Computer Backups Against Ransomware and Other Cybercrime
Backing up the data on your computer is good practice for a lot of reasons. In the spirit of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, one great reason is protection against ransomware.
Simply put, ransomware is malicious software that criminals trick people into installing on their computers. Once installed, the criminals lock out the victim from being able to use their files. They use the promise of restoring access to extort money from the computer owner, but there are no guarantees that once the money's paid that that will happen.
The best weapon against ransomware is to not be tricked into installing it (see tips for staying safe online). The second best weapon is to have good backups for your computer. There are many options available. For Cornell faculty and staff, a really good one is the university's Code42 service. We recommend that students arrange for their own backup, either to an external drive or a web-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 back in charge and they're locked out.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.