Backup – Your Password to Safety
The WannaCry ransomware caused a lot of troubles to public organizations and ordinary users like you and me. Even those who were lucky to avoid infesting, had some rocky moments thinking about safety of the files. ‘What if…’ are the two most terrible words ever. What if some malware cripples my data and I’ll lose them forever? Not that it makes one’s hair to stand on end, but … OK, it does.
What shall we do? When you get your OS and antivirus updated you should backup your files. In other words, you must copy them and store somewhere safe so that in a case of emergency you could replace the corrupted files with their healthy copies. Obviously, you should keep backing the files up on regular intervals (the shorter, the better) to catch up with all the changes on your PC or Mac hard drive.
I back up my working files every two days myself. As a Windows user I use OneDrive and Google Drive but you can use iCloud if you’re on Mac. But then I double back up my files on an external hard drive for good measure. My hard drive has no network access and that’s critical for safety nowadays. Let me explain why and take up five minutes of your time. This will be one of the best investments into digital safety.
Our goals are to protect the files from corruption and from theft. The best option is to combine the two aspects. The easiest way to back up the files is to divide your PC hard drive and store the backups in a separate independent sector. This is called partition. It can be achieved by build-in OS tools: Disk Management tool in Windows and Disk Utility in OS X. Still, third-party software features some expanded functions these tools lack. For example, they can shrink the already existing sector to gain more space in a new one. The number one third-party partition manager for both OS is Paragon. Mac users can also try Stellar or iPartition.
But saving the backups on the same drive is a bad idea. If your PC is hacked, the culprit gets an access to all your partitions. You can use the encrypting software to encrypt the backups, of course, but every crypt can be hacked as well. The criminals can just copy the partition to their machines and they’ll have all time in the world to hack your archives or picture albums.
Because the sad truth is: every online device can be compromised. Literally – every single one. So sensitive information must be stored offline. From the point of security, the best option is an external hard drive. Not even NAS or home server, for they too have to be incorporated into the home network. Several years ago I’d have written about special models and brands for Macs, but today all manufacturers produce external hard drives which are compatible both with IBM PC and Macs.
An external hard drive should be reliable, capacious, quick and drop-proof. Ideally, waterproof as well. If you’re going to store images and videos, pay attention to disks starting with 1 TB of storage. LaCie, SunDisk, Samsung, Seagate and many others offer hard drives with USB type C sockets, so you won’t have any problem finding your favorite for the latest MacBook Pro or Surface Laptop. You must pay attention to the trouble-free life manufacturers promise, though. SunDisk and Seagate are reported to have the longest life from the users’ reviews. We don’t recommend any SSD external drive as these are very expensive and besides aren’t too friendly to multiple cycles of reading and writing.
What about clouds, you may ask. Surely, iCloud and OneDrive and other major players in the field approaches the security issue with might care and have security departments. We’re sorry to say that even most secure clouds can be hacked. More than that – they have to endure the attacks every day and sometimes those attacks are successful.
On August 31, 2014, various female celebrities found that their private pictures were posted on the imageboard4chan, and from their made their ways to Imgur and Reddit. The iCloud app turned out to have a grave security issue and the hackers simply guessed most users’ passwords. On February 1, 2017 more than 2.5 million accounts by PlayStation and Xbox players leaked from the service.
We don’t want to scare you out of your wits, we just want to show you how easily your personal data can be compromised. Your email provider can be hacked as well as your favorite discussion board. Everything. If you go to haveibeenpwned.com and type in your email, you can get info about your email being compromised or not. I have several emails, one of them about 17 years old and the other is a fresh one. I never got registered on scum sites, just on discussion boards, online stores and such likes. And I have separate emails for social networks, stores, boards and job. And you know what? The only email box that wasn’t compromised was the one I got some seven months ago.
What does it mean? It means that most databases leak like an old bucket. So saving your most private photos online is a bad, really bad idea. Of course, the external hard drive can also be pilfered or lost or left behind. But, hey, this can happen to any material object in our life: the apartment’s keys or car keys for instance. It’s not a reason to not to have any.
And while you go looking for a new hard drive, I’m going to back this text up. Stay safe online!
PS – Before you decide to switch to a new device and thus trade in your old one for cash, remember to backup all the info on the device you are going to sell online: Sell old electronics online now.