Be Prepared When Ransomware Attacks Strike

While ransomware attacks are certainly nothing new, a recent report indicates that such incidents have increased more than 360% year-over-year in the first half of 2019. In addition to businesses and individuals, more and more cyberattacks are targeting local governments in several states, including  Maryland, Michigan, Florida, Indiana and the recent attacks on 23 Texas towns.

These attacks not only cause disruptions and inconvenience, but cost millions in recovery and restoration efforts, loss of revenue, decreased productivity and reduced levels of customer service. Ransomware and other cyberattacks will probably never be eliminated completely, but organizations can mitigate the negative effects of an attack and be prepared before one occurs.

Being Prepared Before an Attack

Here are a few recommended steps that businesses and other organizations should consider before and after an attack.

  • With the help of a security expert, conduct a “health check” on your systems to identify any vulnerabilities. Consider both external attacks as well as internal breaches (intentional or not).
  • Keep backup data off premise, both physically and logically away from production data.
  • Ensure that all systems used for backing up data have the latest software patches, follow protocols and can detect ransomware.
  • Reduce the complexity of having multiple systems by consolidating backup data from all systems—disaster recovery, applications and cloud systems.

Education and communication also play an important part in cyberattacks. Makes sure all end users are educated about security protocols, including not falling for spoofing attacks. If a ransomware or other attack does occur, communication with all stakeholders—employees, partners and customers—is a critical step. Mitigating anxiety and alleviating fear through ongoing communication help make things go more smoothly during the recovery process.

Once an attack occurs, acting quickly will be critical as well. Hire a professional with experience to help you make the right business decisions regarding recovery efforts based on the amount of time it will take, cost considerations and what losses are occurring.

Expertise in Data Backup and Recovery Solutions

NEC, with our experience and expertise in data backup, business continuity planning and recovery solutions, can be a powerful ally in mitigating risks prior to an attack and enabling faster recovery should an attack occur.

NEC delivers Backup as a Service (BaaS) by providing a suite of off-site data backup services. Our BaaS solutions range from ensuring that systems are up-to-date to providing secure targets, which can optionally move data to and from tape storage. Our staff is fully trained on a range of backup systems and can ensure that data is backed up locally and off-premise.

As the first technology infrastructure provider to join Iron Mountain’s Data Center Marketplace, we offer protection and accessibility through infrastructure built to our specifications and made available at Iron Mountain’s secure, compliant and energy efficient above-ground and underground data centers.

In order to optimally address a wide range of customer requirements, NEC offers a suite of BaaS deployment options:

  • Customers with data stored in public clouds, and with highly dispersed systems, often require a fully managed backup solution, with backups performed at the application and bare metal/VM level. Once notified of a ransomware attack, it’s important to scan backups to detect any malware (not just ransomware) so that the system will not be re-infected when restoring from backups prior to the incident. Examining ransomware-encrypted data upfront will help prevent overwriting old “clean” data inside the backup. NEC uses industry leading agents to isolate and not transfer ransomware-encrypted data from any client/server locations. This action is performed to ensure data integrity prior to storage and to alert customers of any intrusion.
  • NEC also provides physical and virtual backup appliances deployed on premise for customers with: a requirement for local storage; a large amount of servers or data and a need for a fully managed backup solution. Through this option, application and bare metal/VM-level backups are stored locally and analyzed for ransomware prior to deduplication, compression, encryption and secure transmission to NEC.
  • Other customers use their own backup software and have strict backup time windows that require the highest performance data backup ingestion. For them, NEC offers an upgraded BaaS Appliance using our HYDRAstor platform. This platform provides the highest ingestion and deduplication performance and delivers highly secure replication to NEC HYDRAstor systems located at Iron Mountain. NEC offers ransomware detection services based on the customer’s specific policies and landscape.
  • For customers that use their own backup software, but don’t require high performance, NEC offers the HYDRAstor Virtual Appliance (HSVA). The HSVA runs in a virtual machine and acts as a backup target for a customer’s own infrastructure. It deduplicates using localized NEC HYDRAstor technology before encrypting data for transfer to NEC HYDRAstor at Iron Mountain. NEC offers ransomware detection services based on the client’s specific policies and landscape.
  • Sometimes customers prefer to push data to tape using industry standards. NEC, in collaboration with Iron Mountain, offers tape restoration and long-term retention services for all the services listed above.

Providing Protection from Both Outside and Inside Threats

Dedicated NEC-based infrastructure is built according to best practices for redundancy and security. Ensuring that data backup systems and storage are off site reduces access to these critical systems by both hackers and insiders. For a reasonable monthly fee, NEC offers low total-cost-of-ownership BaaS that provides:

  • Industry Leading Backup Agents
  • Secure off-site data storage
  • Disaster recovery for 24/7 business continuity
  • Value Added Services
  • On-Premise Appliance Options

For a complimentary Backup Assessment, fill out the form below.

Learn more about NEC’s back up, recovery and business continuity offerings and download the white paper.

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Biometrics are Revolutionizing Airports and the Passenger Experience

The airport travel experience has remained constant for a LONG time. For many of us, words like “unpredictable,” “slow,” and “frustrating” immediately come to mind. I spend a lot of time in airports, and can personally affirm that the international pursuit of innovation within the aviation industry could not be more obvious or focused than it is right now.


Your usual experience: arrive at the airport, wait in a line to get your ticket, wait in a line for security, then wait in a line to board your plane—and until just a few years ago, this was generally the case. However, as other fields have proven the advantages of certain technologies, applications to and acceptance by commercial aviation has become more and more apparent. Biometric solutions have especially begun revolutionizing the airport experience for all stakeholders involved – travelers, airlines, airport operations, vendors, government, and law enforcement.


About five years ago, biometrics did the same for the mobile device industry—and before that, fingerprints were only associated with law enforcement. Today, fingerprints have become ubiquitous as a quick and easy replacement for our passwords, allowing us to unlock everything from our phones to our bank accounts, with a single press. The ease of use has made life a lot simpler for users, and a lot more secure for providers.


That same convenience and security is now being brought to the airport environment, by leveraging all the technological innovations that have been produced over the last ten years.


In fact, at the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Airport Innovation Forum this year, our session was “Know Your Customer: Leveraging Personalization and Innovation in the Passenger Experience”, and focused on how airports around the world are engaging with new and innovative solutions that bring the real benefits of self-service and automation to modernize the airport experience for everyone.


During the 2019 AAAE Airport Innovation forum in Chicago, many speakers got up on stage to show how technology is revolutionizing the airport. From self-driving vehicles to optimization of back office operations, to facial recognition and analytics that reduce wait times using dynamic content displays, a digital transformation in the aviation environment is definitely under way. And an important priority has universally taken shape: how to make travelers safer and the customer experience more convenient throughout the aviation journey—everything from check-in, bag-checks and security to airport shopping.


Security is, of course, of the utmost importance, and rightly so–even though it often has a negative impact on the traveler experience. We know the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are working daily (and nightly!) to keep our skies safe, which is why biometrics is so important to the security process. Having the ability to instantly verify that secure documents are valid and do match the identity and confirmed reservation of the traveler ensures that only vetted passengers arrive on the other side of that security line. Biometric security enhancements actually serve a dual purpose; not only are biometrics more accurate at screening individuals, they also move lines along faster. By bringing automation to necessary processes–that can then be optimized and become more predictable, this creates a better airport experience for everyone.


With the ability to predict wait times, passengers are able to spend more time doing what they choose, from relaxing in the lounge, to visiting duty-free shops (as biometrics also lets you “pay with your face”!).

The Fate of Airport Customer Service Isn’t Terminal from InteractiveNEC

Big change cannot be driven solely by the technology, though, which means leadership events like the AAAE Airport Innovation Forum are extremely important. More collaboration amongst industry stakeholders is critical to the success of the digital revolution in commercial aviation, for real change that is predicated on thoughtful policy and implementation, careful execution, and effective change management.


This paradigm shift is being driven by a recent realization by all stakeholders that, in fact, there is a common goal – digital transformation, for a better customer experience, improved commerce, cost and time savings, optimized security and smoother airport operations.


Next time you’re at the airport, think about how biometrics is, or could be, reducing the burden on airport operations, and making your life more secure.

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Star Alliance and NEC are Bringing a Seamless Passenger Experience to Member Airlines

Congratulations are in order for the Star Alliance and NEC Corporation, which inked a deal earlier today to co-develop a biometric data-based identification platform to streamline the passenger experience in airports where member airlines operate. 

We’ll be looking forward to tracking this story as the project moves ahead over the coming months!

Star Alliance and NEC Corporation Sign Partnership Agreement to Enhance Passenger Experience through Biometric Data Recognition Technology

Frankfurt, Germany – July 26th, 2019 – Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, and NEC Corporation, global leader in IT, network and biometric technologies, today signed a partnership agreement to develop a biometric data-based identification platform that will significantly improve the travel experience for frequent flyer program customers of Star Alliance member airlines.

The interoperable platform advances the Star Alliance and NEC strategic vision of delivering a seamless customer journey, while strengthening loyalty value proposition within the travel ecosystem.

Once implemented, Star Alliance customers who opt-in to biometrics will have a seamless and hands-free passenger experience, allowing them to pass through curb-to-gate touchpoints within airports, such as check-in kiosks, bag-drop, lounges, and boarding gates, which traditionally require both a passport and boarding pass, by using a secure identity management solution featuring facial recognition technology.

Seamless aviation from Star Alliance and NEC.

Moreover, the platform will help airports and the Star Alliance member airlines to increase operational efficiency.

The service will be available to customers who are enrolled in one of the Star Alliance frequent flyer programs and who have authorized the use of their biometric data.

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Five Themes from connect:ID 2019

Originally co-founded just six short years ago by the International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) and Science Media Partners, connect:ID aimed to create the world’s preeminent identity technology conference and exposition. This year’s show proves that connect:ID still has mass appeal!

The connect:ID 2019 event, held from April 29 to May 1 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., brought together more than 1,500 attendees and 150 speakers from government, commercial and technical arenas to discuss a wide variety of topics related to identity and related technologies used for recognition, authentication, customer experience, and digital transformation.

A number of overarching themes and topics emerged this year, and I’ve decided to outline the top five or so that I observed.

  1. Collaboration at the federal level was apparent. A fireside chat hosted by IBIA Executive Director Tovah LaDier with two senior program leaders from within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – John Wagner from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Stacey Fitzmaurice from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – outlined how they are using facial recognition to create a secure, seamless and consistent experience for travelers moving through our country’s ports of entry and exit. CBP operates the Traveler Verification Service (TVS), a database used to match and authenticate travelers’ facial images as they enter or exit the country, to which TSA will have access for future expansion of facial recognition at security lines for expedited screening. CBP’s Wagner now reports having caught more than 100 imposters attempting to illegally enter the country at U.S. land and air borders. And why shouldn’t TSA have access to this technology that is already proving itself so valuable?
  2. Sensor fusion is the future of customer experience. In his keynote address, NEC Vice President of Technology and Solutions Kris Ranganath discussed the combination of IoT, AI and analytics technologies that will come together to enable digital transformation and create seamless, reliable, more enjoyable, yet still solidly secure customer experiences as we move between two worlds – the cyber realm and the physical realm. This concept of sensor fusion already exists in certain cutting-edge retail and entertainment use case examples, and Mr. Ranganath expects we’ll only see more of this in the future.
  3. Customer journeys are a key theme for driving innovation for international travel and border protection. The vision for this experience is to create a seamless or contactless journey from reservation to destination. Mr. Wagner from CBP referenced in more than one instance the importance of a frictionless traveler journey in solving the border security issue. In a panel on the future of seamless travel, I outlined several customer journeys related to border entry – via air, land and sea – all enabled by facial recognition and sensor fusion. These journeys are not just a dream, they’re becoming reality. Mr. Wagner at one point in the fireside chat posited that someday kiosks may become unnecessary for Global Entry.
  4. Personal data privacy was discussed in more than one session. Nobody disagrees that privacy is paramount, and more than one multi-disciplinary panel of experts at connect:ID agreed. However, how we achieve it at a policy level is still up for broad discussion and debate. In the government panel titled “Perspectives on Privacy: The Rashomon Effect,” panelists including NEC’s Director of Government Relations Brent Bombach offered varying takes on the issue. Our take and hope is that federal legislation will eventually create a consistent regulatory environment so that travelers can move safely and seamlessly through their journeys without fear of their personal data being stolen.  So, as NEC Corporation CEO Takashi Niino previously wrote, NEC will always favor legislation that both protects personal privacy and allows for innovation in the public and commercial sectors. But a variety of state laws currently on the books or in varying stages of proposal promise to ensure a complex regulatory environment where biometrics and data privacy is concerned. Furthermore, a panel of congressional staffers on the main stage seemed to conclude that a federal preemption, or federal legislation that would render state privacy laws related to biometrics moot or unnecessary, is not likely to succeed in 2019.
  5. Innovation was on full display across the connect:ID 2019 expo floor. I’d like to be able to say that it was all in NEC’s booth. Evidence of innovation was actually scattered all across the expo floor. My favorite, however, is a solution based on NEC’s own research and development in optical networks. Intelligent Perimeter Intrusion Detection (iPIDS) works to detect physical border and facility breaches through the use of highly adaptive and responsive fiber-optic sensing and self-modifying machine learning based artificial intelligence. Deployed along a border or around a secure facility, iPIDS can not only tell when something is there, it uses AI to understand the location and source of the vibrations. Deployed as part of a sensor fusion network, iPIDS is one more way that people can feel safe and secure as they go about their daily journeys.

NEC was proud, as always to participate in this year’s connect:ID, and we certainly look forward to the 2020 event and to see where the industry will be in less than a year’s time.

For additional information and to stay up on the latest, follow us on Twitter and check out our NEC Advanced Recognition Systems page online.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure: Datacenter Management Made Easy

Datacenters host the most sophisticated and essential business processes, but are often inefficient and expensive to manage. Made up of storage, servers and networking, IT staff with highly specialized expertise spends much of its time troubleshooting to keep these systems available at all times. Meanwhile, new technology is purchased and integrated into current and legacy systems, creating more complexity and an overwhelmed staff.

Imagine a simple and unified way to merge cloud-like agility and cloud-like costs with the security and reliability of on-premises solutions. NEC’s HyperConverged Infrastructure (HCI), powered by Scale Computing, delivers a more manageable solution in a single appliance, a “datacenter in a box.”

A turnkey solution that offers storage, servers, networking and virtualization, HCI is not a new idea and more than 46% of organizations are planning to purchase by 2020. Read further to understand the complexities of traditional datacenters and how a Hyperconverged Infrastructure addresses these and minimizes the costs.

Complexities of Traditional Datacenters

Disparate Systems are Difficult to Manage

Many factors lead to the purchase of disparate systems in a datacenter, including new IT trends, business-critical applications, virtualization and cloud. With so many specialized systems, IT staff must be skilled and trained on the particulars of managing each system. These separate systems, each with its own server, storage, networking and management requirements, create IT silos and cost more to manage.

Scalability is Inefficient

When a business-critical application or the public cloud requires more storage, the organization may not have a clear picture of current datacenter assets available for use. Purchasing more servers or more storage, without regard for space or current capacity, is inefficient and adds to the complexity in the datacenter environment.

Innovation is Nearly Impossible

If the IT staff is spending most of their day trying to rectify errors, learn the specific elements of managing many different systems and install service updates, they will have little time to create new business solutions. Being proactive is nearly impossible with a staff who is in continual react and repair mode.

Downtime is Expensive

In 2014, Gartner estimated that the average cost of network downtime was $5,600/minute. Increased human involvement in managing a complex environment, especially with specialized infrastructure, also increases the risk of downtime. If a business-critical application is unavailable for an hour, the cost to the organization could be in the millions.

How HCI Solves Datacenter Complexity

Hyperconverged Infrastructure integrates hardware and software into one system. By consolidating and streamlining IT processes, HCI brings the hardware into one rack and one virtualized system that is managed on a single screen. With a single management interface, HCI makes troubleshooting simple and easy, allowing your IT staff to be more proactive and productive.

By creating a more unified and simplified environment, adding capacity to existing infrastructure is seamless, without disruption to any running workloads. Different models and capacities can be used together, in many different combinations, to scale out resources more efficiently.

HCI is more stable, offering redundancy and higher availability than traditional virtualization solutions. NEC also offers the option of Disaster Recovery as a Service, building in advanced security and reliability and virtually eliminating both planned and unplanned downtime.

About NEC’s HyperConverged Infrastructure Solution

As another addition to our Smart Enterprise portfolio, NEC’s HCI runs on NEC’s Express 5800/D120h high-density, dual socket modular server that can host 4 nodes in a single chassis. NEC has also partnered with Scale Computing, a hyperconverged infrastructure company, to power the complete virtualization solution with their HC3 software. This cost-effective single appliance is designed for rapid deployment, ease-of-use, seamless scaling and high performance.

NEC’s HCI solution comes preconfigured and preinstalled from the factory for easy integration into the current datacenter environment. Creating a unified and simplified system, the “datacenter in a box” operates as a redundant and elastic “private cloud,” reducing both complexity and cost.

The initial investment in NEC’s HCI solution is lower than other industry providers because our solution includes all the software, hardware and support at a single price. By eliminating expensive virtualization software licensing fees, organizations can quickly realize the value of NEC’s HCI solution and lower their IT costs.

Make certain you keep up with ever-evolving technology while improving your IT processes! Download our eBook, “Keep Calm and Unify Your IT,” to learn more about HCI. If you would like to speak with an NEC Solutions Expert, please contact us today.

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