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Backup Measures for Protection Against Ransomware

Overview

In a hacking attack against the gasoline pipeline owned by Colonial, on May 7, 2021, ransomware was the culprit–a type of malicious software that, when installed on a computer system, encrypts targeted files and requests a ransom to unlock or decrypt the files. Without paying the ransom, the affected files or systems using them will be useless.

In fact, data theft carried out by various methods, including by way of ransomware, is a lucrative industry sought by computer hackers–this should bring pause to anyone with valued data stored on a computer, even that of personal or sentimental value. The Deep Web, a part of the internet undetectable by standard search engines, is typically where data thieves can find buyers for their stolen data.

Mitigation

Part of the cure for data theft is being proactive about protecting data instead of reactive. Keeping regimented backup copies of documents, photos, audio, video, and various types of data stored off the computer–on external hard drives, thumb drives, or cloud storage–is essential. Education about computer security should cover data storage best practices, computer maintenance, and cybersecurity familiarity. Data destruction is also a necessary part of data security. When it comes time to dispose of used computers, hard drives should be removed and destroyed. Although there may not be any files visible on the drives any longer, there could still be hidden data retrievable by special recovery tools. Destruction of data storage devices, including but not limited to hard drives, thumb drives, and embedded flash devices–such as eMMC– is best left to industry pros.

Creating data backups is essential in keeping your information secure. Data loss can happen due to cyberattacks, such as ransomware or phishing schemes. The loss of data can also occur due to a natural disaster damaging your business. Staying proactive by creating data backups is the best way to avoid such a doomsday scenario and give you peace of mind. However, many companies make several mistakes while creating data backups, proving costly if they ever need to access this information during an emergency.

Here are a few of the most common data backup mistakes to avoid.

1) Failure to Audit Backups

Many businesses make the simple mistake of creating backups and never testing them for any problems. However, failure to audit your data backups creates plenty of risks. Auditing your backups at regular time intervals is essential to ensure everything is working and that your information is readily available at any time.

2) Not Storing Data at a Separate Location

Another common mistake is not storing your data backups in a different location. Stockpiling all of your backups in your office is a significant security risk, especially if your building suffers damages due to a fire, flooding, or countless other reasons. Uploading data backups to the cloud with zero-trust encryption is one way to overcome this issue to ensure geographic disparity.

3) Allowing Servers Access to Your Backups

Data backups need to be disconnected or “gapped” from your servers or PCs for maximum protection. Allowing your computer systems direct access to your backups makes it too easy for cybercriminals to target your IT infrastructure and gain access to all of your information. For example, ransomware can lock out all of this data and make it impossible for you to reach it. Making sure your data backups are separate from the rest of your servers is critical in giving your business much-needed protection against cyber threats.

4) Only Using One Data Backup Strategy

Only using one data backup strategy is a significant mistake that’s all too common for many companies. One way to prevent this problem is to follow the 3-2-1 rule. This rule means that you need to maintain three copies of your data while storing it on two separate types of media. One copy of your data can be stored on-site, and another can be stored off-site while being disconnected from your network to avoid ransomware or hackers.

Closing Thoughts on Backups

Data plays a vital role in today’s work environment. Unfortunately, all of this data is highly valuable to cybercriminals, as they are constantly developing new strategies to target businesses of any size. Auditing your data backups frequently, storing your data in different places, and keeping at least one backup separate from your PCs and servers is essential in giving your business the best data security. Using multiple data backup strategies is also effective in keeping your information safe.

Now is an excellent time for your business to review your data backup policy and make any adjustments to boost data security for your business.

As We Advance

Despite the tools and knowledge available to protect data, complacency tends to set in, and computer users become victims of data theft or various other hacking attacks. When an extended time period passes without any malware or theft issues, people may begin to gain a false sense of security. Before they realize it, computer data calamity hits, and not only are they out of luck personally, but their businesses suffer a significant loss. Don’t fall victim to complacency.

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