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From The TCS Blog

The Best Ways to Protect Against Ransomware Scares

By: Jessica Clifford

Ransomware

Should small to medium-sized businesses be scared about Ransomware? Paul Eichen, the small business owner of California-based toy store -- Rokenbok Education, would say yes. In theholiday shopping season of 2015 Eichen’s seven employee toy store was hacked by cyber criminals that encrypted his company’s information, leaving their files unusable. This one attack forced Eichen to loose thousands of dollars in sales in only two days.

Unfortunately, smaller businesses do have it worse than larger businesses because they do not have the financial support to prevent such attacks.1 However, there is a best protection against Ransomware scares that any sized company can use – data backup support.

For those of you just discovering the term Ransomware, it is an assertive cyberattack in which the hacker holds personal and professional data as ransom until the victim hands over a monetary reward in the form of bitcoin or another digital currency for their information. The catch to Ransomware is that if you do not pay, you will lose your information indefinitely. 

This cyber extortion can only work if you do not have a backup of your information; therefore, many victims pay for their information knowing it is the only copy they own. This is why you must make backups daily before it is too late.2 Luckily, there are many ways to do so.

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First, you or your company can use a dedicated backup software. This makes full copies of hard disk drives and then stores them on some external source. The great part about using a dedicated backup software is that it hardly takes up much storage space on your computer. However, Paul Mah, a former IT professional now tech blogger states the drawback to this backup method is, “the frequency of revisions is often multiple days, or even weeks, due to the time and resources it takes to initiate backup jobs.” 

Another backup plan is Network Attached Storage (NAS) backups which are perfect for a speedy recovery. NAS backupswork best when only a select few employees know the password to backup accounts. However, this backup plan is usually for someone that has some technical competency, such as an IT staff member.

Lastly, if you lack technical competency you can always use Cloud-based backups. Some great examples of these are Microsoft’s One Drive and Dropbox. However, Cloud-based backups have the chance to be encrypted with Ransomware in some cases. Also, Cloud-based backup’s effectiveness varies on your Cloud provider’s infrastructure, the bandwidth available, and the amount of information that needs recovering.

Overall, some data backup systems will have more viable options over others in securing your company’s information. Therefore, a little shopping around will do your company good before quickly selecting a single backup system.

Also, before you and your company begin backup prevention, you might want to know some other helpful tips. First, it is best to make backups of your entire computer instead of a few essential spreadsheets. Also, backing up should be a daily occurrence, so that every document is up to date in case something happens at any time. Secondly, as Stephen Cobb, senior security researcher at ESET states, “the biggest gotcha that companies are encountering when they are hit with Ransomware is that they haven’t had a recent test of their recovery process.” This, for example, could have been where Rokenbok Education failed, or they could have left their backups completely open for the taking. This leads me to my third and last tip: keep your backups hidden. Sam McLane, leader of security engineering at Arctic Wolf Networks states, “To make your backups Ransomware proof, you should use a drive not mounted to a particular workstation”. By doing this, it is essentially throwing off hackers from trying to encrypt the drive with Ransomware.

More on the Best Protection Against Ransomware Scares:

No one want’s to have a similar scare as Rokenbok Education had only over a year ago. Instead, keep these data backup recommendations in mind when you search for just the right one, so your company’s information is not taken hostage. For some additional guidance Total Computer Solutions offers a free review of your current solution and make recommendations on how to improve.

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