The positive side-effects of ransomware

Ransomware is all the rage these days. The bad girls/guys live off the profit, AV companies try to prove their worth by blocking the latest variants, and the media reports on its proliferation across the country¹.

There’s a couple positive side-effects of its apparent success.

Corporations getting hit by Cryptolocker, Locky, and Cerberus, to name a few, are likely testing out their data-restoration policies. Lots of companies take backups – only a fraction of those actually restore them. Many are probably revamping their backup policies after A) Backups failed to restore, and B) were left no choice but to pay to get their own data back. Individuals hearing about ransomware on 60 Minutes, Yahoo Finance, or the Wall Street journal, are likely to start thinking about what data they have, and how to best protect it. That’s better than the “won’t happen to me” attitude.

Several companies are probably enjoying Ransomware. As individuals and corporations improve their backup strategies, companies that make storage products like CrashPlan, Carbonite, Backblaze, etc. are poised to pick up quite a few new users. I would be surprised if they didn’t.

Everyone needs a good backup multiple backups.

If you or your company are not reviewing your backup policies, stop reading, and go do that. Back in the day, I learned “the hard way” what it meant to lose data. My prized possession of mp3’s was mostly wiped out when I lost a disk in a 4-drive RAID-0 setup². These days, my digital prized possessions are pictures and videos of my family and friends.

Tools I use to prevent data loss:
  • RAID-1 mirroring. I choose old-school iron for this and run regular hard drives, not SSDs (I’m not sure what the recovery process, if any, for SSDs are, but I know HDD recovery is fairly reliable)
  • OneDrive. As soon as I snap a pic/video on my phone, it’s uploaded to OneDrive. My PC at home downloads/syncs it locally, and then it gets picked up by…
  • Google Photos. This acts as a secondary off-site copy. Also, their mobile app is phenomenal for quickly finding pictures of friends.
  • Commercial backup product #1. Locally encrypted, I send them all my stuff.
  • <tbd>. I’d feel more comfortable with one more layer of redundancy. I don’t know what this is going to be yet, but I’m searching for a good fit.

Think it’s overkill? If you shoot yourself in the foot, you might be an idiot. If you shoot yourself in the foot again, you are an idiot. It’s not overkill.


¹ After Googling for the correct usage, I found various flavors of Antivirus, Anti-Virus, AntiVirus, and no clear winner. AV it is.

² I know this might seem like a trivial loss to most, but those were hard-earned songs…Ripped with a 2x cd-rom, encoded with a lowly Pentium 150. If you’ve never watched a .wav file encode into an .mp3 on a Pentium-class cpu, you have no right to judge 🙂 And, yes, I know, RAID-0. Shut it.

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