Identity dilemma: When to back-up data and when not to | #malware | #ransomware

Iraqis tap away at computers and mobile devices at co-working space The Station in Baghdad – Copyright AFP/File Ludovic MARIN

Backing-up data is an important business activity. But how does a firm know whether things are working?

Testing the viability of backups is important and businesses should test backup procedures to ensure that critical data can be rapidly restored if the organization is impacted by ransomware or a destructive cyberattack. This includes ensuring that backups are performed frequently and stored in a secure location, which can help speed up the recovery time.

Furthermore, organizations should store  backups offsite or at a secure network location. This is important in the event of data loss spurred by ransomware or another malicious attack, which may also target a backup system or prevent the recovery of a system.

Another element for being prepared is that organizations should create and implement a robust data loss prevention strategy.

According to David Friend, co-founder and CEO of Wasabi Technologies, as he tells Digital Journal: “One underutilized way to protect and backup your data against cyber threats and ransomware is through object-level immutability in your cloud storage, which means certain files and stored objects cannot be modified or deleted by anyone, even a systems administrator.”

Explaining this more fully, Friend  goes on: “If you store your backups in immutable buckets, ransomware hackers can’t delete or encrypt your backups. Ransomware hackers know that if you can restore your systems from backups, they are unlikely to be able to extort ransom from you.”

As to the benefits, Friend says: “So they try to destroy backups at the same time they are encrypting your primary data. But if you have done your backups properly, when you get attacked by ransomware, you should be able to start fresh and restore your entire system from backups.”

Another reason for the importance of backing up data, Friend states is because: “No amount of high-tech prevention will stop ransomware attacks because most of the time the vulnerability is with the humans, not the machines. So my advice is to do the best you can on the prevention side, but more importantly do complete backups, store them in immutable object stores, and test that you can successfully do a full restore before you get hit.”

There are some forms of data where care should be taken with their back-up, such as identification documents. Some analysts argue that identity should be validated without the need to store it on a server or database.

There are two foundational requirements for personal data:

  • The data or identity information must be secured so that even in the event of a breach, the underlying data is not revealed.
  • A strong authentication mechanism like biometric security is in place to control who has access to underlying data. These controls make it possible to reduce fraud and limit the exposure of sensitive data.

These various examples demonstrate the importance of a holistic approach to cybersecurity matters.

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