It is very important in this digital age to protect your data as there are many people out there who will seek to cause havoc or extort people for money. There are no shortage of phishing scams around – fraudulent emails pretending to be from banks, PayPal or mysterious Nigerian benefactors prepared to hand over millions to you in exchange for personal and/or financial details.
This leads me on to backups, particularly off-site backups and cloud data storage. Anti-malware programs can remove the Cryptolocker virus but its damage cannot easily be reversed. Once the data has been encrypted, it needs a key to be unencrypted, one that cannot be obtained by brute force. Therefore the only way to get the data back is to restore from backup. If the backups are done locally, to an external hard drive for example, the data can be recovered very quickly. But the disadvantage of a local backup is that if something happens to that drive, it gets dropped or damaged in some other way, then that data could also be at risk.
It is a good idea to also back up your data to the cloud. What is the cloud? I hear you ask. Well it is simply a computer in a datacentre somewhere which is hosting your data. Examples are OneDrive (SkyDrive), Dropbox and iCloud. These services allow you to store data securely but to all intensive purposes your data behaves if it is local. You can drag and drop your data to these services as if they were local to your computer. But the data is really even more secure because it is being housed in a datacentre which is highly secure and has rigorous protection systems, much safer than on your own computer.
Back to the Cryptolocker virus. It’s important to deal with any virus attack as soon as possible, particularly with this one. The sooner action is taken, the more chance you have of a full recovery and minimising the damage. I had a client last year who had this virus but fortunately he called me straight away and I was able to restore backups of the files before they were overwritten.
In summary, don’t neglect to backup your data! It has been said that 70% of all small businesses shut down within 12 months after a catastrophic data loss. Whether this is accurate or not, it is still a sobering thought.
Causes of data loss include:
- Hardware or power failure
- Accidental deletion or overwriting of data
- Cyber attack, phishing scams, certain types of malware e.g. Cryptolocker
- Fire, flood or some other type of natural disaster
Do you have a backup strategy in place?