Technology has helped to revolutionize just about every industry over the past several decades. While there is no doubt that tech has dramatically improved the way work is done, it has also introduced a number of huge threats that simply didn’t exist not so long ago. One modern threat that all companies (and individuals for that matter) need to be aware of. That threat is a type of malware known as ransomware.
In many ways, ransomware is one of the most serious threats to companies today. This is because by using only a relatively simple piece of software, attackers can completely cripple a business. If the business is not prepared, they will only have two options. Pay the attackers the ransom that they demand, or completely wipe their computer systems and start from scratch.
Neither of these options are good, and for many companies, both would be seen as entirely unacceptable. Having good system security in place is critical, but the reality is that no computer systems are 100% safe.
If your computer systems are somehow infected with ransomware, the fastest and easiest way to get things back up and running without paying the ransom is to restore everything from backups. For this to work, however, you need to have the right backup strategy in place ahead of time, which requires some work.
Follow the tips on this page to learn how to create an effective data backup strategy that will let you quickly restore everything back to normal in the event of a ransomware attack.
Use Offline or Cloud Based Backups
One of the things that makes ransomware especially dangerous is that once it infects one system, it takes time to replicate itself through as many systems as possible to maximize impact. This is why it is absolutely critical that your backed up data is kept offline, on the cloud, or in another state where there is no active connection to it except during the actual backup process.
In addition, you should configure your backup strategy to ensure you have multiple copies of your data, which are never connected at the same time. Taking these steps will help to ensure that you always have at least one recent backup that has not been infected with the ransomware.
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Combine Frequent Backups of Changes with Occasional Full Backups
Many businesses today are constantly performing transactions and other actions that causes a change in data. This means that as soon as a backup is made, it is out of date. The more time that passes between backups, the further out of date they will be.
Frequent backups are great for keeping the data accurate, but they do put your backup systems at risk of being infected with the malware. The best way to combat this is to combine frequent backups of changes only with occasional full backups. The following backup schedule can be very effective for companies that have lots of critical data that is changed on a regular basis:
- Create a Full Backup that is Stored Offline
- Perform Change Only Backups Every 10 Minutes
- Perform New Full Backups Nightly
- Keep Seven Days’ Worth of Full Backups
Using a strategy like this will provide you with access to all the data on your system (with the possible exception of what was created within the last 10 minutes). In addition, you will have offline copies of data that is at most 24 hours old and not exposed to any possible new infections from ransomware or other issues.
The data for these backups should be kept separate (either physically or at least logically) so that they cannot both be exposed to threats. On top of being a great way to ensure you always have a recent backup point in the event that you are exposed to ransomware, this method also reduces the amount of bandwidth and disk space you use for your data backup and restoration processes.
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Harness the Safety of Immutable Storage
When data is stored on a drive it will remain in place until it is overwritten with something new. The ability to have storage drives overwrite data is one of the ways that they are able to efficiently use the amount of disk space that is available.
When performing backups of key data, however, it is a best practice to make sure that the information cannot be modified needlessly. While this will require a greater amount of disk space than is strictly necessary, using immutable blocks helps to prevent backed up data from getting overwritten with infected blocks.
Only after a specific backup has expired will the storage it is using be set to read/write and be able to be used again for new data.
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Consider Multiple Data Backup Services
All data that is saved by a company is going to be important, but not all data should be considered equal and treated the same. Most companies will have certain types of data that is more important than others. For example, customer transaction information is going to be more essential than employee seating charts.
With this in mind, companies that have certain data that absolutely cannot be lost should consider setting up two (or more) backup services. The primary backup solution can perform the needed backups as mentioned above.
A secondary solution can exclusively perform backups of the business-critical data. This will give you multiple options for restoring this data should your systems become infected with ransomware or other problems.
Comprehensive IT Security Strategies
There is no doubt that a good data backup and restoration policy is critical for protecting your business from ransomware and many other threats. The reality is, however, that this should be seen as a last line of defense. If you are worried about ransomware (and you should be), you need to have a good comprehensive IT security strategy in place.
This type of strategy will help to minimize the risk of your systems getting infected in the first place, perform real-time malware scanning to react to a threat before it causes trouble, and reduce the damage should something happen. This multi-tiered approach, which includes a good backup and restoration strategy, will help to keep your business safe no matter what comes your way.
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