Leading U.S. Construction Firm Recovers from Ransomware Using Earthbend Backup Services Powered by CTERA

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  • S.J. Louis Construction uses CTERA to eliminate ransomware threats and ensure business continuity
  • Saves millions of dollars of current and former company contracts and data
  • Modernizes office storage and backup processes with hybrid cloud strategy managed by Earthbend Technology

Company Background

S.J. Louis Construction is a national construction contracting company that provides underground utility, tunneling, horizontal directional drilling, rock trenching and infiltration, and earthwork services to public and private markets in the United States. S.J. Louis was founded in 1983 and is based in Rockville, Minnesota.

The Challenge

For decades S.J. Louis had relied on a tape backup system to protect data at its sites around the country. But without an IT presence at smaller remote sites, S.J. Louis did not have efficient processes to ensure tapes were swapped out in a timely manner, and could not ensure that all tapes were being stored offsite, per company policy.

Furthermore, every time a file restore was necessary, an office staff member unfamiliar with backup technology would have to locate the correct tape and insert it into the appropriate drive to enable the central IT administrator in Minnesota to trigger the restore – a process that often took days to complete, slowing office productivity.

These issues came to a head recently when a SJ Louis office was infected with ransomware, a particularly insidious form of malware that holds its victims’ files hostage until a “ransom” – typically ranging from hundreds of dollars to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars – is paid.

The CTERA Solution

S.J. Louis was able to quickly and easily mitigate two successive ransomware attacks – with zero files lost or compromised – with a CTERA-based solution deployed on AWS offered by managed services provider Earthbend.

S.J. Louis had deployed CTERA’s cloud storage gateways at each of its remote sites. The CTERA gateway serves as an all-in-one file server, backup appliance, and offsite data protection service, and enables S.J. Louis IT manager Rob Svendsen to centrally manage and monitor backups of company servers around the country. Svendsen configured backups to occur every night, sending server data to the gateway, which keeps a local copy on-site and also replicates the data to the cloud for offsite protection. This hybrid backup model provides a fast local recovery option while also replacing the need for cumbersome processes for offsite tape backup.

“If it weren’t for CTERA technology and Earthbend managed services, ransomware would have been a devastating and potentially business-closing catastrophe.”

Rob Svendsen, IT Manager

When ransomware infected the file server in S.J. Louis’s Texas office, Svendsen didn’t panic – despite having his file held hostage by attackers for more than $100,000. With CTERA, Svendsen could simply “roll back” to a previous version of his files stored in Earthbend’s cloud powered by AWS and trigger a full restore of server files from the cloud storage gateway. The ransomware was thus removed from the system, resulting in minimal disruption to office productivity. And when a second attack occurred days later, Svendsen followed the same process to mitigate another potential disaster.

From a business continuity standpoint, Svendsen realizes the company dodged a major bullet. “All records for current and former S.J. Louis construction jobs were on those servers, including $200 million worth of current construction work,” he says. “Trying to manually replicate that information would have been impossible, and I would have been surprised if we could have reproduced even ten percent of what was there. If it weren’t for CTERA technology and Earthbend managed services, ransomware would have been a devastating and potentially business-closing catastrophe.”

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