When someone hears Malware Protection, they often think about anti-virus and anti-malware software. The industry would like you to believe it is the number one factor to help prevent malware from destroying your data and files.
Unfortunately anti-virus software has a pretty miserable detection/success rate. Norton (maker of Symantec Anti-Virus) has said that 55% of all malicious attacks pass straight through their software. It’s only getting worse over time.
I have fixed many systems infected with Malware. One thing I find in common is the misconception people have that it protects them well. So what is the solution? Backups.
Data backups help to ensure your data and files are not lost only to natural disasters, but also intentional and malicious attacks. Unfortunately many people have another misconception about protection. That is, they believe just backing up their files to an external hard drive or flash drive, and keeping this in their home, is a good solution.
While any backup is a good backup, you want to make sure you have several different types of backups:
1) A rotating/revolving backup
a. Definition: Backing up updated/new files to a reusable medium, such as a flash drive, external hard drive, re-writable DVD, etc.
b. Pros: Quick and easy. It is also very cost effective since reusing same media.
c. Cons: You may backup corrupt files and overwrite “good” files with “bad” versions. This can happen if your hard drive begins to develop bad sectors, your computer gets infected with Ransomware (encrypting all your files), or hackers/viruses/malware damage. The media itself may become corrupted as it ages, leaving some of your backed up files unrecoverable. This may also be susceptible to Ransomware infecting your backed up files as the external media is plugged into the computer (scary).
2) Periodic snapshot backups
a. Definition: Full backups of your data on “write once” media, such as CDs, DVDs, cheap flash drives, etc. Typically should be performed every 1 to 3 months.
b. Pros: Prevents data corruption issues as described in 1c above. If you do discover files were corrupted a year ago (that you just now tried to access), you can go back to the snapshot before this and recover most of your files.
c. Cons: Much slower and may be more expensive in the long run.
3) Local backup
a. Definition: The backup media is stored at the same location as the device that was the source of the backup.
b. Pros: Easy and convenient. Also easy/quick to restore. Typically more secure since data backup is not hooked up to a network/Internet, and only physical access (theft) can result in data being stolen.
c. Cons: Natural disasters can destroy your backups/data, leaving you with nothing.
4) Remote offline backup
a. Definition: The backup media is stored at a different/remote location, unconnected to any network. An example is a safe deposit box at a bank.
b. Pros: Extremely safe from natural disasters and hackers/thieves.
c. Cons: Very inconvenient because of physical transportation of backups. Possible added expense for renting/owning the remote location.
5) Remote online backup
a. Definition: The backup media is stored at a different/remote location and is online/connected to the Internet/network. This is typically thought of as cloud storage.
b. Pros: Very convenient. Can be configured to happen automatically in the background. Depending on cloud solution, can possibly even have snapshots/versions of data backups.
c. Cons: Much more prone to hackers gaining access to your data. Good encryption architecture (in which you choose the password) can definitely help, but nothing connected to a network is “hack proof”.
6) Different physical media backups
a. Definition: The physical material/architecture that stores the data backup.
b. Typical/Modern Types:
i. Optical (DVD, CD, etc.)
1. Drive is mechanical to spin disc
2. Light used to read data
ii. Solid-state drives (Flash, SSDs, etc.)
2. No moving parts
iii. Hard disk drives
1. Drive and storage media is mechanical
2. Magnetic (could be wiped out from powerful magnetic surge)
If you cover all these bases, you should feel confident your data will be protected from pretty much all perspectives (fire, flood, tornado, malicious software, hackers, etc.). Does that mean you should do snapshot backups on all the different media types? Not necessarily. You could mix in different types every so many months, just to ensure you haven’t “put all your eggs in one basket”. The longevity of some media is still relatively unknown, so it’s always best to use different types (especially for critical data that you never want to lose).
If you do happen to get infected with malware that damages/destroys your data, no problem! You can simply restore to what you had before because you were wise and followed good backup procedures. Your biggest cost will be paying an expert to remove the malware and/or the time loss for performing a potential system restore. It’s never too early to start, so I recommend doing so today.
Note: In addition to malware removal, we provide secure and encrypted cloud backups using our ES Imaging product. For more information, please visit our website at: http://www.everlastsoftware.com.
Owner of Everlast Software, LLC
How do you dispel the idea that computer people are all knowing?
An acquaintance and I were pondering the challenge of this seemingly pervasive idea that computer professionals formed an all-knowing brother/sisterhood. And how it leads to frustration for the client.
Nor does it seem to matter if the person is in web hosting (my acquaintance), social media (me), computer repair, or web design - many of the questions that come in don't fit the individual’s field. And one cannot blame the client for asking, since computers can be challenging and mysterious, with so many details to understand. It can also be granted that if you work in a computer-related field that you pick up some of the various in's - and out's, and some of those can be used to help the clients.
It is because computers and the Internet are so complex that it is impossible for one person to know its whole scope. It is also this vastness that is frightening to your client, and once they have someone knowledgeable and trustworthy they want to depend on them to solve all the mysteries.
I am not sure there is an easy way to deal with the unspoken belief. The best I can come up with is recognition of the belief, and honesty about the limits of one's knowledge. Of course, what it also argues for is having a good network of various experts to call on when your client brings you a question you can't answer.
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.