Backing Up Data And Protecting It

Are you backing up your data regularly?  There are a growing number of threats on the internet right now and people are reporting that their data is becoming corrupted or damaged by viruses, malware, and spyware.  One friend of mine had their computer compromised by a ransomware program and their data was locked up for a total ransom of about $700 (payable by Bitcoin of course).  The thing is, if she had had her data backed up, this never would have happened.

Many people don’t back up their data because they simply can’t remember to do it regularly.  This problem can be solved by using an automatic cloud backup service such as Backblaze.  I personally use Backblaze on both of my computers and I find that it’s an incredibly easy to use set and forget solution.  I once had a hard disk fail on me in the middle of a project and I was able to recover the files I needed quickly.  Backblaze literally saved me hours of time!  It was really quite remarkable.  I would have been up the proverbial creek without a paddle if I hadn’t had Backblaze.

But I digress.  If you want to protect your data you really do need a backup solution as your first line of defense.  I almost think that it’s number one BEFORE getting an antivirus software tool.  This is because these tools are not perfect and a virus could still slip through, damaging your files.  If you have things backed up then no virus can really damage everything.

However, after backing up your data, you DO need a good antivirus and antimalware software tool running on your computer.  We have tested a few of the best, and we really like what we see from Spyhunter, Malwarebytes, and Avast.

The most lightweight of these programs is Spyhunter 4.  This program will get rid of threats on your computer and run scans preventing you from missing anything in the background.  It’s very simple and easy to use (check out this Spyhunter review by WeHateMalware) and even those that aren’t computer pros will get the hang of it very quickly.

After Spyhunter is Malwarebytes.  This is also a paid program that offers a few more features such as the blocking of suspicious websites and machine learning behavior designed to prevent zero day threats and infections.

After that is Avast, the “biggest” of the three in terms of features and bells and whistles.  Avast also has a free version for those that are really trying to save money.

Each of these programs is very very good and will go a long way towards protecting your computer from threats and infections.  I’m personally using Avast right now and I have used Spyhunter and Malwarebytes in the past.  We have also used Reimage to repair damage done to system files after a virus was found in my computer, preventing me from using it.

The thing about Avast that we really like is the ability to protect your internet connected devices (the “internet of things”) and ensure they aren’t caught up in a bot net.  Did you know that an IoT attack on website Krebs On Security cost consumers over $300,000 USD in total of extra resources and energy by pulling their smart devices into a bot net?

Ancient Ways Of Computer Security

I was doing some research for a project the other day and stumbled on an old article on how to avoid viruses.  It’s amazing how far technology has come, and I found it amusing to read this older article.

When possible, try new software on a floppy drive machine that has no hard disk or has its hard disk turned off. The worst that can happen, then, is that the program destroys your floppy diskette during your evaluation, unless the virus is very clever.

Minimize contact with possible carriers of a virus. Bulletin boards carrying games are more likely virus sources than those not carrying them, as there is a general suspicion that young, game-interested programmers are the cause of most worms and viruses. Shareware purchased from the author probably is safer than the same software from a bulletin board or friend.

Write-protect your program files. MS-DOS stores files with several different attributes that most users normally ignore. One of these attributes determines whether this file may be changed or deleted or not. You can use the Norton utility FA to change all those attributes in your program files so that a worm or virus has more trouble altering such files.

For FA, the command syntax is this: FA *.Exe /R+ and FA *.Com /R+

Similar utilities are provided with other DOS utility packages.

Keep master copies of all of your programs on floppies. When a virus is suspected, use a file comparison utility to determine if the file on your hard disk differs in any way from the original on your floppy. If the files do differ, you may have spotted the trouble. Copy the suspect file to a diskette for later analysis, erase the suspect file from your hard disk, and copy from your master to the hard disk.

Use a program that can determine if a virus has modified any of your other software.

Antidote runs when you boot the system and examines files for alteration. Any files that have been changed since your last boot, either by accident or malice, will be identified so you may delete and replace them from your backups, if needed. If files such as Command.com have been altered, chances are the damage occurred since your last boot, and you may be able to identify the suspect.

When a virus or worm begins its campaign of terror, it may take a very clever, computer-literate detective to determine what is going on, what caused it and how to stop it.

If you are not as clever or computer-literate as you would like, find someone to assist before proceeding, as a good virus may destroy the clues that would track it down.

Back up hard disks frequently. Maintain two or three sets of backups. If a virus is detected, the hard disk can be reformatted and files restored from the last backup. If the virus still is detected, the process can be repeated with the previous backup.

Stang, David J. “Security habits build healthy software.” Government Computer News 27 May 1988: 53+.