Advent tip #2: Defend yourself from ransomware – back up your files!

Whether you’re taking your laptop on holiday, or sticking at home with your faithful desktop this festive season…

…we’d like to remind you of a chore we all know we’re supposed to do regularly, but that many of us put off, sometimes until it’s too late.


Think of all the things that could go wrong with your hard disk and your data.

Lost, stolen, ruined by beach sand (less sympathy there!), dropped in Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve (same), covered in Christmas pudding sauce, misused by a well-meaning toddler, “reconfigured” by teenaged IT “expert” trying to show off Linux to grandma, deleted by mistake, hardware failure, and so on.

Or, perhaps most odiously of all, held for extortion by ransomware.

Ransomware, as we’re sure you know, is the punch-in-the-face malware that scrambles your files, sends the only copy of the decryption key to the crooks, and then offers to sell the key back to you.

With a decent, recent backup you can recover from most of the situations listed above, including ransomware.

Remember: the crooks who create ransomware are banking on the fact that the local copies of your file are the only ones.

Three quick tips:

  • Keep at least one backup offline and offsite, e.g. on a removable disk in a safe deposit box or at a trusted friend’s house.
  • Use a backup program that encrypts your data securely so only you can restore it. Bitlocker on Windows can automatically encrypt removable disks; on a Mac, Time Machine can create encrypted backups.
  • The only backup you’ll ever regret is the one you left for another day.

Images of Christmas tree and Advent calendar courtesy of Shutterstock.