It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month: What’s Your Backup Plan?

By: Yasmin Ranade

October 27, 2021

It is the final week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. More than ever, it is important to ensure your data and devices are secure and backed up! And, as the lines have blurred between personal and business lives – and the technologies we use for both, we should keep vigilant and proactive for ourselves as well as for our employers and work partners.

The National Cyber Security Alliance and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has designated “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart” as the theme for Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued this press release, which offers direct links to its Cyber Safety pages, Get Cyber Safe‘s website, as well as explains the law enforcement branches that are actively working on cybercrime in Canada.

“The complex nature of cybercrime means there is no simple solution to stopping it,” states Acting Director General Kelly Bradshaw, of the Federal Policing Cybercrime and Financial Crime Units, at the RCMP. “The best way to tackle this borderless problem is with a team approach. The RCMP is committed to working with victims of cybercrime, our public and private sector partners, academia, and our international law enforcement partners to address the threats to Canadians, find meaningful solutions to reduce the rate of victimization and hold criminals to account for their actions.”

Surya Varanasi, CTO, StorCentric

I asked Surya Varanasi, CTO, StorCentric, and JG Heithcock, General Manager, Retrospect, to highlight the challenges we face in terms of cybersecurity.

“Home environments are a particular concern for cybersecurity because, unlike most businesses, they do not have an IT department,” began Heithcock. “Data loss can still happen from accidents, hardware failure, malware and ransomware, and even natural disasters. Families need to protect their computers with a simple backup solution that provides 3-2-1 backup protection, with a fast on-site backup on a shared device like a NAS as well as a cloud backup on a cloud storage provider like Dropbox, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Storage.”

“Some backup solutions let you transfer backups from on-site storage to cloud storage, making it easier to back up everything in a home quickly and then transfer it during off-peak hours,” added Heithcock. “Services like Dropbox offer a version history, but even there, subtle issues come up. For instance, Dropbox does not provide more than 30 days of file history for Family Plans. It’s important for homes to try to protect themselves with both on-site backups and cloud backups, in case the worst happens.

“Personal computers are not the only device that can suffer data loss,” shared Heithcock.

JG Heithcock, General Manager, Retrospect

“Phones and tablets are with us everywhere and contain some of our most important data. You should always enable a full backup option whenever it’s available, like iCloud Backup for iPhone. In addition, photos can be protected for a low cost with options like Google Photo, which syncs photos to its cloud. If you have the option, be sure to enable it.”


Varanasi also weighed in about the devastating increase of ransomware.

“Ransomware and other types of malicious software programs (also known as malware) can disrupt any environment. These programs infiltrate a network, propagate through connected devices and systems, and encrypt data, which disables user access, software, and IT assets,” explained Varanasi.

“There are many types of ransomware that have infected organizations throughout the world, wreaking havoc and costing businesses their reputation by exposing sensitive data,” said Varanasi. “Although there’s a high financial cost for the actual ransom payment, the biggest consequences of ransomware are data loss and downtime

The RCMP continues to see an increase in ransomware in Canada, too. Since June 2020, the National Cybercrime Coordination Unit (NC3) has received over 2,200 requests for assistance from domestic and international law enforcement partners. Of these requests, over 30% related to ransomware.

An Unbreakable Backup Solution

“As malware is now also targeting backups, what’s needed is an Unbreakable Backup solution that ensures at least one copy of your backed up data is immutable – meaning it cannot be deleted or changed in any way,” said Varanasi. Varanasi then shared, “key features of an ideal Unbreakable Backup solution,” which included:

  • File Fingerprinting – Secure Digital Fingerprints utilizes a combination of two cryptographic hashes for a unique file identifier.
  • File Redundancy – Makes two copies of the file and its fingerprint are stored in a separate RAID disk set either in the same system or a remote one.
  • File Serialization – Serial numbers are assigned to each individual file to ensure no files are changed, missing, or inappropriately added.
  • Secure Timestamp – Use of a global, redundant, secure time source using Stratum Level 1 hardware time sources to ensure accurate time stamp.
  • Auto File Repair – Continually verifies against fingerprints and repairs using copies and safeguarded by RAID disk arrays for days or even decades.
  • Regulatory Compliance – Governmental and Corporate compliance

Cyberattack Is On The Rise

“Driven in large part by the COVID pandemic, massive layoffs, and record numbers of people being sent home virtually overnight to work, learn, shop and live, the number of successful cyberattacks climbed to dizzying heights,” shared Varanasi.

“In fact, recent IDC research indicated that over the past year, more than one third of organizations worldwide experienced a ransomware attack or breach that successfully blocked access to systems or data. And for those that fell victim, many experienced multiple ransomware events. With cybercrime projected to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, it is clear why ensuring your organization is taking the appropriate measures to ensure cyber safety and security must become priority number one.”

“I like to say, ‘backup is one thing, but recovery is everything,” remarked Heithcock. “In other words, choose a backup solution that ensures the recovery piece (which surprisingly, not all of them do). Look for a provider with vast experience, as well as a track record for continuous innovation that ensures its offerings are prepared to meet prevailing conditions.”

Being made aware of ways to protect yourself is a start. The critical step is to act with a solution that you can manage, and that will keep your data and tech safe as well as backed up.

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