Thursday, July 28, 2016

Backups 101

Backups 101


We have all heard cautionary tales about data loss and failure to safely back up our data. Computers fail and 1000s of photos, music, and important files are lost. You may have an external hard drive and back up occasionally, but you may not know that external hard drives are not the most secure or reliable option.

One of the quickest ways to ensure your personal or business backups are done on time, and at the right frequency, is to automate them. Backing up manually places the onus on the user or employee to complete the backups themselves. Busy schedules often put doing our backup at the bottom of the to-do list. By automating this process, you ensure that your data is safe and secure.

While automating backups to a physical hard drive in your home or office is a good start, external hard drives themselves are not necessarily the most reliable choice. External hard drives have a life expectancy and can fail at any time. Relying solely on an external hard drive for your data storage could leave you vulnerable to mass data loss. In addition, ransomware attacks are now targeting local backups and are specifically looking for those to encrypt. By backing up to the cloud, rather than locally, your data is not accessible to ransomware attacks.

While you should maintain a local, hard drive backup, you should also have a cloud based backup of your data. In the event you need to restore your data, it is much quicker to do so from a hard drive, as opposed to the cloud. Cloud based backups and storage are the most secure, reliable, and effortless way to backup our data. Cloud based storage means you do not have to worry about hard drive failure, damage, or computer loss or theft, you can rest easy knowing your files are secure in the cloud.

Max Sadlowski of Sadlowski Consulting knows the importance of cloud backups from personal experience, “A client of mine once left their work laptop on an airplane in the seat pocket, upon realizing that the laptop was gone about 3 hours later, the laptop was nowhere to be found. The next steps for the client were to buy a new computer, download a single application, and within 2 hours, had her complete computer restored as if it had never been lost. If she had not had an up to date, cloud backup, the client would have been severely impacted”. Let me know if you like this anecdotal bit here from Max. We were chatting and he reminded me of this incident with a former client.

Frequent, automated, and monitored backups is your best defence. If you are backing up regularly, even if your computer is lost or stolen, you can get up and running again on new hardware with little stress or interruption to your business.

Monday, June 13, 2016

2016: The Year of Ransomware


2016 The Year of Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that is installed on a computer, restricting and infecting the device, demanding that the user pay a ransom to the malware operators to remove the restriction. Ransomware is hostile and can spread to your server and all the computers on your network, quickly and without your knowledge. Even if you have antivirus protection on your machine this may not be enough to keep your devices and data safe from ransomware. Antivirus software is always one step behind in terms of your protection. They can only protect you from known malware and predictable variants. While they do try and predict and protect you from viruses yet to be released, they are not perfect and should not be your only line of defense against malware.

If you run a small to medium sized business, you may be thinking that you are not a target for ransomware, that these malware operators won’t bother going after such small organizations. In reality, small businesses make perfect targets for these kinds of attacks as they often have little in the way of protection and backups. “Small business is classically unprepared to deal with ransomware”, says Bill Hughes, Managing Director of Weehooey. Small businesses do not have the resources to withstand their business being halted, and so they often settle and pay the ransom so they can keep their lights on and doors open.

Finding and prosecuting those operating these malware attacks is virtually impossible. Anyone can purchase this malware. It is monetized, building momentum, easily accessible, and can quickly be used to encrypt network drives. It is hard to remove and untraceable.

According to Hughes, “2016 will be the year of ransomware”. Make sure you business is prepared and protected for a potential ransomware attack. Your best defense is thorough, secure, and frequent backups of all of your company’s data. If you have a complete backup, pre-ransomware install, you can restore your data easily, and the malware operators no longer have leverage. Backups need to be cloud based, as traditional external hard drives can fail, deteriorate, or be compromised.

Protecting your small to medium sized business through knowledge and more frequent and thorough backups can help immunize you from ransomware attacks and keep your business running.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How Secure Is Your Most Important Password?



This struggle to memorize and maintain passwords is not only stressful, but can lead to the adoption of bad habits, like creating weak passwords, or setting identical passwords for multiple accounts. You may be surprised to learn that your email password is your most valuable. Here is why this password should be the most guarded.
Picture your inbox and the vast amount of personal data it contains. Imagine all of the accounts you have created over the years using your email address and all of the websites you have given your email address too. You should think of your email as the gateway to a multitude of other accounts, all holding personal information and data about yourself. Your email password is the lock on that gateway.

Security Questions/Password Resets:

Your inbox contains enough personal details about your life, your family, your job, and your interests for people to gain the information they need to answer your security questions. Think of the security questions you may have answered in the past in order to reset a password. The answers to those questions are likely somewhere in your message history, whether you are aware of it or not. Even if people are not able to easily guess your passwords based on the contents of your inbox, they can always reset them.

Rethink Your Email Provider:

You may have, or know someone who has, an email address from their internet service provider (ISP), for example johnsmith@cogeco.com. While these email addresses may seem harmless and convenient, they can leave you open to vulnerabilities.
If you have an email account with your ISP and relocate, losing this email address, this means that address can now be assigned to a new Cogeco client and used to reset passwords. Using a universal email provider like Google or Hotmail means you can take you email address with you wherever you go and do not have to worry about antiquated email accounts from years gone by.

Your Own Domain Name:

If you are a business owner it is vital to have email accounts from your domain name and not generic addresses from a universal email providers. Not only do universal email addresses look less professional, but you have little control over the address. If, for example, an employee leaves they would have the ability to access and reset passwords for this account and could do your business serious damage.
For help securing your business’ email accounts contact Weehooey today. We can register and establish domain names and assist with all of your email security needs.