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How to prepare for (and prevent) ransomware attacks

Paul Mah | June 24, 2016
The only sure way to protect yourself or your company from 'ransomware' is with foolproof file backups. These three backup options can all help recover from ransomware attacks.

Advanced data-backup options, such as Acronis's True Image offerings, support data recovery onto disparate hardware so, for example, all of the contents on a failed laptop could potentially be restored directly onto a new laptop — even if it is a different model, from another manufacturer.

Acronis True Image Cloud lets users rollback full PC backups to specific points in time.

The biggest issue with traditional data backups is that the frequency of revisions is often multiple days, or even weeks, due to the time and resources it takes to initiate backup jobs.

2. Ransomware and NAS backups

Individuals and small businesses that value speed of data recovery may want to consider using a dedicated network attached storage (NAS) appliance for backups. Two common ways exist to set up a NAS to protect against crypto malware: You can use the NAS as a "dumb" repository for backing up data, or as a shared drive that's configured to create regular point-in-time backups.

Individuals and organizations can use backup software to back data up directly to a NAS, though network-connected backup utilities, such as Bvckup 2, are also worth a look because they're reliable and can rapidly copy files across a network.

To ensure files that are backed up to NAS are out of reach of crypto malware on Windows devices, it is necessary to create a separate user account for the "Backup Operators" group from which the backup utility is run. The shared network location on the NAS should then be locked to everyone except approved users.

The built-in capabilities of the NAS can also be used to create regular backups of shared files. The DSM 6.0 operating platform from storage specialist Synology, for example, has a "Snapshot Replication" feature that can be customized to perform point-in-time backups of shared folders as frequently as every five minutes, with light disk strain and little or no system impact.

Synology DSM 6.0 lets users create automatic snapshot backups of shared folders as frequently as every five minutes.

The downside is that setting up and using NAS to defend against crypto malware requires a certain level of technical competency, and misconfigurations can result in a false sense of security while files are potentially exposed.

3. Ransomware and cloud backups

Though cloud storage services aren't always ideal for protection against crypto malware because of how they sync encrypted files, many such services have file-version features that make it possible to recover uncorrupted copies of files. However, many cloud offerings save only a finite number of revisions, which means uncompromised good files can be bumped off the list.


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