School Defeats Ransomware With Unitrends “And Not a Penny Paid in Ransom”

I have a lot of confidence in this system. It’s one less thing I have to worry about. Gary Halbedel
Network Administrator Unitrends Customer since 2012

Unitrends Solution for Bethlehem Central School District

Protected Environment
  • Bare metal Windows servers
  • Windows SQL servers
  • Cisco VoIP
  • Bare metal restores for quick recovery
  • Multiple ransomware recoveries
  • Peace of mind

The Challenge

“Staff and students make mistakes, delete things they shouldn’t, or computers malfunction,” says Gary Halbedel, network administrator for the Bethlehem Central School District.

“I need to be sure I can get them back in business quickly.”

Halbedel adds, “Also, I need to protect against malicious threats such as ransomware attacks.” The school district was using Symantec Backup to DLT tape. However, the tape solution was slow and required a lot of management. “Restores were awkward and time-consuming, difficult to perform and sometimes the tape was defective or didn’t have the data it should,” says Halbedel.

“I definitely wanted to get away from tape, so I began looking at several disk-based solutions,” Halbedel continues. “A colleague at another school district was using Unitrends and he highly recommended it, so I looked into it and liked what I saw. Besides the disk-based backup, I liked the fact that all the agents were included at no extra charge and just about every agent was included, including those I needed for my servers.”

Bethlehem Central School District
Bethlehem is a town located in upstate New York with a school district of about 5,000 students and 800 staff. The town has a population of about 34,000 and is considered an affluent suburb of Albany. The IT infrastructure of the school district is typical of this type of an organization, with physical Windows servers running education and financial applications, Microsoft SQL servers and a Cisco VoIP system whose configuration files need to be protected.

Follow Up

In addition to the restores of individual files and lost emails, Halbedel says that his school district was the victim of several ransomware attacks. “We’ve had two separate ransomware incidents where users informed me that their files were encrypted with a message about paying a ransom. It was trivial and quick for me to restore the data from the Unitrends backup.” When asked about what he thinks about his Unitrends backup appliance, he says:

“I have much less stress and worry about whether the systems I am responsible for will be recoverable in the event of an incident.”

Halbedel also noted, “My users have benefited from quick and accurate restores of their data when needed. The support is also excellent.” The school’s IT team also appreciates the proactive analytics built in Unitrends appliances that automatically alerts administrators to potential backup problems like drive failures and VSS issues. “I like the proactive notification that when I have an incipient drive failure, I get one shipped to me [from Unitrends] the next day,” Halbedel says. “And not a penny paid in ransom.”

The school district has continued to rely on Unitrends backup appliances for more than 10 years now. Halbedel and his team also added Unitrends Forever Cloud for automated and immutable off-site storage.