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Tips & Tricks

How Effective Data Backup Can Prevent Falling Victim to a Ransomware Attack

 May 1, 2019

By  Anton Kiorolgo

In the world of viruses, malware, and other malicious computer scripts, Ransomware is becoming one of the most dangerous of the bunch for businesses. Like other types of malware, it can infiltrate a computer or a server with multiple connected computers by one click on a fake email attachment or a bad web page.

While it may take a little time and planning upfront, backing up your computer system can save you hundreds, thousands, and even millions of dollars in the future in the event of a ransomware attack or other data loss.

Preventing A Ransomware Attack

If your business doesn’t have a regular and reliable data backup, you could be paying $10,000 to $40,000 to get your data back once you’ve been a victim.

According to a report by anti-virus provider Kaspersky Labs, the number of businesses and consumers hit by ransomware attacks in 2016 was up three-fold from the prior year. Attacks against businesses increased from one every two minutes to one every 40 seconds, and for consumers, it was one attack every 10 seconds.

According to CNBC, another study by IBM confirms the alarming increase in ramsonware attacks. They found that spam emails loaded with ransomware increased 6,000 percent in 2016 over the prior year and that the business model was on track to make $1 billion for cybercriminals in 2016.

How is Ransomware Different from Other Malware?

Ransomware got its name because typically it involves the criminals delivering a malicious script that scrambles a system’s data and they demand a ransom to unscramble it.

When an attack happens, you realize the importance of regular data backup because that’s how companies can avoid paying the ransom. With so much information now in digital form, a company can be completely shut down without access to financial records, marketing files, company trade secrets, and other vital corporate information.

According to the CNBC report, this is a reason that approximately 70 percent of businesses victims of these attacks pay the hackers to get their data unscrambled. The cost for about 50 percent of them was more than $10,000, and for the other 20 percent, more than $40,000.

Types of ransomware include:

  • Encrypting: Encrypts/scrambles data on the victim’s system.
  • Blocking: Prevents victims from accessing their data, but doesn’t encrypt it.
  • Mobile: Made for tablets and smartphones, is usually a blocking type.
  • Leakware: A spin-off of ransomware, where sensitive files are threatened to be published or leaked publically.

All types use a request for ransom in exchange for giving the victim access back to their files, and in the case of leakware, not releasing them.

Protecting Yourself or Business with Data Backup

When San Francisco’s light rail system was attacked in 2016, they avoided having to pay a hefty ransom because their system was fully backed up. A Hollywood, CA area hospital was not so lucky, and ended up paying a ransom of almost $3.7 million in bitcoin to get their data back.

Backing up your data regularly and securely is key to protecting yourself from being a victim of ransomware and other computer attacks.

While backups used to be more cumbersome, done manually with CD’s or flash drives, new backup systems automate everything, so your system is always backing up while you go about your business.

Options for regular backup of data:

  • CDs, DVDs, or Flash Drives
  • External Hard Drive
  • Remote Server Hard Drive
  • Online Storage Service
  • Online Cloud Backup Service

Pros and Cons of Manual Vs. Automatic Backup

There are some pros and cons connected with each system backup. You may want more secure control of your information in some cases, and in others, the convenience of an automated cloud system may win out.

Manual / Physical Backup

Pros:

  • You completely control your data and where it is stored.
  • You have access to it 24/7/365.
  • You know exactly when the files were last backed up.

Cons:

  • If a disk, flash drive or physical drive is lost, your data is too.
  • It may be longer than you want between backups because it’s not automated.
  • More cumbersome and time-consuming.

Automated / Cloud Backup

Pros:

  • Once set up, it backups up automatically and regularly, not human dependent.
  • Usually comes with customer support to help in the restoration process.
  • It can also keep a redundant physical copy if you like.

Cons:

  • Not as secure as a physical copy.
  • You may not have access to your data whenever you want.
  • Although made guard against them, possibly vulnerable to hack.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Backup System

When you’re choosing a secure backup system for your business or home, you’ll want to consider a few things before you jump right in with a new backup option.

  1. The security of your backed up data. Is it encrypted? Is it protected from loss?
  2. Whether or not you need immediate or online access to the backed up data. Can you access it anytime or do you have to go through a restoration process first?
  3. How the backup works. How often does it back up? Will it slow the system during backups?
  4. The recovery process. How is the data restored in the case of a ransomware attack or other data loss?
  5. Once initiated, how long does a full data restoration take? Is it available 24/7?

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Conclusion

While it may take a little time and planning upfront, backing up your computer system can save you hundreds, thousands, and even millions of dollars in the future in the event of a ransomware attack or other data loss.

With these types of attacks increasing each year, it’s vital for a business to be prepared in the event of an attack, and having a reliable backup of all your data is the best way to do that.

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