows the 3-2-1 Rule by maintaining three backups on two different media, with one copy off-premises. Prior to Veeam, backups went to tape only. Now Veeam backs up 40 TB across 120 VMware vSphere virtual machines in the city’s primary data center to Dell EMC Data Domain storage in the secondary data center. Veeam also copies backups to tape, giving the city two different media.

Veeam does one more thing for Sarasota: It simplifies demonstration of data compliance during annual audits. A feature called SureBackup® verifies the recoverability of every backup and another feature called Instant VM Recovery® restores data in minutes.

“Veeam helps us demonstrate data compliance very quickly, enabling us to spend more time ensuring the digital components of city services are meeting the needs of our residents,” Rodriguez said.

The Results

  • Ensures city services are available to residents nonstop
    Not even ransomware could stop Veeam from delivering Sarasota’s city services. Not a single service or resident was impacted because Veeam recovered all data.
  • Guarantees business continuity for the first time in city history
    Legacy backup failed frequently, putting delivery of city services at risk. Veeam verifies the recoverability of every backup (SureBackup) and restores from backups in minutes (Instant VM Recovery), making business continuity a certainty.
  • Meets the city’s data integrity requirements during audits
    Veeam is the only data protection solution that meets Sarasota’s data integrity needs, simplifies data compliance during annual audits and enables the city to follow the 3-2-1 Rule.
City of Sarasota
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Company:

Sarasota is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, just south of Tampa. Known for rich cultural arts venues, miles of beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets, Sarasota is a city where urban amenities meet small-town living. The city employs 850 people and is home to 55,000 residents.

Challenge:

Residents expect city services to be available online, so Sarasota created digital components for nearly every one. However, city services are only valuable to residents if they’re available around the clock, especially in times of crisis, and Sarasota is vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding. The challenge was legacy backup. It failed frequently, putting city services in jeopardy.

Results:

  • Ensures city services are available to residents nonstop
  • Guarantees business continuity for the first time in city history
  • Meets the city’s data integrity requirements during audits
City of Sarasota
Please rate how helpful this article was to you:
4.9 out of 5 based on 14 ratings
Thank you for helping us improve!
An error occurred during voting. Please try again later.