Acronis Press Conference with Williams Martini Racing

Acronis gives us confidence that our data is protected – Hackland

Twenty years ago, all the data from both a team’s Formula 1 cars could fit on a single floppy disk. Today, it would take more than 300,000 of such disks to hold all the data generated over a racing weekend. How technology has changed in such a short space of time.

“This year, our team is generating more data than we ever did,” commented Graeme Hackland, Chief Information Officer at Williams Martini Racing, at an Acronis media event Wednesday preceding the 2018 British Grand Prix. “Each racing weekend we transfer more than 400GB of voice, video, analytics, and telemetry data back to the factory. And it all needs to be secured and protected.”

Answering the media’s probing questions about the use of data in F1, Hackland said that Williams take no chances when it comes to data, and that was the reason the team partnered with Acronis earlier this year.

“We take data protection very seriously,” Hackland continued. “We run user behavior analytics, encrypt everything, and make sure that data doesn’t leave the organization. As you know, people move between F1 teams. Way back in the past, sometimes data moved between F1 teams as well.  We want to make sure it doesn’t happen anymore.

“We take our network to China, U.S., Bahrain, all over the globe, opening a door into our network from more than 20 countries every year. So, we want to make sure it’s protected properly.”

Williams has partnered with several key vendors to ensure network security and endpoint protection. But when it comes to protecting the data itself, Acronis comes first.

“We looked for a partner who would help us with data protection and easy data recovery, from any point in time. Acronis clearly stood out from the rest. We have about 3PB of data stored in the Acronis Cloud already, and there is much more to come.

“Acronis gives us reliable backup. All data is encrypted so that nobody else, not even Acronis, can see the data, because we are the only ones who hold the key. And if it’s hit with ransomware, Acronis Active Protection detects and blocks the attack. We’ll be able to easily recover. It gives us the much-needed disaster recovery capability.”

Talking about the ever-increasing ransomware problem that blights many businesses, Hackland said that Williams was hit twice. The first time, cybercriminals went through the perimeter defense and managed to encrypt around 50k files on the network. But the attack was stopped and data recovered from backup. The second time, an individual laptop was hacked. The attackers managed to get into the owner’s bank account and steal money, before encrypting the hard drive. All of the data was lost and the laptop had to be rebuilt.”

Both attacks happened before the current partnership with Acronis and also Symantec, that now gives Williams the important security buffer that they need.

“The thing I hate the most is losing data that people spent time creating. We needed a partner who could protect us from such attacks and made data recovery fast and easy,” concluded Hackland.

“Acronis gave us confidence that our data – in the factory, in the garage, and in the cloud – is always protected.”

Top image: Graeme Hackland, Williams Martini Racing CIO, at an Acronis media event preceding the 2018 British Grand Prix. © Acronis.

Guennadi Moukine

Motorsport Technology Editor.