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Say No to Ransomware! Back up Your Files

Updated on October 31, 2015

The Rise Of Ransomware

For years now, experts in computers and internet security have noted that the cases of infections from ransomware-type programs are growing fast and steadily. Never heard of "ransomware" before? Here’s a simple definition from Wikipedia:

Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access to a computer system that it infects in some way, and demands that the user pay a ransom to the operators of the malware to remove the restriction.

Essentially, a ransomware application will first somehow manage to infiltrate and infect your system. Most computers get infected from “suspicious” websites, malicisious mail and already storage units like usb sticks. The malware then proceeds by encrypting certain files and greatly restricting computer access. Often, it will block important files and features, leaving the user with two options. The first is a disk format and a fresh OS install.

The second option is for the user-victim to make a payment of a certain sum, as ransom to get his files and access back. Thus, the “ransomware” name. Typically, this amount will range anywhere from $ 100- $ 500. But be aware! Payment does not guarantee that you will actually get your digital treasures back!

This is why it is so important to backup your files on a regular basis. Otherwise, you might fall victim to such programs. In case you wonder, some of them are:

  • Cryptolocker
  • Cryptowall
  • CTB Locker
  • Cryptorbit

How to Properly Protect Yourself?

First of all, you might want to think what files do you really need to backup? Just use some common sense. Personally, I just backup files and documents that are important to me or have sentimental value. Oh yes, and my beloved music collection that I have built over the years.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, if you upload each and every of your photo on facebook and instragram then there is no reason to keep a back up of your photos. They already are in the cloud!

By backing up your files you don’t have to worry about nasty ransomware. You will never be in the unfortunate position of having to choose between a risky payment or permanently losing your files.

Now let's see what options you have...

Types of back up

Ok, you are convinced. But how to back up your files? Basically, there are two ways to ensure the security of your documents and files.

1. External backup

A few years ago, before the whole “cloud” thing, this was the only way to back up your data. And even now it is a very effective, reliable and relatively cost-effective method. If you decide go external I think you should get an external hard drive. Gigabytes come dirt-cheap and they are plug and play. Of course you can get a simple usb-stick if you don’t need much storage...

CDs, DVDs and blu-rays are another option but who has time for that?

However, my humble opinion is that an external backup is not the safest route to take. First, these storage units can be damaged by several factors. Also, ransomwares have evolved and will often infect your external hard-drive or stick if it happens to be attached when the infection occurs. Not to mention that they will often go “dormant” for some time in an effort to infect as many devices as possible before asking for…ransom!

External Hard Drive
External Hard Drive
Immortal Files (Running on Mac)
Immortal Files (Running on Mac)

2. Cloud backup

The second and probably the best way to keep your files safe! What I love about this method is that you can make backups without even realizing it, as the process can be automated.

The only con of the cloud is that you need internet access. You are reading this article so chances are that you do ;) There are hundreds of options from which to choose. Yeah you can go for the free ones like Google Drive and Dropbox. And for most people these options are more than enough.

But if you are like me, looking for the best security and data safety you probably want to go for a paid service. My personal favorite is immortal files. The app offers some really great features and I love how it automates the process of backing up your files both on the cloud and in external storage devices of your choise.

Safe In The Cloud!
Safe In The Cloud!

Prevention is better than cure

Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And backing up your data is just one of the weapons you have against ransomware and other nasty malware like viruses and trojan horses. Make sure your firewall is always activated and that you have an antivirus always running on the background.

Personally, I just use the default windows firewall and the free version of Avast-antivirus. Never had any problems, and if I ever do I have the piece of mind that my data are always backed and safe somewhere…in the cloud!

Do you back up your files?

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