Tag Archives: backup

Backup

Don’t Rely on Cheap Online Backups for Your Data!

08 Feb 17
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Last Night I Was Startled Out Of Bed In A Cold Sweat,

Heart Racing, With Fear Racing Through My Mind…And YOU Were The Reason For My Panic!

Was I having a nightmare? Was I just watching too many reruns of The Twilight Zone? Had I eaten a big meal before bed? No – it simply occurred to me that you might be relying on cheap, online backups for your data!

And if that data was erased, corrupted or destroyed, you might not ever get it back! The thought of that happening scared me half to death!

You see, your business network creates a lot of important data every day, which means you need regular backups to ensure that you always have access to this information. Many cloud storage services offer remote backup for low prices, but the promise of cheap backups is often too good to be true. Instead of getting the reliable storage you need to protect your business data, you may run into frustrating pitfalls. And THAT is what had me up in the middle of the night.

Here are a few nightmares you might run into in real life, if you’re using one of those cheap cloud backups:

Data Restrictions

Some cloud services claim to have unlimited storage. However, there’s always a limit to what a server can hold. Most cheap backup services don’t have the space that businesses need. This makes it impossible to secure all of your data. Getting more space incurs extra fees, and this could be a problem for small businesses with tight budgets.

Limited Devices

Business networks can be extensive. Many cloud backup services only cover the data stored on one machine. This might work for companies that store all necessary data on a central server, but others may require a more extensive backup solution that covers multiple machines and handles larger amounts of information.

Slower Speeds

Running a backup can take a long time when you have a lot of files to copy. A cheap cloud service can’t offer the resources necessary to speed up this process. Many of them put a cap on the amount of bandwidth you get. This could lead to incomplete backups, especially for businesses that need to copy several dozen gigabytes of data every day.

Lack of Syncing and Versioning

One benefit of cloud storage and backup is the ability to sync the latest versions of files across all of your company’s devices. This service can be a lifesaver for businesses whose employees do a lot of remote work using smartphones or tablets. However, cheaper backup options don’t usually include syncing. They also don’t back up multiple versions of files. Versioning is necessary in the event that a current file becomes corrupted and an earlier version needs to be recovered.

Uncertainty

Although data stored in the cloud can be accessed from anywhere, it’s written to physical servers that belong to the company that handles the backups. All hardware is subject to failure at some point. If this happens, you could lose all the data that you thought was safe. That’s why every backup plan needs to have a fail-safe. You should plan to have at least one storage option in addition to the cloud.

Shaky Security

Business data includes sensitive information that requires encryption before being transmitted. This is true no matter what type of backup you use. Not every cheap cloud solution provides this level of security. Anyone can access information sent without initial encryption. This means that customer data and business transactions could be hacked during a routine backup. Data also needs to be encrypted once it’s on the server to prevent intrusion by hackers. Even then, there’s a chance that employees of the cloud service have access to the key that’s meant to provide this protection on the server end.

Cloud Alternatives

With all of these potential drawbacks to consider, cheap cloud service isn’t likely to be the best choice for your business backup needs. Fortunately, there are many other options that can be set up onsite to give you control over what happens to your data.

Is your data being backed up correctly? Contact us for a free analysis.

Your #1 MUST-DO Resolution For 2017

28 Dec 16
lverbik
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With every New Year comes the chance to reset priorities. Unfortunately, when the topic of implementing a data recovery plan comes up, the comment we most often hear is “I know I should, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet…”

So…what if the pilot on the next flight you’re on announces right after takeoff, “I know we should have run through our preflight checklist, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet…???”

Without a solid backup and recovery plan in place, just one mission-critical file that gets lost or stolen could put your company in a world of serious hurt. When you compare the high cost of replacement, repair and recovery to the relatively trivial price of keeping good backups, the choice is an absolute no-brainer.

Why disaster recovery planning matters more than you think

Let’s face it, data is the nucleus of your business. That means that a single ransomware attack could wipe you out in a matter of minutes. Today’s cybercriminals are raking in literally billions of dollars (yes, billions) preying on the unwary, the poorly protected and those who “haven’t gotten around to it yet.” Let’s consider the facts…

Ninety-seven percent of IT services providers surveyed by Datto, a data protection company, report that ransomware attacks on small businesses are becoming more frequent, and they expect that trend to continue. These attacks are taking place despite anti-virus and anti-malware measures in effect at the time of the attack.

Windows operating systems are most often infected, followed by OS X. Cloud-based applications, particularly Dropbox, Office 365 and Google Apps, are also being targeted.

Ransom demands typically run between $500 and $2,000. About 10%, however, exceed $5,000. And even at that, paying a ransom demand is no guarantee that encrypted files will be released.

For a typical SMB, downtime from ransomware can cost around $8,500 per hour, and will take an average of 18.5 hours of the company’s time. That’s a hit to your bottom line somewhere in the neighborhood of $157,250. Yet in many cases the ultimate cost has reached into multiple hundreds of thousands.

In a recent survey of 6,000 IT professionals by the Ponemon Institute, 86% of companies had one or more incidents causing downtime in the past 12 months. Typical downtime was 2.2 days, with an average cost of $366,363. And that’s just the average. Could your company survive that kind of hit? It’s no wonder that 81% of smaller businesses suffering such an attack close their doors within three years.

It’s tragic. And yet the solution is so simple…

The #1 antidote for a data disaster

What’s behind these costly incidents? Here’s the breakdown of contributing factors:

  • Human error: 60%
  • Unexpected updates and patches: 56%
  • Server room environment issues: 44%
  • Power outages: 29%
  • Fire or explosion: 26%
  • Natural disasters: 10%

Note that human error accounts for 60% of the breaches. It’s no wonder then that ransomware attacks are on the rise, since they can be triggered by just one employee inadvertently clicking a bad link in an e-mail or social media site. Human behavior is hard to control. However, the #1 antidote for a ransomware attack is having a secure backup ready and waiting to replace encrypted files.

And when you scan through the rest of the list above, it becomes clear that, while you need to implement a comprehensive set of data security measures, having a solid and reliable data recovery plan in place and ready to go the moment disaster strikes is still your best defense.

 

Backup

Will Your Backups Be There When You Need Them?

06 Jul 16
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When the livelihood of your business depends on data stored in your computer network, you simply cannot afford to leave anything to chance. Data preservation and the ability to retrieve it at any point in time is the foundation of business continuity.

Yet the facts about backup failures are shocking:

  • According to the Boston Computing Network, 31% of PC users have lost data due to events “beyond their control.”
  • Analysts at the Hughes Marketing Group found that 40% of businesses that experience a critical IT failure go out of business within one year.
  • In a recent Gartner study, only 35% of backup tests were successful.

Some of the more common reasons for backup failures include unintentional formatting of a hard drive, accidental data deletion, malware or virus attack, firmware corruption, natural disasters, logical errors and continued computer operation when the hard drive is starting to fail.

So how certain are you that your backup system is 100% reliable? Could a false sense of security be preventing you from taking actions that will insure your backups will really be there when you need them?

7 Ways to Avoid Data Disaster Due To Backup Failure

Without proactive measures in place – and Murphy’s Law being what it is – the odds of a successful restoration when you need it most may not be as great as you’d like to think… So what can you do? Here are seven ways to avoid a damaging loss of data due to backup failure.

  1. Insist on regular, remote and redundant processes. A good rule of thumb is 3-2-1. That means three copies of your data stored in two off-site locations, backed up a minimum of one time per day.
  1. Don’t go too cheap on disk drives. Less expensive arrays that save money by doing without features like redundant power supply and hot spare disks may leave your data at risk.
  1. Guard against human error. Make sure people performing backups and restores know exactly what to do – and what not to do. Take people out of the loop and automate wherever possible. And be especially cautious in situations where backups aren’t a part of someone’s regular duties.
  1. Are your backup software settings being checked routinely? When new software or updates are put into service, a change in the way the settings are configured can cause incomplete backups, or backups that fail completely. Do the people who maintain your backups include this on their regular to-do list?
  1. Could some files be getting left out? As resources are added and priorities shift, files and folders can get misplaced or accidentally left off the backup list. Insist on a quarterly or annual meeting with your backup management team to make sure all mission-critical files are included in your organization’s data recovery systems.
  1. Address network issues immediately. Any component in your network that isn’t working properly can introduce another point of failure in your backup process. Every juncture in your network, from a misconfigured switch to a flaky host bus adapter, can hurt your backups.
  1. Ask for help with your data backup and recovery system. You cannot be expected to be an expert in all things. Yet data is the backbone of your business – its protection and recovery should not be left to chance. Why not leverage the knowledge, skill and experience of an expert in the field?

Even with all these measures in place, the best way to keep your organization safe from harm due to data loss is to verify your backup system by performing regular test restores. This will help identify any problems in advance so they can be fixed – allowing you to avoid getting hit with an ugly surprise when you least need it.

The Smart Way To Assure Backup Success

Unless your team has all the time and expertise required to consistently close all open loops in your backup system, your organization may be at risk of serious harm due to data loss.

Contact us today at 317-857-0150 – before disaster strikes.

What can hosted workspaces do for your business?

16 Dec 15
lverbik
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As our culture continually evolves more and more toward mobility and flexibility with the use of tablets, smartphones and notebook computers, business is happening all the time, everywhere, in places we never would have dreamed. Companies are implementing BYOD (bring your own device) policies to make it easy for their employees to maintain a productive pace after they leave the office. And there’s a growing trend emerging to make it work to a company’s advantage.

The concept of a hosted workspace involves a desktop environment situated on a remote server that provides a “virtual office” where employees’ own personal devices can be used to do business seamlessly and relatively safely. Users have easy access from their various devices, from virtually anywhere they may be—inside or outside the office.

It provides a nice little setup giving users a way to interact and work with all of a company’s data, applications and programs just as they would a traditional desktop computer environment—but without the stationary, cumbersome, and costlier machines anchoring them to workstations.

The hosted workspace means that, as a business, you are saving on equipment costs and the constant software upgrades that go along with these conventional setups. Hosted workspaces work and grow with you no matter what the size of your company.

If you fear less security with a mobile environment, your fears are unfounded. The opposite is actually true. Hosted workspaces are proven more secure—providing built in security features, including virus protection and secure cloud server storage for your data. And if you think about what you could lose should your security be breached in a traditional office computer environment, you’re looking at what can be a devastating loss.

So for many businesses, hosted workspaces offer the best advantages that mobile technology has to offer, while keeping your employees nimble and efficient—to do business anywhere. We think that’s a pretty cool idea. Contact us here to find out how TechnoAdvantage can help you craft your own hosted workspace.

Is Cryptovirus back as a worm?

03 Sep 15
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19798163_s (2)Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does—it seems likely there is a new variant to the Cryptolocker virus—that insidious virus known to encrypt all your files and hold them ransom for $300. This new strain may or may not be Crypt, but it was reported recently to have been able to replicate to other workstations and begin encrypting user folders, though many IT peers do not believe that capability exists as yet.

Whether it is possible or not, it’s something to watch out for. The affected business not only was infected across multiple workstations, but also its server by way of mapped drives. The victim in this case saw a web page open at the workstation with a threatening hijack message and links to download the solution that unlocks the user’s data.

Its evil authors no doubt immediately began working on this new poison once researchers from FireEye and Fox-IT were able to reverse-engineer the virus and provide a solution to Cryptolocker’s victims in May of this year. Of course, half a million people had already been affected and 1.3 percent had paid cash to free their files from the criminals—to the tune of $3 million.

Following the forum discussion about this new case reveals that the most likely source of this virus may actually be a flash-based ad on a compromised site that many people in the office could have accessed. It is possible that someone shared a link containing the virus, or perhaps everyone had a program installed already that popped up an embedded ad that was clicked on.

No matter whether the new strain is able to actually replicate to other stations or not, this is a good reminder to take every measure available to safeguard your files. Number one, add this virus’s file names to your file screens: *.aaa and restore_. Two, backup always! Three, get legit anti-virus and monitoring software. Four, patch your workstations. Five, contact the team at Techno Advantage for help selecting the right cloud-based or on-premise backup and storage solutions.

Need more help deciding how to protect your business from a malware attack? Contact a Techno Pro today! And watch this blog for updates on any new malware. We want to keep you informed.

DON’T OPEN THAT RÉSUMÉ SO FAST: THE LATEST SCARY TREND IN RANSOMWARE

23 Jun 15
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YOUR COMPUTER HAS BEEN LOCKED. Now you must pay ransom to an unidentified thief in order to unlock your computer system and gain access to your own data or lose it forever. This might be the worst message to ever have come across your computer screen. If you become its victim, the only way around it is either, 1) pay them, or 2) reformat your computer, and restore data from a backup (if you have it). There’s no easy way out—they lock your drive so you won’t be able to “hack” your way back in, and this is not only local drives, but they can affect mapped drives as well, so if you have a data drive on a company server that everyone uses, that one can be hijacked too.

You’ve just experienced CryptoWall, a new and highly destructive variant of ransomware—a malicious software that infects your computer and holds hostage something of value to you in exchange for money. With CryptoWall, thieves use asymmetric encryption, where the decryption key is different from the encryption key and is not stored next to the encrypted data. This forces victims to pay the thief a ransom for the decryption key to unlock the data. It is so insidious as to encrypt your data with RSA-2048 standard, which makes decryption just about impossible within the given timeframe the infection hobbles you with—usually 48 hours.

And now criminals have refined their malware yet again through the use of exploit kits to spread their poison deeper and wider. This time, with seemingly innocent looking résumés.

How it works:

A hacker sends a zipped file or corrupted word document appearing to be a résumé of a potential hire. When opened, it encrypts the entire contents of the computer and possibly network drives. Information on how to pay a “fee” to decrypt your files is then presented on the screen. After some time, the “fee” may double or you cannot retrieve the files at all. Criminals may demand $500 or more to lift the restrictions on your hostage data.

What can you do to prevent an attack?

  • First, be aware and help spread the word. Our best line of defense against this type of crime is to prevent its occurrence in the first place, and help as many people as possible be aware of the threat and how to avoid it. Share this blog post.
  • Second, train your staff not to open any résumés that come as zipped files—delete the emails immediately. Make sure anyone who hires people knows not to open these emails. Continue to make intelligent decisions about which email attachments you open. If you have an email that you question, contact an IT manager.

Prepare for the worst

  • Always back up your files. There are many excellent and reliable backup services out there. There are similarities and differences so it’s important to find the one that best suits your business’s needs. Compare costs, performance and security levels, among other things, and of course, how they do with disaster recovery. 

What can you do if you become a victim?

  • If you ever think you have clicked on one of these emails, shut down your computer immediately (hold the power button for 6 seconds) or unplug from the network immediately and contact your IT manager.

 

Be informed and share!

The team at Techno Advantage will help you select the right cloud-based or on-premise backup and storage solutions.  Give us a call to discuss which option is right for you. We also offer a backup software option for businesses. Need more help deciding how to protect your business from a malware attack? Contact a Techno Pro today!  And watch this blog for updates on any new malware. We want to keep you informed.

Top 4 Data Backup Devices for Small Business

13 Jan 15
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You already know you need good, regular backups of all of your business data, but you may get stuck figuring out the best way to manage them. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a scary amount of money to buy and set up a reliable backup system.  Let’s look at a selection of reliable and affordable backup devices to use in your small business.

We’ll look at both locally-attached and network-attached backup devices. USB sticks and external USB hard drives are wonderful for making backups on a single computer, and network backup servers simplify data protection for your whole business.

USB Sticks

USB sticks are small in size and price, but mighty in capacity; you can get as much as 128 gigabytes storage capacity on a USB stick. You have a choice of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices, so which one should you buy? USB 3.0 is the current standard, and it is backwards-compatible so it works with computers that have only USB 2.0.

It only costs a little bit more, so you might as well go with 3.0 drives. USB 3.0 promises a transfer rate of 5 Gbits per second, compared to 480 Mbits for USB 2.0.  Not all USB sticks are created equal, and you want to stick with the best brands: SanDisk, Verbatim, Kingston, Lexar, and Corsair are all reliable and sturdy.

USB Hard Drives

When a USB stick isn’t big enough, USB hard drives offer the most storage for the buck. You can get a portable drive with a built-in USB port.  This type of drive offers capacity ranges from 500MB-2TB, has USB 3.0, and usually comes with a nice backup and recovery software.  Many models come with encryption, easy automatic backups, and a cloud backup option.  Pricing ranges from $60 to $120.

Solid-state Drives

A solid-state drive (also known as a solid-state disk or electronic disk, though it contains no actual disk, nor a drive motor to spin a disk) is a data storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently.  Solid-state drives (SSDs) are expensive in comparison to hard drives, but they’re durable, small, fast, and have low power requirements. SSDs are wonderful for workloads where it’s worth paying more for a speed boost, like for system files and multimedia production.

Network Storage Servers

A network-attached storage (NAS) server is a type of dedicated file storage device that provides local-area network (LAN) users with centralized, consolidated disk storage through a standard Ethernet connection. Each NAS device is connected to the LAN as an independent network device and assigned an IP address.  NAS allows more hard disk storage space to be added to a network that already utilizes servers without shutting them down for maintenance and upgrades.  You can use it exclusively for backups, or for file-sharing and multimedia streaming.  It will set you back $1,295 for 4TB of storage, and up to $1,895 for 16TB.  These extra-rugged drives run cooler, and they’re optimized for network storage.

Now that we’ve explored the different options, you should know that Techno Advantage offers a backup software option.  We have found that the pre-installed software on these types of devices is usually a watered down or freebie version that will not deliver the results you hope for in the event that a recovery is needed.  Need help deciding which devices and software are right for your business?  Contact a Techno Pro today!

Protecting Against Ransomware Threats

16 Dec 14
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In case you aren’t familiar with that term, ransomware refers to programs that hold your computer or hard drive hostage, demanding that you pay a ransom fee (hence the name) if you want to get your information back.

Once users become infected, they see an error screen that tells them they have a fixed amount of time, usually 100 hours, to send money to the virus developer before all information on the drive will be unavailable, deleted or encrypted.

Obviously, that can put anyone in a tough position. So, let’s look at what we know about one of the best known types of ransomware called a crypto virus, what you can do if it infects your computer, and the steps you can take to avoid it.

Like many other computer viruses, the crypto virus spreads through email attachments, infected programs and compromised websites.  Typically, these are disguised as PDF or Word files, hiding in official-looking emails.

Once you open the message, and the accompanying attachment, the virus hijacks your computer, and only the ransom screen will be shown.

Attackers may use one of several different approaches to extort money from their victims:

  • After a victim discovers he cannot open a file, he receives an email ransom note demanding a relatively small amount of money in exchange for a private key. The attacker warns that if the ransom is not paid by a certain date, the private key will be destroyed and the data will be lost forever.
  • The victim is duped into believing he is the subject of a police inquiry. After being informed that unlicensed software or illegal web content has been found on his computer, the victim is given instructions for how to pay an electronic fine.
  • The malware surreptitiously encrypts the victim’s data but does nothing else. In this approach, the data kidnapper anticipates that the victim will look on the Internet for how to fix the problem and makes money by selling anti-ransomware software on legitimate websites.

To protect against data kidnapping, Techno Advantage urges all users to backup data on a regular basis. If an attack occurs, do not pay a ransom. Instead, wipe the hard drive clean and restore data from the backup.

What To Do If Your Computer Becomes Infected With the Crypto Virus

The first thing to do, if you detect that one of your computers has become infected with the crypto virus, is to disconnect it from the network. Also, avoid connecting the computer to any external drives or storage devices. It is possible for connected computers, or entire networks, to become infected from a single workstation that’s sharing information.

Next, speak with a Techno Advantage IT professional immediately.

If you have a reliable backup and data recovery system in place, your IT professional can probably restore your files and computer back to a previous save point within an hour or two.

Here are 6 additional tips to help keep you, your business and your equipment safe.

  • Keep regular backups of your important files.
  • Use an anti-virus, and keep it up to date.
  • Keep your operating system and software up to date with patches.
  • Review the access control settings on any network drives you have.
  • Don’t give administrative privileges to your user accounts.

Don’t let the crypto virus keep you up at night…just be prepared with a solid backup solution and a trusted Techno Pro to guide you.  Contact us today for a consultation!