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 Cyber Security Awareness Month, one great reason to focus on is protection against ransomware.
Put very simply, ransomware is malicious software that criminals trick people into installing on their computers. Once installed, the criminals lock the victim out 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, they will do any such thing.
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 set up for your computer. There are many options available for backups, and for Cornell faculty and staff, a really good one is the university's EZ-Backup service.
Having good backups foils cybercrime like ransomware by letting you "roll back" your computer to a recent point in time before your computer got 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 are locked out.
EZ-Backup currently backs up over 3,900 computers and servers for departments across campus, as well as Cornell's server "farm" in Rhodes Hall, home to critical university data. It allows you to choose what time to back up, how often, which files to include and exclude, and how many versions of files to store. EZ-Backup also offers archiving. You can retrieve files any time, day or night.
As a cost-recovered service of CIT, everyone who uses EZ-Backup shares the pooled costs of running it, meaning that there is no cost burden to the university. Every effort is made to keep EZ-Backup economical--the cost of backing up and restoring 500GB is less than a third what it was in 2012.