How To Survive A Hard Disk Crash

How To Survive A Hard Disk CrashThere’s been a massive digitization within businesses but with that comes one gaping flaw – a hard drive crash could wipe out all your data in an instant. Nobody and no data is immune – accounts, quotes, documents, email etc. are ALL at risk.

If you’ve ever lost your data or had your computer stolen, you know the panic and rage that follows…turning your business upside down, hoping desperately to find that USB drive that might contain a backup of data…before collapsing onto the floor as it sinks in: it is all gone.

Currently your hard drive is probably still in a good shape but surprise failures do happen. The mechanics don’t last forever, and even brand-new drives can be blitzed by a power surge. Theft is always a risk, as is user error like deleting files accidentally, or even getting hit by a nasty virus that destroys or holds your files for ransom. Some businesses are using apps like Dropbox, iCloud or OneDrive as their backup, thinking if their hard drive crashes or gets stolen, they’ll just download the files from there. Unfortunately, those very handy apps are no help if you’ve been hit with ransomware. Almost instantly as the malware encrypts your local files, those sync apps upload the infected versions. Older, safe versions of the files no longer exist, as these apps are designed to give a constant mirror of your drive, not a proper backup.

Stop for a moment and think about what you’d lose right now if your hard drive failed. What’s on there? Accounts, orders, client details, financial records, tax info, photos, videos – your entire business. It’s not a feeling we would wish on anyone!

What You Can Do

Backing up at data used to be something only tech geeks did, but like everything cool, it has gone mainstream. We recommend at least a 3-2-1 approach: 3 copies of your data, with 2 local at your office and 1 offsite.

Typically, this means keeping your regular hard drive where your data is now, one copy of precious files on at least one (preferably 5 – one for each workday) backup USB drives, and one that automatically uploads to the secure cloud as you add new files. That way, the USB drives protects your data if your computer dies, and the cloud copy protects you if something happens to the computer and your USB drive, like fire, flood or theft. It’s a good idea to make sure you unplug that backup USB drive afterwards and lock it away in a fireproof safe or even better, taken offsite – as connected devices can easily become infected during an attack or stolen during a break-in.

Two of these methods require you to actually pay attention, which is where many businesses struggle. Not that it’s tricky, but unless you’re one of those cool geeks it’s pretty boring and not a high priority after a long day! That is why we recommend a cloud backup solution and also an automated local backup.

You’ll be able to retrieve files at will, without having to roll back your entire drive, and know your solution has caught even the smallest file change without you needing to flag or mark it in any way. Even better, because there is a copy in the cloud, you can access your secure backup from anywhere. So if the unfortunate happens (ie a fire or flood) and you can’t access your office at least you have your files safe backed up in the cloud.

We are able to get you set up with the perfect backup solution that meets your needs, both now and in case of emergency.

If you’re ready to protect your data before you lose it, give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Are You Backing Up Correctly?

BackupThe 31st of March is World Backup day and it’s a great time to check your backup or put a backup in place. Businesses lose huge amounts of data every day, purely because ‘backing up’ is stuck at the bottom of their to-do list. So this is your reminder, that even if you only do this once a year when the calendar tells you to make it happen now! But how? What is the easiest, most effective way for your business to backup?

You’ve probably heard of file backup by a number of names: Cloud Sync, Cloud Backup or Cloud Storage. They’re all similar enough to be confusing and meaningless enough to be anything. Here’s what they mean and which one you need today.

Cloud Sync

Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc are services that sync up with a single folder on your computer. They mirror it. When a file changes in one, the sync service rushes to change it on your other computers too, so they are always the same. Cloud Sync services are hugely flexible for remote employees or for those squeezing in a few quick tasks while riding the train to work. They are ridiculously easy to use, require no training, and the free tiers are enough for most small businesses and individuals. This all sounds amazing, right? Except…when things go wrong, they go wrong big time! Accidentally deleting a file means it disappears from the Cloud Sync drive and your other computers – almost immediately. Overwriting a file does the same thing, and if an employee edits the wrong file, then those edits are there to stay. If disaster strikes and your local copy becomes corrupted (or ransomed), well you guessed it, the corruption is uploaded too. While some Cloud Sync services now offer a 30 day backup option, you may not notice the file was missing within this time frame.

Cloud Sync services are fantastic for productivity and accessing files on the go, but they simply can’t be relied on as your backup tech.

Cloud Storage

Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, etc are massive buildings full of storage drives that work just like your local hard drive but you access them securely via the internet. In fact, when you use a cloud sync app like Dropbox, they’re actually sending your data to one of these locations. While the sync services have a constant back and forth connection between the storage center and your folder, and as explained above aren’t good for backup, you have another option. You can access cloud storage on a per/GB basis yourself and upload your entire backup as desired. It won’t update with changes on your local network, but it will be safe from disaster. When you need to retrieve a file, you simply login and download it.

Your backed up data is secure, protected against disaster, and always available to you. However, because it relies on you or your employee to handle the backup plan and manually take care of the uploads, this is a high-risk solution. Unless your employee is scouring your network each day/week/month for changes to files and uploading them with fervent dedication, chances are this plan won’t work. We recommend an automated or outsourced solution so you can get on with business AND also be protected.

Cloud Backup

Carbonite, Soonr, Crashplan, etc might not be names you’ve heard before, but they work in the background to monitor changes to files on your computer or network and make sure you’re backed up. You can roll back individual files or whole drives, and even select from earlier backups, not just one. Like sync services, they use cloud storage centers with extra-high security and redundancy so that your data is always there when you need it. Even better, neither you nor your employees need to worry about when it was last done.

The One You Need

Let’s take a moment to talk planning. We recommend starting with the 3-2-1 strategy. This means having 3 copies in total, 2 of them locally such as on your computer and an external drive, and another offsite in the cloud. Using this strategy keeps your business operating when data disasters occur and is an investment in your uptime. We can help get you set up with the 3-2-1 method, including selecting the best cloud service for your needs. If you’re looking for a more scalable, cost-effective solution that gives the utmost peace of mind, ask about our managed backups service.

Need help with your backup then call us at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Could Your Business Survive a Disaster?

Could your business survive a disaster?

With human errors, natural disasters, power problems and cyber terrorism on the rise, it’s not a case of ‘if’ a disaster will strike your business, but ‘when’ will it happen. If it does happen it is usually not the scope and size of the event that influences how your business is impacted but whether a business has a plan to work their way through the issues.

Put simply, this is a business continuity plan – a document that lays out the pre-planned responses to an event, laid out in detail and implemented to keep your business running with little or no downtime. Think about what would happen if your business was hit by a disaster tomorrow. Would it survive and how much downtime would it take to push you into dangerous territory?

According to an IBM study of companies that have had a major loss of data, 43% never reopen, 51% close within two years and just 6% will survive long-term. For some of those survivors their business continued as usual thanks to their business continuity plan. It is more than just disaster recovery, it’s full preparedness that bypasses the need for weeks of downtime, financial ruin, wasted salaries and a loss of reputation – but it does require a level of advanced planning.

Recommendations

Here are some recommendations on how to help your business survive a disaster.

Prioritize: You will need to plan exactly what you’ll recover first and know who is in charge of making that happen. It goes beyond a checklist of things to do, it is taking an analytical, process-based approach to recovery for each unique business perspective. But be realistic and plan to adapt – there is no point using precious time to reviving the email system if your financial data is leaking onto the internet – even if email did rank as your top priority!

Backup: The most critical part of your business continuity is having full backups located in three places. Why three? One copy locally which you rotate offsite each day, a backup offsite and one in the cloud. The local and offsite backups come into play for system crashes, cyber-attacks and the like. While the cloud backup comes into play when your business has taken a major physical hit, perhaps from fire, flood or other natural disaster where your location is not accessible or destroyed. Some businesses can run entirely location-independent when using cloud systems like Office365, which can be enough to help them survive.

Test: Make sure all employees know what the plan is, where it is located and their role in the plan. It is also recommended to test, prepare and rehearse your continuity plan under simulated disaster conditions. This will uncover new obstacles, priorities, additional threats and other potential problems before it is too late.

As businesses IT environments becomes more and more complex the importance of a robust business continuity plan increases. The best plans look beyond disaster recovery, taking into account scalability of your system and scope of your individual business, to help create strong battle lines that will keep your business operational, both now and in the long term.

Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 to discuss your requirements and assist you in creating a custom business continuity plan for your business.

How To Stay Cyber Safe When Travelling

Mobile Cyber SecurityWith cloud computing people are embracing the flexibility of working away from the office (whether at home or travelling) and working by simply accessing the relevant data or applications via the internet..

When in the office, you are protected by professionally designed firewalls, security infrastructure, and robust software. As soon as you step away from that network those protections disappear and leave your device and the data inside at greater risk.

Cyber attackers love to collect any data they can obtain – business or personal doesn’t matter to them as it can all be sold. These days the information stored on your device can be worth much more than the actual device.

Here are 3 ways a hacker may attack:

Random Opportunity: If you have left your laptop at a café or a thief has stolen the phone from your pocket, the outcome is the same – that device is gone. Hackers take any opportunity they can to gain access to a device: including taking them from hotel rooms and even asking to ‘borrow’ them for a few minutes – if they don’t steal it the device is handed back laden with spyware.

Creating a fake Wi-Fi Hotspot: We’ve all come to expect free Wi-Fi networks wherever we go. Hackers though will take advantage of this to create their own free, unsecure network just waiting for someone to connect. Once a user is connected a hacker can  grab any unsecured passwords sent across the network.

Intercepting an Unsecure Network: Hackers don’t even need to own the Wi-Fi network to steal content from it. Data traveling across an unsecure network is visible and available to anyone with the right software.

Don’t let these issues stop you using the Internet when out side the office. Just take the following precautions to increase your cyber safety and help protect your valuable data:

  1. Regularly make backups: In the event your device is lost or damaged, you’ll be able to replace the device with a new one and quickly restore all the data from a backup, all with minimal downtime.
  2. Be careful when using public Wi-Fi: Don’t use passwords or email when on a public network. Use a VPN or a 4G connection (ie tether your computer to your phones data connection) when you are accessing sensitive data or logging in to secure sites.
  3. Use passwords and encryption: At a minimum, make sure your device is password protected and has full drive encryption. With a password and drive encryption even if your storage drive is removed from the device the contents are inaccessible.
  4. Act fast after loss: If your device is lost or stolen, immediately notify the appropriate companies and people. This might include your IT provider so they can change passwords, your bank and any other financial institutions so they can lock down accounts, and any staff who need to be aware of the breach so they aren’t tricked into allowing further breaches.

If you need further help with mobile cyber security contact us on (08) 8326 4364 or on support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Will Clicking That Link Cost You Thousands?

Ransomware has been a huge security threat in 2016. No-one was safe. Hackers targeted everyone and everything – including office networks and home PCs. In fact anything connected to the Internet (including smart TV’s and surveillance cameras) was fair game for them. They were very successful, with reports of upwards of $US846million reported just from incidents in the US. With this sort of monetary gain business is booming for hackers, with thousands of attacks each day bringing in an average of $US640 per target. Even more alarmingly is that the cost to the end user is on the rise with hackers demanding more and more money each time.

Some hackers even offer to help and rescue you from the issue that they caused – for a fee of course! One method is to trick you into thinking you have a virus or malware issue that will spread rapidly if you don’t pay them money to remove it. Another scarier method is that they pretend to be from a law enforcement agency (ie the Federal Police, FBI or a similar type of organisation) and say your computer was involved in a crime (anything from money laundering to child pornography). If you pay them a certain amount of money quickly you can avoid going to prison.

The real bad malware that is spreading rapidly at the moment are the crypto range of viruses. These viruses cause users to be locked out of their own data by encrypting files on users computers and servers. Folders of business documents, pictures, photos, music and even financial records are all held hostage until a ransom is paid. The encryption is such that it is unbreakable and unless you have a good backup paying the ransom is often seen to be the only solution.

The way these evil hackers get into your computer is deviously simple. They convince users to click on an email attachment/link or pop-up. For example you receive an email or pop up that:

  • supposedly tracks an undeliverable package.
  • is a bill or credit from a utility company.
  • alerts you to a virus that was found and needs to be removed.
  • an invoice from a company you have never heard of and / or for goods you never ordered.
  • advises you of a recent traffic or some other type of fine.

They make the message so tempting to click through for more details (this is what the hackers count on). Their messages and pop-ups aren’t obvious threats and so can easily slip under our radar and through various spam and virus filters.

Paying the hackers to solve or unencrypt your files is not recommended as they are not the most trustworthy bunch. That one payment may lead to demands of more and more money with no solution in sight.

To make things worse, the malware can encrypt your backups too. Having a backup is very important in any situation, but in cases like this, the right backup is needed – with several other backup copies not connected to your network and stored safely offsite. An online backup is also recommended. Before restoring your backup remember to check that the malware isn’t lurking in the background, ready to not just re-infect your restored files but also the backup drive itself.

To avoid finding yourself dealing with ransom demands we recommend being wary of all email attachments. Even if they are from business associates, friends and family – if you are not sure what the file is don’t click it. The sender may not have sent that email intentionally and their compromised system may be automatically emailing everyone in their address book.

You should also be wary with any popups that appear out of place, especially ones that try to make you panic or do something you are wary of doing. If the message doesn’t sound or look right then don’t click it. Ransomware is just too dangerous to risk.

Also make sure your backups are working correctly and regularly test your backups.

Call us on 08 8326 4364 to set your computer up with protections against ransomware / malware / viruses, and put backups in place that will keep your important files safe.