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Computer Backups Against Ransomware and Other Cybercrime


Backing up the data on your computer is a best practice for many reasons. One great reason is protection against ransomware.

Simply put, ransomware is malicious software that cybercriminals trick users into installing on their computers. Once installed, criminals lock out the victim from being able to use their files. They offer the promise of restoring file access to extort money from the computer user, but there are no guarantees that once the ransom is paid that, that will happen.

The best defense against ransomware is to not be tricked into installing it. See tips for staying safe online. Plus, you must have good backups for your computer. There are many options available. For Cornell faculty and staff, there's the Certified Desktop program. If you haven’t already, ask your IT service group representative to enroll your Cornell-issued computer in Certified Desktop. It's recommended that students arrange for their own backups, either to an external hard drive, a cloud-based service, or both.

Having good backups foils cybercrime like ransomware by letting you restore your computer to a recent point in time before it was infected. The version of your computer's hard drive that is owned by the criminal can be wiped out and replaced with one where you're in charge again and they're locked out.

Be sure to back up your data.
Data stored on your devices can be lost, accidentally deleted, or maliciously attacked. Protect your important files, data, and research by making electronic copies and storing them safely. Have multiple backup plans in place to fully secure your work as appropriate for the sensitivity of the data (e.g., cloud storage, encrypted flash drive, external hard drive). If you have a copy of your data and your device falls victim to ransomware or other cyber threats, you can restore the data from a backup.

If you suspect that you're a target of cybercrime, or if your Cornell account has been compromised, change your NetID password immediately and contact the IT Security Office.

Learn more about identity theft and fraud response and what to do if cybercrime happens to you.

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Last updated: 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021 - 12:25pm

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