by Burton Kelso, The Technology Expert
1. Understand what backup is.
For those of you who don't know, backing up is the practice of making sure your files are copied to multiple places. In the event of a technology disaster, you can recover your files and continue where you left off.
You can always buy new devices, but you can never replace photos, videos, and documents that are stored on your devices in a ransomware attack.
The act of backing up isn't too hard of a process, but knowing the right way to backup your information can be a challenge because there are so many backup technologies out there. Here are the different forms of backup:
External hard drive.
An external hard drive is a device that usually plugs into your desktop or laptop computer. With the aid of Windows File History or Apple's Time Machine, your files are automatically copied to your external hard drive. Seagate: (www.seagate.com) and Western Digital (www.wd.com) are the top manufacturers of external hard drives.
Network Access Storage.
This device is like an external hard drive on steroids. You can use this device to store large amounts of files (provided you are backing up the Network Access Storage) or you can backup massive amounts of data directly to it, acting as a file server for your home or office network. NAS devices can also be accessed from remote destinations offering you or your business a personal cloud storage service. Western Digital (www.wd.com) QNAP (www.qnap.com) and Buffalo (www.buffalotech.com) are the top manufacturers of NAS drives.
Basically the cloud is someone else's computer. The whole purpose is for you to be able to access your files from anywhere in the world. You can choose to just store files in the cloud or you can send your backup to the cloud as well. There are two ways the cloud works. Cloud Storage: services like OneDrive (www.onedrive), DropBox (www.dropbox.com) , Box (www.box.com, and Google Drive (www.google.com) allows you to store your files in the cloud for the sole purpose of you being able to access your files anywhere in the world. Cloud Backup: Cloud Backup services like Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) or BackBlaze (www.backblaze.com) will automatically backup your files to the cloud and keep multiple copies in the case something catastrophic happens to your files.
2. Understand How Ransomeware works.
Ransomware is probably one of the most destructive forms of viruses out there. Like other forms of cybercrime, ransomware requires user interaction which means you should always be cautious of what you click on in emails, websites, and text messages.
What makes ransomware so deadly is it will work to spread to other computers on your personal or company network, mapped drives, and cloud storage devices and cloud backup services. This is why more companies and individuals need to have multiple forms of backup to ensure files are kept safe.
3. Understand how backup software works.
For external hard drives and NAS devices, Windows users can take advantage of File History to backup files to an external hard drive. Macintosh users can use Time Machine. Both File History and Time Machine automatically save the files on your computer and store them to your backup device. Time Machine is the superior software as it performs a backup of your entire mac and makes multiple copies. If your computer is hit with ransomware, you can restore it from a previous copy.
Although Windows File History works well, it is advised that you use the backup software that Western Digital and Seagate Provide with their devices because it allows you to create multiple backups. With cloud backup services, the process is simple.
Once you install the backup software from the service, your computers are backed up as soon as you connect to the internet. Every time you save a file or files to your computer, it's sent to the cloud instantly. Keep in mind this does not happen when you use services like DropBox or Box.
4. What about my mobile devices such as phones and tablets.
At the current time, ransomware is very rare for smartphones or tablets. To keep this and other threats off your devices, watch where you visit and what apps you download. Also, Apple users need to always use iCloud (www.icloud.com) to automatically backup information on iOS devices and Android users need to enable Google Drive and Google Photos to backup information.
5. How can I keep my Backups Safe From Ransomware?
Well, the truth is with Ransomware, there is no way to keep them away from your backups once they are on your computers and network. This is why it's important to train yourself and your staff on how to keep safe from the threats out there. Remember, 99% of all cybercrime requires user interaction which means to activate ransomware, you have to click on a link in an email or web site, or download an attachment to your computer for most of these viruses to do damage.
One of the best practices for keeping your files safe from ransomware attacks is to have an onsite backup using an external hard drive that is keeping at least three backup copies of your files and offsite backup with a cloud service provider that is always keeping multiple copies of your files. Onsite backups are important because if disaster strikes, you can quickly get access to your files. With a cloud backup service, it could take days to get your information back. For most of us, we can't wait days to get access to precious photos and videos or important business documents.
When it comes to Ransomware or any other cyber threats to your computers or devices, prevention is the first step that you need to take. You will be better prepared if you know what you are up against. Always check your backups to make sure they are doing their job and working around the clock to keep your files safe and secure.
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