Ransomware antidote: Cloud Backup with Versioning

Ransomware has been playing havoc every few months. Most of the Users who have fallen victim to it, have either lost their years of data or have paid ransom in Bitcoin to get their data back, in the absence of a Cloud Backup. Let’s understand what actually happens, and how you can safeguard yourself.

Ransomware is a sophisticated form of a virus attack. Just like other viruses, it spreads between users via email, network shared and infected pen drives. Once it infects your PC, it starts encrypting every data file on your PC with a unique encryption key, which is nothing but a very long password.

This is actually one of the methods of data encryption, to prevent a 3rd party from reading your data, without knowing the encryption password. The virus creators have turned the table on us, and have now encrypted our own data.

They transmit this key to their servers and then put up a message on your PC asking you to pay them a ransom to reveal this secret key. They also provide a short time limit of usually 48 hours to pay the ransom, beyond which they delete your secret key.

What are the remedies for Ransomware attack?

Now the user has only 3 options with him:

  1. Format / clean the device, and Restore previously backed up data
  2. Buy Bitcoins (or other cryptocurrencies), Pay up the ransom amount and get the secret key to decrypt the data. Remember, if you do this, you must immediately backup your data, and then clean up your PC. After all, who likes to become a victim again? 🙂
  3. If none of the above suits you, Forget about your data.

Ways to protect your data:

There are 3 primary approaches to safeguarding your data.

  1. Avoid becoming a sitting duck to attacks.
    1. Keep your system always updated.
    2. Disable network file sharing on your PC especially if you use public WIFI networks.
    3. Do not install any pirated/cracked Use a good antivirus on your PC.
    4. Use email attachments with caution, especially if they have come from unknown senders.
    5. Be careful of phishing emails which may trick you into clicking on dangerous links
    6. Use a good spam & virus filtering service for your emails, to block out dangerous emails before they reach your mailbox.

    All these, when done diligently, can minimise the chances of your PC being infected by the ransomware virus.

  2. Maintain cloud backup of the data, that supports data versioning.

What is Backup Data Versioning?

Backup data versioning ensures your backup tool allows you to restore data from multiple recovery points in the past. If your backup maintains only the current data state, that is useful in cases of disk failure. It is not of much use if the ransomware encrypted file gets updated to your backup location too.

If you restore such a file, all you will get is the encrypted file which will be of no use. This is especially the case with tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive among others.

Instead, use a cloud backup service that maintains multiple versions of your file, so that you can recover the file as on a particular date that you know when your files were not encrypted by the virus.

The cost of this approach is far lesser than the ransom amount. It can never surpass the peace of mind you get when you know your data is safe offsite.

The cloud backup service, in fact, should be likened to an insurance policy, which you pray you never need to use. However, if things go wrong, it helps you get back on track reliably.

The added benefit of cloud backup services is that your data is stored securely in data centers, and the upkeep/maintenance of the systems is taken care of by the service provider such as AWS. Their S3 storage service makes multiple copies of your data on different devices, which leads to 99.999999999% reliability and 99.99% availability. Economies of scale at cloud providers ensure the cost of services remains among the lowest.

AWS also has authorised consulting partners such as Interpole, who has certified and trained personnel that is qualified to architect, deploy and manage solutions on AWS platform. The advantage of working with a consulting partner is that they can tailor make a solution as per client needs, re-package AWS services in an easy-to-consume fashion, and provide personalised hand-holding and support to the end customer.

About InterPole

InterPole was established in 1996 and has been engaged in web hosting, email, and management of IT infrastructure. InterPole pioneered with Virtual Private Servers in 2004 and Cloud Hosting in 2008. Over the years, InterPole has worked with over 6200 mid-sized businesses and startups, and have assisted them in their journey towards the adoption of modern technologies through the Internet. InterPole is a Standard Consulting Partner of Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure. With this partnership, provides Managed AWS service and maintains a team of engineers who are trained and certified for the specific cloud platforms. These benefits companies in defining their cloud strategy and making a well-planned journey, reliably and cost-effectively.