World Backup Day

March 31 was World Backup Day. Backups, as we all know, are critical. But did you know that: 75% of computer users don’t backup properly and 75% of data loss is due to hardware failure or human error (i.e. accidentally deleting a file and not having a backup). Backups have always been critical, but, in the age of ransomware, backups have become even more important. 

Maybe you're asking: “what is ransomware?” Ransomware is simply a virus that attacks and encrypts the data on your computer, rendering it unusable. The creator then requires a “ransom” of hundreds or thousands of dollars to the hackers to get a key to unlock the data.

Some stats:

  • 59% of ransomware infections are delivered via email attachments
  • and
  • 47% of businesses have been affected in some form by ransomware.

So what can you do? Here are six key steps to take in an effort to secure and protect your computer’s data:

  1. Backup: diversify the locations so that the failure of any single point won’t lead to irreversible loss of data.  i.e. physical media (local/offline) Cloud, Dropbox, Carbonite. It’s good to have at least two to three different methods of backup.
  2. Personalize Anti–Spam settings: block .exe, .vbs ,or .scr files
  3. Refrain from opening suspicious attachments: this includes unfamiliar people, notifications from FEDEX, E-commerce, banking, or law enforcement.
    • Look for:
    • improper use of language and misspelling
    • the wrong From: email
  4. Think twice before clicking: dangerous hyperlinks can be received and appear to be from a source that you trust. Remember that you can hover over the link to see where it is actually connecting to, but if you do be very careful to not accidentally click the link.
  5. Show file extensions: this is a native Windows Explorer function. When turned on it shows the true type of file. For example, a file could look like a picture file, but really be an executable file. Clicking on this image, for whatever reason, could open and spread a virus. By turning on Show File Extensions, the system would show that it was an executable (.exe) file.
  6. Patch and keep operating systems and other software up to date

Cloud services can also be used to help mitigate ransomware infections. Cloud services host your data and can offer the ability to separate your email from your data. If your email is local and your data is hosted, then it will be extremely difficult for the ransomware to reach your data. In addition, should that happen, cloud service companies are able to roll back your data to a pre-ransomware condition to get you back up and running quickly.

Using email services like Office 365 can keep your data much safer than on a local PC.

Look into installing ransomware software. There are a number available, but Malwarebytes is one popular product that will look for incoming ransomware attacks.

Nothing is 100 %, but following the steps outlined above and keeping your data properly backed up will make your data much safer.