Do you remember about the 3-2-1 rule of backups? Plenty of back-up companies talk about it because it's a crucial rule to follow so you're never caught out by an unexpected realised threat to your data.
But what is it again? Well, it's a very simple but effective rule: make sure you have at least three total copies of your data, two of which are local but on different storage devices, and at least one copy offsite.
The rule should actually be changed to 3-2-2, because offsite has more than one meaning – it could mean securely stored at your home, office or other location like a safety deposit box in a bank that offers such things, or a secure storage company, and it could and should also mean the cloud.
Then there's the other side of the back-up equation, which is the successful restoration of your data. How many people do back-ups, but never check that their data is readable and restorable? Have YOU tested the restorability of your data?
So, when one of the world's top back-up, data protection, anti-ransomware, disaster recovery, and secure data access providers to consumers, small-medium businesses, and enterprises warns about 2018 being the "worst year for data loss incidents and cybe rattacks", and urges immediate action to prepare — which it did on March 30, the eve of World Backup Day on March 31 — it could well be the wake-up call you need to bounce back from trouble and stay in business, or not lose precious family photos, or other documents.
After all, hack attacks, more malware, ever more ferocious ransomware and low awareness of ransomware among users is a recipe for complete disaster, and unless you're prepared, you're preparing to lose.
So, what has Acronis uncovered in its new data protection survey?
Well, we're told that:
- Over 60% of respondents have never heard of ransomware, an expensive attack that is predicted to cost more than US $11 billion in 2019, up from US $5 billion last year.
- In 2017, the number of ransomware variants increased by 46%, making prevention and detection more challenging.
- Security experts expect the cyber threat to keep growing, with ransomware attacking a business every 14 seconds in the next two years, up from 40 seconds this year, and it does include attacks individuals, which are much more frequent.
Thus it comes as no surprise to see Acronis warnsing that only "a high-quality, secure backup solution that integrates proactive protection against ransomware can prevent data loss and protect devices".
Naturally, Acronis provides such services, but with plenty of back-up alternatives out there, the most important thing is to back-up, back-up, back-up and test your back-ups, no matter whose solutions you choose to use, whether you roll your own manual back-up solutions, cobble together your own online and offline strategies, or use one or more providers to automate everything for you.
So, back to the Acronis survey.
Its next tidbit of information exclaims that "without the understanding of what ransomware is, and how to prevent being a victim of this cyberattack, the cost to people and businesses will only increase.
"Ransomware criminals have perfected their social engineering skills and continue to take advantage of security flaws that bypass traditional anti-virus software, which is unable to detect such attacks", and according to the Ponemon Institute, "69% of organisations don't believe their antivirus can stop the threats they're seeing".
"In addition," we're told that "because cyber criminals recognise how effective back-up is at thwarting their attacks, many new strains of ransomware now target backup files and backup software.
"Sixty-two percentof survey respondents didn’t know that ransomware can encrypt files and back-ups," while an "even more staggering 33% reported that they don’t back up their data."
As you'd expect, Acronis notes that "only secure back-up solutions, such as Acronis Backup and Acronis True Image, which include an AI-based active protection defence against ransomware, are capable of detecting and blocking these sophisticated attacks".
John Zanni, president of Acronis, said: "Ransomware attacks have made headlines over the past year. Yet despite the growing number attacks, the awareness of the problem and the importance of preventing the attacks seem to be slowing down.
“Awareness to help people realise the importance of securely backing up and protecting data needs to grow. As part of our 15th anniversary, we’re committed to helping people protect their data, no matter where it resides.”
When then hear from Robert Westervelt, research director, Security Products at IDC, who said: "Ransomware is a silent killer of all exposed information worldwide. The recent rounds of ransomware attacks proved that businesses and institutions across the globe underestimated this growing threat.
"The biggest concern is that those affected are willing to pay ransom rather than proactively protect their systems and devises. However this growing threat forced companies, like Acronis, to develop innovative technologies and help companies and users all over the world fight ransomware attacks".
Acronis tells us that last month, it "completed a consumer survey regarding data protection, polling the general internet population in seven different countries, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany, Spain, France and Japan."
Additional results include:
• Nearly 39% of the respondents have four or more devices in their household, meaning more end points and data to protect.
• Over 29% of the respondents experienced data loss.
There's a series of charts below that include more information from this consumer survey.
Now, it's important to note that Acronis is one of the very few companies with consumer and business protection against ransomware, which it calls "Acronis Active Protection" – for PCs and Macs.
The company says that, "as a response to the growing ransomware epidemic, Acronis enhanced its backup solutions with innovative new anti-ransomware technology. Debuted in January 2017, Acronis Active Protection actively defends both user files and their backups by identifying and blocking ransomware attacks in real-time. In the last twelve months, Acronis Active Protection stopped 200,000 attacks across 180,000 consumer devices".
Acronis also introduced "Acronis Active Protection Free, an additional level of defence that can be used together with other data protection solutions, such as anti-virus and back-up software from other vendors. It monitors system processes in real-time to automatically detect and stop the attacks other solutions can’t. In event of a ransomware attack, Acronis Ransomware Protection blocks the malicious process and notifies the user with a popup. If any files were damaged in the attack, it facilitates the instant recovery of those affected files".
You can also see a video interview conducted by iTWire with Acronis' chief marketing officer, Gaidar Magdanurov, during the Pepcom 2018 event on the sidelines of CES 2018 events about Acronis' new Active Protection and the newly released free version, too, just a little further below.
So, what is the advice from Acronis for World Back-up Day, which in my own personal books should be every day of the year?
The company offers "four easy steps to protect data":
- Always have a back-up of your important data. Store your data locally and in the cloud.
- Keep your operating system and software up to date. It will block cyber criminals from entering your system through any known security holes.
- Be mindful of suspicious email, links, and attachments. The most effective infiltration method used by ransomware criminals is getting users to open infected email attachments and to click on links to malicious websites.
- Install antivirus software on your computer and enable automatic signature updates. If you are on a PC, make sure your Windows Defender is enabled and is up to date.
Here's the special mini-site that Acronis created for World Backup Day.
Here's my video interview with Gaidar Magdanurov during Pepcom 2018 in Las Vegas during CES 2018:
Please turn phone sideways to view full images: