Ransomware and Backups: An Overview

Ransomware and Backups: An Overview

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Lukas Vileikis
05 August 2021

Ransomware is a prevalent problem, especially nowadays, when data is being stolen and leaked left and right. Ransomware can usually be tackled by backing up data - in this blog post we are going to figure out how you should go about backing up your data to prevent the dangers posed by ransomware.

Why Backup?

Before actually talking about how backups can help overcome problems related to ransomware, we should probably tell you why should you back up your data in the first place. You see, backing up your data is very important, because it helps you overcome all sorts of different problems. For example:

  • What do you do when your web or database servers have some issues and go down?
  • What do you do when some of your colleagues run some untested code that makes your database go down?
  • What do you do when you need to restore older data to attain certain business goals?

The answers to these questions are generally plain and simple - you need to back up your data. Not only back up, but you also need to ensure that your data is always able to be restored as-needed and that process should take as little of your time as possible.

How is Ransomware Related to Backups?

Ransomware is related to backing up your data from the security perspective. Consider the following scenario: your web server gets infected by ransomware and you don’t have backups. What do you do then?

Once your data gets “ransomwared”, there’s no good news for anybody involved. Once your servers are infected, usually your data gets locked, then ransomware asks for some sort of a ransom - that’s precisely the reason why it’s called “ransomware”.

By saying “your data gets locked”, we mean that you can’t access any files or folders without “unlocking” them by paying a ransom first. Here’s where backups come in: if you have backups of your data, even if your data gets locked, you will be able to simply back up your infrastructure first.

Protecting Your Data without Backups

That’s not to say that if you have backups you shouldn’t be afraid of ransomware - quite the opposite. Backups will save you in corner-case scenarios, but the best protection from ransomware is simply not being infected in the first place. In order to avoid ransomware from impacting your data, you need to:

  • Be careful about what kind of files you download - avoid downloading files with suspicious extensions (.exe, .bat, etc.)
  • Research the source you are downloading data or related files from: if you come across some information that says that the source of your files might be unsafe, infected, etc., avoid downloading anything from that source.
  • Be careful about what kinds of files you execute on your server.

Follow the steps above and you should be well on your way to protect your backups without any third-party software or similar things. However, if you want to take your backups one step further to protect your files and databases from ransomware, it might be time to look into software as a service backup solutions.

Backing Up Data with SaaS Backup Solutions

There are numerous software-as-a-service backup solutions that might help you achieve your backup goals. One of them is Backup Ninja - a software-as-a-service backup solution that will help you ensure that your databases are performing at the best of their ability backup-wise. For example, here’s how the UI of Backup Ninja looks like when you first log in to the service:

Overview

As you can see, Backup Ninja provides you with a lot of valuable information. This page in particular provides us with information relevant to our backup stats, to our servers, and to our upcoming backups too.

The green part of the circle represents running backups, the orange part represents backups that are inactive, and the red part (if one exists) represents backups that have completed with errors.

The dashboard is not it though: Backup Ninja also offers a bunch of other things including, but not limited to, for example, backup schedules:

Backup Schedules

The Backup Schedule page will display all backups that you have scheduled including their name, their method, their last execution date and schedule, also what server and storage device they are stored on.

Backups can be either shown, you can back up data now, duplicate a schedule (say, if you want the same backup to run more than once) or edit the schedule:

Editing a Schedule

By editing the schedule you will be able to adjust its name, select a server to perform the backup on, select the backup method (in this case the available backup methods include mongodump, and, if you want to backup files, a file backup method) and select the backup type from full or partial.

Backing up your data in this way can be a very good way to prevent ransomware outbreaks now or in the future because should ransomware harm you that way, you will know that all of your backups are scheduled and that all of the scheduled backups are able to be restored.

Your backup schedules can also have their settings modified, should you so desire:

Modifying Settings

By modifying the settings above you will be able to check whether you want your backups to use compression or encryption (compression will make your backups use less space on the disk while encryption will encrypt them) - that might be a significant factor when tackling ransomware attacks because if ransomware is targeting the servers of your business, having backups that you can count on is crucial.

Summary

Ransomware these days is targeting all kinds of businesses - attackers launching ransomware attacks don’t care about the fact that your business might not be in the software industry, that your business is feeding people, that your business might just make toys for kids, that your business doesn’t make much money…: they care about the fact that ransomware attacks can make them money because by locking your data down they ask for a ransom in return. If that ransom is paid, there’s no guarantee your data will be unlocked, so it’s advisable to not pay attackers, but use the power provided by backups in return. Using the power provided by services like Backup Ninja will put your business in a far better position than it was in previously because Backup Ninja can schedule your backups, take them for you, even notify you if something goes wrong in the backup space! Make sure to try Backup Ninja today and tell us what you think.