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Acronis plans free ransomware protection

Back-up specialist Acronis has already incorporated ransomware protection into its back-up products, and is now planning to release a standalone version of the technology.

Acronis plans to make its Active Protection technology available to everyone, chief revenue officer Jan-Jaap Jager told iTWire.

Active Protection is an AI-based system for detecting ransomware that is already built into Acronis Backup and Acronis True Image. It works by establishing normal patterns of activity, and then blocks anything abnormal until the user says they trust the software that's behaving suspiciously.

"With that you can have true zero-day protection," explained Jager.

Traditional anti-malware products were still important, he said, but the emergence of so many strains of ransomware meant a way was needed to nip attacks in the bud, rather than waiting for the ability to detect each new variant.

The free, standalone implementation of Active Protection would be released within the next two months, Jager said.

A characteristic of the Active Protection feature of the Acronis back-up products is that if ransomware manages to encrypt any files before being blocked, they are restored from the most recent back-up. Similarly, any other files altered by the malware (eg, by injecting code into system files) will be restored to their pre-infection state.

It was not clear from Jager's description whether standalone Active Protection would integrate with other vendors' back-up software to achieve this, or whether it would be left as an advantage of Acronis Backup and Acronis True Image.

But Jager did say that no other back-up vendor has built this type of protection into their software, and pointed out that the integration of anti-ransomware and back-up makes life simpler for users: when something goes wrong, "just click on a button... and it restores the original [state]."

It does make sense for Acronis — and other back-up vendors, for that matter — to provide ransomware protection at no extra charge. The reason is that cloud back-up services usually charge for back-up, but effectively allow free recovery, even though there are direct costs to the provider. Significantly reducing the incidence of one of the main reasons for a full recovery will also reduce the provider's operational costs.

Additional functionality built on Active Protection will appear around the middle of the year, Jager told iTWire, but would not be drawn on its nature.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.