Ransomware Backup Strategy – 7 Best Practices to Protect Backup Files

Written By Sambita Panigrahy  
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh 
Published On May 1st, 2023
Reading Time 7 Minutes Reading

A ransomware attack is one of the most dangerous forms of cyberattack that can ruin an established business in a matter of seconds. No matter what the size of your business is, the attacker’s prime target in this type of attack is to compromise the most critical asset of your business i.e. “sensitive data”.

Though most businesses secure their crucial data in the form of backups, unfortunately, backups are also vulnerable to ransomware attacks. 

So, without a secure dependable ransomware backup strategy, it might be difficult to win the battle against these attacks.

Before moving ahead with the strategy, there are some myths associated with ransomware you should know.

Myths About Ransomware 

Whenever there is a discussion regarding backups for ransomware protection, some outdated and wrong ideas roam around the topic. Have a look at those myths.

Myth #1: Ransomware attack can’t infect backups because it activates immediately which is not true at all. Because some ransomware acts as a timebomb. They wait before being started and this strategy was created by hackers to knock out backups.

Myth #2: Ransomware only corrupts Windows that’s why crossing over to backup on a different operating system strips out the threat. Whereas the truth is that infected files can be stored on a cloud platform, and the encryption can still activate there.

Myth #3: Backups that are encrypted prevent ransomware from activating. If the code of an executable file has been altered by encryption, it won’t run. However, the infection will become executable once more and activate if you unbundle that backup in order to recover from an infection.

Myth #4: Only large corporations are targeted by ransomware. Unfortunately, anyone could become a victim. On their personal computers, even private users experience attacks.

Myth #5: Paying the ransom doesn’t always result in receiving the decryption key, thus it’s less expensive and easier to prepare to do so than to invest money on recovery solutions. Additionally, people who pay the ransom make themselves obvious candidates for infection again.

Myth #6: Attacks using ransomware are acts of retaliation against large organizations that have cheated people. Revenge attacks against corporations that mistreat employees do happen, but many ransomware hackers just send out phishing emails in large quantities in the hopes that some of them would succeed.

How Exactly Ransomware Attacks are Executed?

Usually, hackers use email as an option to get into the system, and the code for system encryption is embedded in an attachment. Another source for ransomware to enter the target system is through malicious websites that pop up a notification letting the victim know that their systems are infected. And, they need to download a tool to remove it.

Potential ransomware can be hidden in the form of PDFs, ZIP files, RAR files, IMG, ISO, and EXE files. So, when the ransomware is installed, initially it encrypts the computer where it is downloaded. That means the moment a user opens the malicious email attachment or downloads a file from a malicious website, those will be encrypted.

However, nowadays, hackers are advancing and they carry out sophisticated ransomware attacks. In such cases, the malicious software can travel across a network and further time-delayed viruses can be uploaded through syncing.

From the above discussion, it’s clear that without a proper ransomware backup strategy, hackers could trace past backup systems & infect the same.

So, what can be done to protect your backups from ransomware? Let’s have a look at the below section.

Keep Backup Files Safe from Ransomware

Basically, when hackers execute ransomware attacks, their aim is to infect the assets including backup servers. Even though it can’t activate the backup files, it can still reinfect the protected devices once they are restored.

You know infected backup copies are useless. So, unfortunately, if you fall victim to a ransomware attack before it could make any further damage, containing it would be a wise step.

Experts suggest that instead of focusing on attempting to remove ransomware from the backup server it’s better to restrict it from getting there.

Hence, you can follow the below points as a part of the ransomware backup strategy and block:

  • Users from downloading viruses and infected files
  • Infections from transmitting around the network
  • Ransomware from uploading to shared drives through syncing
  • Ransomware from entering the backup server

Apart from that organizations can also follow the ransomware backup best practices mentioned below.

1. Review and Update Backup Policies

Inspecting and reviewing backup policies and procedures on a regular basis could minimize the impact of data breaches, especially ransomware attacks.

Usually, cyber experts suggest not paying the ransom after the attack since it doesn’t guarantee you would get back your files. So, it’s advised to CIOs (Chief Information Officers) to conduct a thorough audit of all data in all locations. Whether the data is stored in the cloud or locally, it must be examined from a security point of view.

2. Encrypt Backup Data

Encrypted data can be read or processed when it is decrypted using a secret key. So, the data backup approach must include encryption as it is a strong way to protect sensitive data.

Since encryption involves the process where the data is converted to an unreadable format, it will be difficult for unauthorized users to read it.

3. Implement Immutable Storage

Immutable storage is often called Write Once Read Many (WORM) storage where stored data can’t be deleted or changed. Using this feature, organizations can lock objects for a certain period. As a result, they can prevent unauthorized users (hackers) from deleting or altering the data.

4. Air Gap Sensitive Data

Another ransomware backup strategy includes Air Gap. It is a security approach where computers, networks, or computer systems are not connected to other networks or devices. When airtight security is required by the organization, this approach is generally adopted. 

Ideally, the Air Gap strategy ensures total isolation (electronically, electromagnetically, and physically) of a system from different networks. 

5. Adopt the 3-2-1 Strategy

The 3-2-1 backup strategy is a well-known approach that most IT security professionals recommend. It goes like this;

  • 3 – Three copies of your data 
  • 2 – Two media types for the backup
  • 1- One stored in an offsite location

ransomware backup strategy

These layers of security will ensure the availability of your resource even if you lose data in one media type. Because by applying this approach you will have a chance to restore your data from other copies.

6. Ensure Coverage

Make sure your backup solution includes all of the data infrastructure for your company. Following a ransomware attack, you should be able to restore all of your important data using this method. 

Endpoints, NAS shares, servers, and cloud storage must all be covered. You must safeguard all of your operating systems, including older ones, as many firms utilize them. You will also need to back up the data if you utilize or depend on it.

7. Test the Backup Plan

Last but not least, testing all backup and recovery plans is a necessary part of the ransomware backup strategy. Because it’ll help in identifying gaps in the plan and remediate them to ensure that backups are production-ready and can support the organization’s recovery point objective.

How SysTools Can Help?

Undoubtedly, deploying all the above practices can help you to safe keep your backup files from a ransomware attack. But, to stay one step ahead of the hacker, you are gonna need professional help. And, that’s when team SysTools comes into the picture. 

Our skilled team of cyber experts understands today’s ever-challenging security risks and knows how to effectively tackle those. With SysTools’ Managed Cybersecurity Services, you can protect data estate from the inside out. To enquire about our services contact our team now!