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California Presbyterian Medical Center made lots of headlines in February 2016, when they had to ransom their data from hackers who had encrypted it. Unfortunately, these kinds of infections are becoming more common and more difficult to defend against. Police departments, government agencies, medical facilities, attorney offices and a whole host of others have had to pay to get their data back.

Here's how they work: Usually, they are delivered through an email attachment, although there have been some website infections reported as well. When the computer receives the virus, it keeps quiet for a day or two while it silently encrypts all the data it can find. The original CryptoLocker would only attack files on the local computer, but recent copycat crypto-viruses have begun to encrypt everything they can find. This includes all data on the local machine, all data on mapped network drives (Z:\ pointing to QuickBooks files on the server, etc.), all backup files and drives it can find and all network shares it can find (\\myserver\accounting, etc.)

Basically, if your computer gets infected, all your data that your computer can reach will become encrypted and you won't be able to decrypt it without spending lots of money in ransom. If you are backing up to a drive you can see in your file folders, it will become encrypted as well, preventing you from restoring from a backup.

If the Crypto-program can reach your backup file, it can encrypt the backup file. It doesn't need to encrypt all the files inside to keep you from restoring. If your restore program doesn't have the decrypt key, you aren't getting any of your data back.

If you regularly backup your data, overwriting the old data with the new, you aren't protected. The Crypto-programs routinely take 1-2 days to encrypt your data, so you may end up overwriting your good data with the newer, encrypted data. You need what is called "Versioning," which keeps versions of your files going back several days or months. Without being able to restore the version just before the program began encrypting data, you will not recover your data.

While it is possible to create a backup at your office or home that will keep versions of your data out of reach of crypto-viruses, by far the easiest way to backup your data is to use an online backup. VCC can help you to determine what is needed to keep you and your data safe.

We are a Mozy reseller. Toby checks the backup status of all our clients every morning to make sure the backups are working properly. All software will eventually fail. It important that you know that your data is being backed up properly. Most companies don't log into their servers regularly to receive notification of backup failure. VCC will know and fix the problem.

Sixty percent of the companies that lose their line-of-business data will go out of business within 6 months. To put that in perspective, only 30% of the businesses that suffer a catastrophic fire go out of business. Yet, companies insure for fire and cheap out on data backup. Given the number of huge companies that have suffered horrific hacks, it is impossible to think that it can't happen to a small business. It can. Are you prepared?

VCC can easily setup a program to protect you. You just need to do a little planning.