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World Backup Day Returns as Ransomware Epidemic Bites

Industry experts have been urging businesses to use World Backup Day today to rethink how they can better protect their most valuable assets, especially in light of the ransomware epidemic sweeping the globe.

The annual global awareness raising campaign, which describes itself as an “independent initiative,” quotes 2013 figures from backup and storage firm Backblaze on its homepage claiming that 29% of users have never backed up their data, although this is a US-centric study and mainly consumer-focused.

Among organizations too there are still lessons to be learned, according to Rackspace director of technical services, Giri Fox.

“The rapid increase in the amount of data that consumers and organizations store is one of the biggest challenges facing the backup industry. Organizations aren’t always sure what data they should be keeping, so to make sure they don’t discard any important data they sometimes end up keeping everything which adds to this swell of data,” he argued.

“For many companies, a simple backup tool is no longer enough to make sure all these company assets are safe and available, they need support in keeping up with the sheer scale of data and to fix problems when a valuable file or database goes missing.”

For Trend Micro VP of research, Rik Ferguson, any backups need to be stored offline to ensure they aren’t at risk of infection by ransomware or other malware.

“Ransomware is an epidemic that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Attackers are constantly updating their creations, adding functionality and refining their technology, and that’s just one powerful – and potentially costly – reason why backups have taken on a new level of importance,” he told Infosecurity.

“It’s no longer simply about a catastrophic outage or failure. In fact, the new breed of ransomware is capable of spreading throughout a network, searching for valuable data and encrypting it beyond reach until the attackers demands are met.”

The message is getting through to some organizations, according to Rackspace’s Fox, who claimed his firm backs up 120 PB per month globally.

“One of the main challenges for us is that businesses don’t just want to back-up more data than ever before, they want it to be done quicker than ever before. Also, the process of doing so has become more complex than it used to be because companies are more conscious than ever of the compliance regulations they have to adhere to,” he explained.

“Fortunately, with the development of deduplication techniques, we are now able to backup unique sections of data rather than duplicating large pools continuously, which has sped-up the backing-up process.”

However, it’s not all about the technology, argued Bill Walker, technical director at training firm QA.

“The human element is equally – if not more – important. The best technology in the world won’t protect against the actions of an employee who, through an innocent mistake, opens the door to attack,” he added.

“So improve your cyber protection with regular staff training, just like an organization provides physical protection with a high-vis jacket and hard hat.”

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