How to protect your data from system failure or ransomware

How to protect your data from system failure or ransomware
MOAR cat videos, less stress



Singaporeans are a technology-savvy bunch. With a population of approximately 5.74-million, we have an internet penetration of 82% and spend more than 7 hours per day on the internet. Even though the number of people browsing the internet via mobile devices has been steadily on the rise, the computer is still the number 1 choice for Singaporeans, with 91% of us using it every day.

For most of us, our computers are used for surfing the internet, emails, assignments and cat videos on Youtube. It is also a depository of photos of loved ones, videos taken during a holiday, financial records and medical documents. While some are easily replaceable than others, the sudden loss of these data can be a traumatic experience for anyone.

In a recent survey conducted globally with more than 10,000 respondents, users responded that they would pay up to about S$500 to recover their data, in the event of a hardware failure. However, when pushed further, the prices that the respondents are willing to pay continued to rise, venturing into the S$1,000 mark and then some. While some companies can offer to recover your data at a cost, your data can never be fully recovered, and there’s always the fear of your data and financial documents abused by those you task to recover your data.

With the rise of ransomware, things are a lot more complicated. Hackers effectively lock your computer and tells you to pay the ransom, in order to gain access to your computer. Payment is usually in the form of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. You can choose to pay the ransom, but there is never any guarantee that the hackers will unlock your computer, or don’t hack you again in the future.

The recent Petya / NotPetya virus is even more dangerous. It masquerades as a ransomware, but proceeds to wipe your entire storage drive clean. Even if you eventually manage to gain access to your hard drive, everything is lost forever.

So damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

What are my options?
But not all is lost, because if you develop the habit of backing up your data regularly, you can always recover the information via your external hard disk drive, or from cloud storage. In the case of hardware failure, you can either choose to repair the faulty component, or purchase a new computer. These options can range anywhere between S$500 for a new motherboard for a laptop, to over S$2,000 for a brand new computer. In either case you would have to reinstall your operating system, reconfigure your operating system settings from scratch, connect to the Internet, install your drivers and anti-virus software, and then begin to restore your files from your backup.

If this entire process sounds needlessly complicated and exhausting, it’s because it is. You would be restoring years of compounded data and files that could potentially take hours or even days to restore, depending on your total file size, or in the case of restoring from cloud, bandwidth connection.

To save yourself from the long-drawn misery, you could invest in a full-image backup solution, such as the Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation. A full-image backup means that the Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation copies your entire operating system, including your settings, preferences, drivers, files, folders and data. It even copies your entire operating system and, yes, even your wallpaper.

If you’ve installed Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation on your computer prior to a hardware failure, you can simply install and run it from your repaired or new computer, and let it take care of the rest. The Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation will not only restore your data, but will also actively update your system drivers for compatibility, especially crucial if you purchased a new computer. Once restored, it’ll work and look exactly the same as your previous computer.

Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation versus manual restoration: a real-world comparison
We ran a simulated test with the following specifications and environment:

Processor
:
Intel Core i3 2.1GHz
Memory (RAM)
:
4GB
Storage Type
:
SATA Hard Drive, 5400RPM
Storage Space Total
:
500GB
Storage Space Utilized
:
480GB
USB Connectivity
:
USB 2.0, 480mbps
Internet Connectivity
:
Cable, 200mbps

Restoration Scenario
Restoration Duration*
From external HDD (USB 3.0) with Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation
Up to 1-hour
From cloud backup with Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation
Up to 6-hours
From cloud backup without Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation (manual download)
Up to 24-hours or more
Notes:
·         Simulated test was conducted in a home environment with a laptop from late 2015.
·         Cloud restoration duration is dependent on Internet connectivity and speed. Results may vary.

The above test clearly shows that using Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation significantly reduces the restoration time, and lets you get back on with your life. Think of it as an insurance policy: You may never see the tangible benefits when everything is peachy, but you will be thankful when things do eventually go kaput.

What about ransomware attacks?
So at least we’ve got the hardware failure bit out of the way. What about ransomware?

The premium edition of the Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation features the new Acronis Active Protection, a solution that actively monitors and blocks ransomware from the start of the attack.

Unlike traditional anti-virus, Acronis uses heuristics instead of signatures to seek out malicious processes that are an early sign of a ransomware attack.

What’s the difference between signature-based detection and heuristics-based detection? Think of signature-based detection as your current job title, and that everyone only knows you from your job title. That’s similar to how signature-based detection works. It recognizes only one part of the virus and uses that signature to block and eliminate the virus.

Heuristics-based detection can be likened to people knowing your entire life, leading up to your current job title. Heuristics looks at the entire process of the attack, from the processes that start the attack. The moment it realizes that an unusual behavior, Acronis Active Protection will block the process, and provide you with a notification, asking you if you initiated it or not. If you did not, it is flagged as an attempted ransomware attack, Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation would block the ransomware and immediately restore your files in seconds.

That’s right. Seconds. Take for example a Word document that measures only 20kb. Acronis Active Protection can restore the Word file from the Windows cache in less than a second. That 20mb presentation you’ve been working on got hit by ransomware? Acronis Active Protection will restore than in less than a minute. You get the picture.


The Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation Premium subscription can be purchased at http://www.acronis.com/en-sg/personal/buy-backup for a limited time offer only of S$56.00 for 1 computer, and S$94.00 for three computers. 

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