If you want to understand how Object Lock immutability works, think of a valuable necklace sitting behind a window. If someone really wants that necklace, they will find a way to break that window. Reinforce the glass, add a silent alarm, none of it will change the fact that thieves can find a way.
With Object Lock immutability, there is no window. Instead, picture a fully realistic holographic representation of the necklace. You can still see your necklace, you can still enjoy its sparkle, but nothing anyone does to that hologram can alter the actual physical necklace.
Object Lock immutability works in a similar fashion, at least metaphorically speaking. (Object Lock doesn’t create a facsimile, per se, but it does protect objects from being manipulated, copied, encrypted, changed, or deleted for as long as the lock is set.) And it protects something far more valuable than some trinket: It protects your data.
In this post, learn about five different ways you can use Object Lock as well as some tips for using Object Lock effectively.
What Is Object Lock Immutability?
In functional programming, immutability is a characteristic of an object whose state cannot be changed after it has been created. Conversely, mutable objects are variable. But what does all that mean when it comes to Object Lock? By creating a model in which an individual object (i.e., a unit of data that contains all of the bytes that constitute what you would typically think of as a “file”) remains static and unchangeable, Object Lock immutability prevents important files from being deleted, corrupted, or otherwise damaged. Your files can, however, be freely accessed, giving you free rein to view important documents. This Write Once, Read Many (WORM) model is the cornerstone of Object Lock immutability.
Those of us above a certain age may recall the days when data was regularly transferred via floppy disc. Back in those dark days of dial-up, there was a simple plastic switch on each floppy disc that marked the disc as read-only or read-and-write. If the switch was flipped, the data on the disc could be read or transferred at will, but it was a one-way street. You were unable to alter the original data stored on the disc.
Object Lock Immutability serves the same function as that plastic switch, only it operates entirely within the code of your storage software. You can view, share, and open files at will. But the contents of that file cannot be changed.
Object Lock Immutability Use Cases
With the right approach, Object Lock immutability can be used to solve a few problems, including:
- Aiding recovery from ransomware attacks.
- Migrating from an LTO tape system.
- Supporting records retention requirements.
- Protecting your company during lawsuits.
- Enhancing version control during software development.
Aid Recovery From Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks are a major challenge for many businesses. In our research on the true cost of ransomware, we found that the cost of these incidents can exceed $1 million! That’s the bad news.
The good news is advanced planning can make it easier to recover from attacks. Specifically, preserving data backups with Object Lock is a helpful way to speed up your recovery from ransomware attacks. For example, you might decide to make daily backups of your most critical files and retain those backups for three months. In this case, you would have plenty of options for how to recover from an attack.
To achieve consistent security protection, we recommend integrating Object Lock into your IT security policy. For further guidance on how to do this, see our post, “How to Add Object Lock to Your IT Security Policy.”
Migrating From an LTO Tape System
Until recently, the most common way to protect data from being overwritten, corrupted, or deleted was by creating an “air gap” by way of LTO tapes. Under this system, sensitive files would be backed up to a tape and then physically removed from the drive. This created an effective shield of literal, physical air around the data by removing it entirely from your network, but it came at a cost.
Tape systems require an up-front investment and require ongoing maintenance, management, and eventual replacement. With Object Lock immutability as part of your cloud backup solution, the entire process of creating an air gap happens virtually, saving time and money while accomplishing the same goal. You can calculate the savings between cloud storage and tape yourself.
Support Records Retention Requirements
Your company probably has a variety of records retention requirements to fulfill. For example, the finance department likely has to retain records in case you are audited by tax authorities. In addition, your contracts with customers may expect you to retain records for a specific project for a set period. Once you determine which records need to be retained, Object Lock can preserve the records so they cannot be modified or deleted for the required duration. Object Lock means accidental deletion of records is much less likely.
Protect the Company’s Interests During Lawsuits
Lawsuits and disputes are a fact of life in today’s environment, but there are steps you can take to reduce the impact and expense associated with them.
By applying Object Lock, your company will be better able to navigate the challenges of a lawsuit. You can focus on the substance of the dispute rather than spending endless hours answering questions about your data integrity.
Enhance Version Control During Software Development
New versions of files are created on a nearly constant basis during software development projects. Some software projects release new versions every day or every week. With many different software versions on your plate, there is a risk your team might get disorganized. Now, imagine if a new release of your software ends up having a serious security or performance flaw. In that case, rolling back to the previous version may save a tremendous amount of time and energy.
By using Object Lock on previous versions of your software, you can have confidence in your ability to access previous versions. For companies that produce custom software for clients, enhancing version control through Object Lock may be helpful for other reasons. In the event of a problem, a client might ask for access to earlier versions of the software. Preserving earlier versions of your software development with Object Lock makes it easier to respond to such requests.
Tips for Using Object Lock Immutability Effectively
As with any technology, achieving optimal results from Object Lock requires a thoughtful, guided approach. From a technical standpoint, there is no limit to how much data you can protect with Object Lock. However, excessive use of Object Lock may consume a significant amount of your data storage resources, negating any time and cost savings you’ve achieved.
Altering the amount of time an object is placed in Object Lock is just one way to ensure you’re getting the most out of this technology. Others include:
- Reviewing Older Object Lock Files: You might find that you rarely need to access Object Lock-protected data that is older than six months. Obviously, this amount of time will vary greatly depending on your needs, but it’s important to make sure you’re not spending resources protecting files that don’t need the extra protection. Depending on what you find, you may want to adjust guidance to employees accordingly.
- Ensuring Consistency: To achieve more consistent usage of Object Lock immutability, start by clarifying your expectations in a company policy. This could be as simple as a checklist document explaining when and how to use Object Lock or an appendix to your IT security policy. In addition, ask managers to periodically review (e.g., every six months) how Object Lock is used in their departments and provide feedback to employees as needed.
As a concept, Object Lock immutability is fairly easy to understand and even easier to use in protecting your vital data from incursion, corruption or deletion. Beyond simply protecting valuable data from cyber threats, it can create a clear timeline in case of litigation or simplify complicated development projects. By understanding how this tool works and how best to use it, you can secure your data, increase your efficiency, and improve the operation of your cloud storage.