Hikvision Senior Director of Cybersecurity Data Backups Tips: An Easy Way to Ensure Against Hacks and Ransomware
Three Cyber Threats that Explain Why You Need to Backup Your Data
Hikvision’s senior director of cybersecurity, Chuck Davis, has written numerous recent blogs on the rise in COVID-19 phishing attacks, hacks and vulnerability exploits. Today, he writes about why we should backup our data.
Backups: Easy as F-A-V-E-1-2-3
Backing up data is something we have been told to do for decades but it is not exciting nor fun, and very easy to forget. Additionally, situations requiring the need to restore a file from backup can be rare so it’s easy to understand why many people don’t back up their files, even though it’s an important part of life with computers. Think of backups like an insurance policy. You do it in case you need it and hope that you never need to use it.
Why Do We Need Backups?
Simply stated, we need backups to prevent data loss. That loss could be caused by a technical failure, theft, fire, a cyberattack, or something we haven’t even thought of yet. Imagine that you are an author finishing up a novel. The hundreds of pages of typed data are the culmination of your work for over a year. Maybe you’re computer-savvy and backup your computer when you think about it, but the last time you thought about it was months ago because you have been laser-focused on finishing this novel. Once you completed the manuscript, but before you sent that document off to the editor, your computer was stolen from your car, and the better part of a year’s worth of work is gone forever.
This type of story happens more frequently than most people realize, and it’s not just theft that is a concern. A computer crash, liquid damage, or a malware infection could also cause catastrophic data loss. Let’s dig a bit deeper into these threats.
- Hardware failure threat: In the past, the main reason we backed up data was because we were concerned about computer or hard drive failure. This was a real concern before the cloud era because most people created and stored data only on their computer. Hard drives were kinetic, with moving parts and something as simple as dropping a laptop could cause drive failure and data loss. While a laptop falling from a table or backpack can still cause damage, it is less likely these days because laptop storage has become more resistant to vibration damage as solid state drives are more prevalent now. Another hardware failure scenario could be caused by liquid damage from rain, coffee spills or an unfortunate altercation with a bowl of Spaghetti-O’s. This is also a modern-day concern, especially as more people work from home or other remote locations.
- Loss or theft of hardware threat: Generally, the theft of a computer is an easy thing to prevent. Keep your computer with you, or out of sight from potential thieves. When I worked at IBM years ago, we had a corporate policy that stated, when leaving your laptop in a car, you must cable lock it in the trunk. That way the laptop was out of site but was also somewhat difficult to steal if someone got into the trunk. It’s actually pretty shocking how many people still have laptops stolen each year.
- Ransomware threat: This diabolical form of malware is silently installed on someone’s computer after they fall for a phishing attack. You won’t know that your computer is infected with ransomware until it is too late. Ransomware quietly encrypts all of the files and folders on your computer, and any data on connected USB or mounted shared drives, and then uploads the decryption key to the threat actor who tricked you into installing the ransomware. You then see a screen show up on your computer that informs you that your data is encrypted and to get the key to decrypt your files, you have to pay a ransom to the threat actor. Ransoms are often hundreds or thousands of U.S. dollars and are collected in bitcoin so it’s difficult to trace. The good news is, if you have a good backup, you can ignore the ransom and reinstall your operating system and restore your files. While ransomware is evil, it did give us one thing, we can now put a dollar value on backups. In addition to your time, a good and timely backup is at least worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
There is also the unexpected threat: What if your cloud provider is compromised or DDoS’d, goes out of business, or its assets are seized and frozen? I know these are all far-fetched scenarios, but so was the idea that in 2020 we would all be quarantined at home due to a global pandemic. Treat your data as if it is a valuable asset.
Visit our blog tomorrow where we’ll be posting more insights into backup strategy, including where to backup your data.