With the continued proliferation of computer malware, including the ever-increasing threat of ransomare, I want to share with you my concern, and the importance of regularly doing AND checking multiple forms of data backup. Please protect your data!
Ransomware is malicious software that will attempt to infect your computer, encrypt your data, and then ask for a ransom of $500 or more to get your data back. These threats are real, serious, and can destroy your data with no way to recover unless you have good data backups.
Back up your data by two or more means. Think “3-2-1:” Three copies, two types of media, one off-site. I recommend at minimum rotating, off-site external hard drive backups which you plug in to backup, and unplug after making backups, plus at least one cloud-based backup like Carbonite or CrashPlan. Online backup cost is low, starting at $60/year for unlimited storage. Then check your backups regularly to insure that your backups are working correctly. Your backups are all you can count on to recover your data if you get struck by ransomeware, fire, theft, flood, or some other data-destroying event.
- Backup your data often, and check your backups regularly. Think “3-2-1.”
- Work day-to-day on your computer as a standard user, not as a user with administrator rights.
- Don’t allow anything to install on your computer unless you specifically asked for it or know it’s from a legitimate automatic update process.
- Use a good antivirus. For Windows I recommend Symantec Endpoint Protection, Norton Security, NOD32, or Kaspersky.
- Change your passwords periodically, make them long, complex, and unique, and store them in a good password vault like LastPass (https://lastpass.com).
- Use two-factor authentication whenever it’s offered. Example: https://www.google.com/landing/2step
- Encrypt your sensitive data. There are several good encryption solutions available.
- Encrypt your WiFi, use a good firewall/router, and keep it updated.
Marc Goodman publishes a book titled Future Crimes, which I recommend reading. Please look for his tips on http://www.futurecrimesbook.com. These tips, called The UPDATE Protocol, are a good cheat sheet of best practices on computer security.
You are responsible for your own data and online behavior, but I am here to help. Please let me know if you want help in securing your computer, online accounts and data, and/or want guidance in how to regularly check your data backups.