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More than just a backup: Take steps to secure your data

In the light of new malware and viruses that can infect attached and networked drives, having a simple backup solution is no longer enough.


The of the most important security steps any PC user can take to secure their computer and personal data is an up-to-date backup of all data and files, but is that enough to guarantee the security of your system? Recent history has shown that some malicious software, like Cryptolocker, can infect or even deny access to data and backups on external connected drives.

In order to secure the data stored in your backups, as well as your PC , certain steps should be taken. Here are a few options you can take to maximize the safety of your data backups.

Disconnect external backup drives

A simple step to secure your backup data from malicious software infection is to disconnect the external backup drive or hardware after each backup. With the knowledge that software like Cyrptolocker and other Ransomware varieties are specifically designed to target connected external drives, disconnecting the external drive after each backup protects the data in case of infection. This step can be more inconvenient on a daily basis by adding extra steps to an already configured backup plan, but is a great habit to become accustomed to.

For an added layer of protection against infection and disaster, save your backup on different types of less-volatile media or in an off-site location. First, storing your backup in a safe deposit box or in a location away from your local PC provides for disaster recovery protection in case of fires, floods, and other natural disasters. In the case of less-volatile storage media, keeping backups on optical drive media provides security from Ransomware and other virus that target connected drives, but can be time consuming and less effective when using today's huge storage drives.

Use the cloud

Along with local backups, consider using a cloud backup service as an off-site backup solution. As of now, cloud backup applications run as background services and are not normally recognized by malicious software as attached or networked drives. This makes the cloud backup less likely to become infected or disabled by malware.

One of the features of cloud storage solutions that make your backup less vulnerable to infection is that the cloud storage services use different storage formats than your local PC. While this will not guarantee protection from the most advanced forms of malware, it will add a layer of security against the most common forms.

One important note: be sure to turn off incremental or automated updates in your cloud backup service. Keeping your local data automatically synced to your cloud backup could inadvertently synchronize your infection as well.

There should be more than one

The last step to creating a backup that is secure and protected from infection by today's most dangerous malware, ransomware, and viruses is to store multiple backups, not just a copy of a copy. A strong backup plan will have an external backup, an off-site backup on a flash drive or other storage media, and then a cloud backup, which provides the most flexibility in restoring data after a catastrophic event.

For another added layer of security, keep multiple versions of backups stored at each location. This step provides options in the event that a backup becomes infected inadvertently by allowing for multiple backup options.

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