Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Back Up Your Work!

I know, two posts from me in one day.  Normally I'd space stuff out, but this is very important:


Reason #9:  Cryptoviruses are Scary. Like, total freaking-out make-grown-men-cry scary.

Today at the Day Job one of our users picked up a cryptovirus.  It scanned her whole computer (including connected network drives) and encrypted all her data. Then, it told her that unless she paid them a ransom of  US$300/EU€300, her data would remain encrypted forever.  The program included payment options that are rather untraceable.

If you read about something like this in the news you'd be, "whatever".  But to witness it in real life was SCARY.  The moment we identified that we were dealing with a cryptovirus, we went to battle stations.

1.  We unplugged the computer from the network.  Isolation of an infected computer is paramount.

2.  We diagnosed the disease.  While you'd think that step #3 would be the logical next step, we always do a touch of investigation when this sort of thing happens.  What are we dealing with?  Is it a danger to anything else on our system? This is important in case something spreads.

When we tried to clean it off the machine, it upped the stakes:

See that bit at the bottom that says if you attempt to clean off the virus, your stuff will remain encrypted forever?  That's just mean.

3.  Nuke the machine from orbit.  It's the only way to be sure.  Now that the machine is confirmed infected, we completely mind-wipe the sucker--virus, documents, operating system, everything.  Completely gone.

What, you say?  What about the poor lady's documents?

This, dear readers, is why we have backups.

Backing up your work isn't just for writers and accountants.  If you're an average joe with a computer, chances are you've got personal stuff on there--photos of the kids, etc.  A cryptovirus will scramble these into an unusable state.  I've lost personal stuff like photographs before (when a HDD went ker-splodey).  Broke my heart.

I don't want to see that happen to you.

Please make a backup of everything on your computer that is important to you.  (If it's not important, why are you keeping it?)  External hard drives have come down in price. Even the humble thumb drive may save your bacon one day.  Other computers, burnt CDs, Clouds...  There's plenty of options.

I will cry if I hear something happened to you and you didn't have adequate backup.

Go back up your work.  Please.

Her Grace believes inadequate backups are like kicking puppies. It makes the whole world cry.  This Public Service Announcement brought to you by real-life tragedy.

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