In part 1, I wrote of endpoint protection and updates, two of the biggest parts of security you need. In part 2 of our series, we will discuss backups as a computer network security method. Let’s start with defining backup in easy terms.
A file that is backed up means you can access the file from more than one location. For example, if it exists on your computer and also on a removable hard drive, that’s a backup. If you have simply moved a file from your computer to a removable hard drive, that is technically an archive and not a backup.
Having it in more than 1 physical location allows you to get a copy after unauthorized access occurs. If it’s just an archive, you’re lost if that archive is lost.
Why are Backups a Network Security Method?
Some methods to hack into your system involve encrypting your sensitive information and holding it hostage. If a hacker has access to the network, it may even infect a connected backup system. For example, a removable hard drive that you leave plugged in. A good backup process can assist in preventing you from having to pay the hostage fees if you get hacked.
Right before someone was a new client of ours, they were hit by a software like this (which was their catalyst for a support company change). They rarely swapped the USB hard drive they were backing the server up to, so the best backup they had available was from 4 months ago. They didn’t have a valid online backup.
Think about that, 4 months of data gone because of malicious activity. The ransom at the time was $1,000, so they opted to increase security and backups, take the data loss, and invested the money into a more secure operation.
Two vs Three Backups for Computer Security
So we’ve established that a minimum acceptable backup is to have your important files in two locations. At Nutmeg, we prefer three backup locations. At our office, we implement the first copy on the computer or server where the file is generally accessed from.
We create the second on some alternate or removable storage. This could be a separate network drive or a removable hard drive, the copies are managed by Windows Backup.
The third copy of a file is online. In this instance, we use online as a way to describe the transport of the file, like using the internet to get it there. Nutmeg uses and resells Mozy Pro for that purpose, though you can also use family members if you trust them with your personal files and find a decent software to help facilitate the backup.
Ideas to Use for Backups
We believe three locations is the best option to use backups for computer network security. One reason is that sometimes retrieval of data can be terrible. Sometimes the data you expect to be there is broken or lost.
You should definitely test your backups, but having more than one method or location will also help. Here are some ideas you can use for backup:
- Mozy – they offer some free space for home users, we resell Mozy Pro for more space and features and a 90-day file history guarantee on deleted/changed files. Plus, we monitor the reports to keep you informed if something goes awry with your backup.
- Time machine – okay, but is vulnerable to attack when still connected to the Mac.
- Windows backup – okay, but is also vulnerable to attack when connected to the Windows PC. You should also lookup “Previous Versions”, it has to be configured for Windows 7, but is already on for Windows 8 and 10.
- Dropbox – give it a try, potentially vulnerable on free accounts as they don’t guarantee a 90 day storage policy for changed/deleted files.
- Crash plan – They sell online storage space. You can also team up with people you trust to offer storage space to each other for encrypted backups. You save $$ by just using some of that 800GB free on your sister’s hard drive.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to read the article that kicked things off, Everyday Computer Security for Everyday Computer People – Part 1.