Ransomeware and Backing Up Your Data

With the recent ransomware scare, now is a great time to back up your data, if you aren’t already doing so. Ransomware attacks in 2016 appear to have increased at a 400% attack rate over the previous year, according to a CNN report. It often comes in the form of email attachments or downloads from malicious or compromised websites. Once your computer has been attacked you will receive a popup that states you that you are a victim of a ransomware attack and that you have a specific amount of time to pay money or your files will be deleted. At that time, your files are slowly being encrypted and you will no longer be able to access them.

Rather than give in to the attacker’s demands for payment (which is no guarantee you will get your files back!) there is a very simple solution for regaining access to your files. Back up your data regularly and you will be able to restore your files without payment!

You have some good options for doing backups:
  1. T-storage is managed by OIT and is available for anyone on the UTK network. You get 50GB of cloud-based storage for your individual files. Backups are done by OIT hourly, nightly, and weekly, so anything you store here will be backed up automatically. T-Storage backups are retained for up to 90 days. You must be on the UT network or connecting via the VPN to access your home area. T-Storage is not certified for storage of HIPAA or PII, but is acceptable for storage of FERPA data. This is the best option for most people!

  2. OneDrive for Business is hosted by Microsoft, offers 1TB of Microsoft cloud storage, and is automatically available as part of your Office 365 account. You may access OneDrive for Business anywhere you have an Internet connection. If you accidentally delete a file within OneDrive, it will remain in your OneDrive recycle bin for 90 days, then it can no longer be recovered. OneDrive is certified for storage of  HIPAA, FERPA, and PII.

  3. Google Drive (through UT’s Google Apps for Education) is very similar to OneDrive for Business. The biggest differences are that your storage is unlimited, you work from the cloud, and deleted files stay in the Trash until you permanently delete them. Google Drive is not certified for HIPAA data storage.

  4. External storage is another option for backing up your data. You can set up automatic backups of your computer’s hard drive that will be saved to an external drive. The biggest problem here is that if you don’t remove the external drive when the backup is complete, it is susceptible to ransomware and malware attacks, as well.

Cloud storage is not impervious to ransomware attacks, so it is highly recommended that you do not constantly stay logged into the backup method you are using. And, again, if you are using external storage, only connect to that external drive when your backups are scheduled to run.

If you do regular backups, keep your OS updated, and never click on links within questionable websites or emails, nor open questionable email attachments, you have less worry about ransomware destroying your work or your life. If you have questions about which backup option may be best for your situation, please do not hesitate to give me a call. If you need assistance setting up any of the above options, please call the OIT HelpDesk at (865) 974-9900.