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Why cloud backup is your secret weapon in the ransomware fight

With a string of high-profile ransomware cases flooding the news right now, companies are beginning to take their data protection and web security very seriously.

With a large percentage of business now being conducted online, and 78% of small businesses expected to be fully reliant on the cloud by 2020 according to a recent Intuit report, it is crucial to analyse your current backup methods and whether they would be effective if you were hit by a ransomware attack.

If you’ve heard of the 3-2-1 backup rule then you’re already ahead of the crowd. Most experts agree that 3-2-1 backup is the safety standard for companies that have data they need to ensure is thoroughly protected.

The 3-2-1 solution is:

  • 3 different copies of data
  • 2 different forms of media
  • 1 stored offsite.

It is the absolute best way to keep your files, folders, and critical information safe from the hands of hackers.

While local backup should be the very first point of call in any ransomware protection strategy, cloud backup solutions can be your secret weapon in the fight against cybercrime. It can take a key place in your system, and ensure the 3-2-1 backup rule is far easier to put in place. With your cloud backup stored offsite and almost invisible to ransomware hackers, you’ll be able to breathe a little easier.

The purpose of ransomware is to make paying to get your data back an easier and more attractive option than any other. When you are attacked and your device and accompanying data either encrypted or locked the options are pretty bleak. You could destroy your infected systems and start from scratch, you could pay the ransom to get your files decrypted (although there’s no guarantee that will happen) or you can restore your systems from your backups (if you’ve set them up correctly).

This third option is what stops a ransomware attack from being truly successful. When you have backed up effectively, attackers lose their power. Paying the ransom will only ensure that these attacks continue, and destroying your infected data will ultimately cost your business valuable time and resources. The key is to ensure you have good backups that are as protected from ransomware as they can possibly be.

The first place to look at backups is locally. Despite a 300% increase in ransomware attacks over 2015, over 91% of people still don’t back up their computers on a daily basis. When setting up local backups, you need to ensure that they cannot be seen by the computer/s that could be infected. Basic backup solutions, like Apple Time Machine, for example, can leave you vulnerable as many of these products back up to files that are stored on a shared network or USB drive. This is exactly what ransomware can target.

If you use a backup product that uses a backup server then you need to keep that protected too. A backup server is susceptible to ransomware, as the recent WannaCry infection (which spread among Windows servers) showed. Ransomware like this could attack your backups and your data. Ensuring backup servers are patched will help, but using a hardened backup appliance will give you even better protection.

Local backup is not enough though to save you from the diverse threats that exist in this current digital landscape. This is where cloud backup comes in. Cloud backup solutions offer a brilliant second method of protection and should be a part of your overall strategy. With the right provider, the backups are kept off your office network and PCs. This makes these backups safer against ransomware as they are much more difficult to infect. Your PC backup software will send backup data to the cloud, which then stores it outside of your network. Once these backups are stored they should not change, although they may be restored on the odd occasion.

The best cloud backup providers will:

  • Make sure that your cloud application only accepts new backups
  • Not use a driver letter that allows you to obtain backups on your PC
  • Have file versioning enabled
  • Have granular restore, which allows you to easily search and find emails documents or attachments by keyword and restore what you need.

They will also store backups in a deduplicated (the process of removing repeated or duplicated data from the data stream) and compressed object store where they can’t be overwritten. Each backup should be around to restore until its expiry time, and the timing of this is generally controlled by your cloud server policy. Thankfully, any ransomware that gets on your PC will not be able to access, set or change a deletion policy, and so your backups will be as safe as possible from their hands. 

The absolute best backup services will pick a point in time for the restore and that will hopefully be the one just before a ransomware attack. Cloud backup software keeps a history of backups, which will allow for any previous backup to be installed.

Many small businesses rely on cloud storage providers like Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud to save them from a ransomware attack, and while these services do provide some protection, they are not as safe as having a separate cloud backup solution in place. Ransomware can infect your whole system, including the cloud storage you use before you can detect it.

A cloud backup solution is much more comprehensive. It takes advantage of your current IT infrastructure, so there's no need to buy or install expensive equipment. The software integrates with your IT environments to find and prioritise files for backup, and then transmits encrypted versions of those files securely to offsite data centres. Plus, once you've selected a backup schedule, your company data is saved automatically, providing an unobtrusive and transparent solution.

Xenace offers secure and complete cloud backup services to small businesses in Essex. Contact us now for more details on how our cloud solutions can help you.

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