Security Awareness

SEPTEMBER 2018: PERSONAL DATA BACKUP

Cyber Travis facing leftEver been spared from losing hours of work by autosaves in a program like Microsoft Word? Autosave is a great feature, and it's saved many a user from data loss in the face of a system hang or power outage. Unfortunately, it can only do so much. For instance, it can't help you if your device is stolen or compromised by malware. Wouldn't it be nice if there were something like autosave for your whole computer? If there were, would you be interested in it? If so, consider setting some time aside to set up automatic backups on your personal devices. We already back up the files on your UWGB network drives whenever they're saved to protect them from accidental or malicious deletion. With a few minutes of your time and perhaps a little money, you can have a backup plan for the files on your own devices as well. Backing up the devices you own can help save you from becoming a victim of data loss should one be lost, stolen, or destroyed. It's also the best (and simplest) defense against ransomware and other such threats. Though it may have been a pain to get automatic backups set up in ages gone by, it's now super easy to get started! There are plenty of ways to keep your personal data secure, but the two detailed below are the most accessible. For best results, consider using both!

Local Backups

Copies of your data are kept on physical storage media (such as a USB flash drive or external hard disk) that connects to your computer.

Advantages:
  • Most modern computers come with built-in backup software. Recent versions of Windows have File History, and Macintosh users have Time Machine.
  • External storage is much cheaper than it used to be. Invest once and worry about monthly/yearly fees never!
    • For those who don't have too much data to protect, a sufficiently large USB3 flash drive can provide a cost-effective home for your backups. You may even already have one lying around!
    • For extra security, unplug your backup media when not in use to provide extra protection against ransomware or accidental deletion
  • With local backups, you won't need to connect to the Internet to retrieve your files. This can be useful in situations where you have limited Internet access (or none at all) find yourself in need of your backups.

Disadvantages:
  • This solution isn't practical for all device types. For instance, the use of removable media isn't always convenient or even possible with certain phones and tablets.
  • If you leave your backup media plugged in to your computer, it may result in a higher likelihood of losing both your backups and original files at the same time.
  • You're limited to the space available on your backup media of choice.

Cloud Backup Services

Data to be backed up is sent over the Internet to the service provider, who stores it for you on their servers until you need it.

Advantages:
  • Backups are stored off-site, which means you’ll still have a copy even if your both your device and backup media are destroyed or stolen.
    • Since your device won't be able to modify these backups directly, this scheme is also more resistant to threats like ransomware!
  • Since large amounts of space are usually offered, these services may prove particularly suitable for people who need to back up a lot of stuff.
  • Many cloud backup solutions also support devices like phones and tablets, thus allowing customers with many gadgets to conveniently back up all of their files to one location.
Disadvantages:
  • Cloud backups are usually offered on a subscription basis, which can make these services more costly over time than locally-stored backups.
  • Since they can generate a lot of Internet traffic, cloud backups may be unsuitable for people who rely on limited, metered, or slow connections.
  • You'll need to choose a backup service that you trust to handle your data responsibly. Look for a provider that has a good reputation with users and follows sound security practices. Remember to make sure you’re comfortable with their privacy policy and any applicable terms of service before signing up.