Ransomware? No problem

A cheap and effective way of beating the ransomware bandits

let’s look at this from the other end first. Imagine you run a small business , like I do. The phone rings. It one of your people telling you that they can’t access any billing or client order information.

Even worse, there’s a message on the screen demanding a hefty payment to unlock your files again. S**t barely begins to describe the situation.

You can’t fulfil orders or send invoices and you suddenly remember the stat that 70% of small business that have a major data loss go bust within 12 months.

Your livelihood, and that of your people is now in the hands of a group of unscrupulous strangers who may or may not unlock your files even of you decide to pay.

But you’re OK, after all, you have all your daily, weekly and monthly backups ready to restore. Yeah, I thought so.

One more thought to go with backups: when did you last test restoring one? Yeah, I believe you here as well.

My question at this point is: How much would you pay for a solution that gets your files back to how they were at the end of the previous working day and doesn’t involve the dubiously legal paying ransoms?

I think it’s “pick a number time“. I’m guessing you are thinking about thousands or tens of thousands of pounds, or your local equivalent. That’s a lot of profit lost for a small business and may be the difference between profitability and bankruptcy.

And the solution is…..

Dropbox. Or more specifically a Dropbox Plus or Dropbox for Business subscription. And it can be done under 100 pound a year. Rather better than “thousands or tens of thousands“, isn’t it.

Dropbox Plus is the one I use and it hasn’t failed me yet.

A caveat: A single Dropbox plus subscription cover a single user, but for as many devices as they use, including tablet and phones. If you are running a company file server, the file server is one user. Neat.

If you are protecting individual device, it’s one subscription per user. However, I think that’s cheap compared with spending “thousands or tens of thousands” trying to get your data back.

And for your money you get

The key thing for me is the ability to roll your whole Dropbox account to a time before the ransomware struck.

Lets try that again: you get the ability to roll your whole Dropbox account to a time before the ransomware struck. With Dropbox Plus you can roll back up to 30 days and 180 days for Dropbox Business.

And carry on making the money that you and your people need.

OK, so maybe you lose a day or two’s work, but which would you rather do, call yesterday’s client and explain (you would be honest with your clients, wouldn’t you?) that

  • Due to an IT problem you couldn’t get access to yesterday’s transaction or
  • Due to an IT problem you had lost all your financial and business records

It doesn’t need too much thinking about, does it?

At a less dramatic level, you may need to recover an individual file. perhaps it was accidentally deleted, or you simply need to refer to an earlier version.

No problem. Drop Plus allow you to get restore versions for a file for the last 30 days, which should be enough for most situation. If not Dropbox Business extends this to 180 days.

And it’s not just for business

Thousand of people in the UK lose of have their mobile phone stolen, and these often contain years of irreplaceable photos. Install the Dropbox app on your phone and all your photos get back up to your Dropbox account as you take them.

I know my son and daughter in law would have wanted to have this when their main mobile died, taking over a decades worth of family photos with it.

And yes, they did try all kinds of ways, some cheap and some expensive, of getting them back without success.

And the best bit

Just like the mobile Dropbox app backs up photos, the PC version backs up any file that has been changed as it it changed. No, I don’t know how, but I don’t care.

How does it work

The PC version of Dropbox creates a special folder call, logically enough, Dropbox. Any files in that folder are automatically synchronised with your online Dropbox account.

While it’s possible to pick and choose which files to back up, I simply moved all my Windows special folders (documents, music, pictures and downloads) into the Dropbox folder and stopped worrying.

If you don’y know how to this, there are literally hundred of “How-to” guides on the internet. To me, this is a no brainer and well worth the effort.

So now, when that phone call comes in….

It’s still a pain, and you definitely need to find out how it happened and put training and procedures in place to stop it happening again.

But the restore? You or your appointed Dropbox savvy staff member log onto your Dropbox account, select the date you want to roll back to, called “rewinding” by Dropbox, and enjoy the ride.

It may not be quite that simple because you need to be sure how far back you need to rewind, but compare to the cost and inconvenience of other disaster recovery methods, that’s a piece of cake.

Transparency declaration

I have no affiliation with Dropbox beyond being a satisfied customer of for many years. I am not being paid, or offered any incentive to write this article.

I’m doing this purely because I because I enjoy helping people avoid all my mistakes. And no, I’m not going to tell you hat they were, just that while they helped make me who I am today they were painful and expensive at the time.

Finally

I hope you found this post useful and enjoyed reading it. If you have any comments or want to share your experiences, leave a comment below.

Bob Windmill

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