Recently, there has been a rash of trojan and rootkit infections in both the PC and Mac world (yes I said Mac) that have been particularly nasty in wiping out operating systems.
We have seen a few come through our office and the survival rate (meaning without having to re-install from scratch) has been about 3/5.
That being said, it still amazes us that when clients, especially 1 person business clients, come to us with these issues and use words like “priority” and “desperate” and “panic” becuase everything they do is on that sole machine. Any loss would be devastating to them. No surprise to us, they haven’t thought of backup in most cases, or any kind of disaster planning.
So after we “Fix” the problem or retrieve their data we have to give them a crash course in their technology. Most of this will sound like disaster recovery planning, but with today’s level of integration into business, what ISN’T?
To start, the first question we ask is: “Do you backup your critical information.” Generally, the answer is NO because panic and devastation would not be as strongly conveyed if they had a good backup in place. We recommend 2 types of backup for all businesses. The first being the traditional “data” backup which protects your day to day work such as accounting, email or client databases. The second is the “image” backup which allows you to quickly restore your computers complete state in case of disaster. An image backup allows you to revert your computer back to a point before the problem occured and keeps your programs and settings all in tact.
The second question we ask is based on the infection they just encountered. “How do you connect to the internet?” The question derives from understanding whether or not the user accesses the internet via wireless, wired networks, free wi-fi, portable wi-fi or any other combination thereof. Sometimes, we get clients whose entire life is on a single laptop and they use free wi-fi at every opportunity. That is a double edged sword with greate convenience and great exposure to hacking or infection.
The third question we ask is “What do you use to protect your system?”. Now the common answer from Mac users is “Nothing. Macs don’t get viruses!” Don’t start me on that one. That is a whole other blog entry, sufficed to say that Macs (as well as Android) DO GET VIRUSES. Believe it or not, Mac hardware these days is exactly the same as PC hardware and so can be exploited equally. We recommend 2 levels of security which includes anti-virus/malware and firewall control to protect yourself but there are lots of options for layering your security depending on the risk and the level of protection you need.
The fourth question is “How do you transmit your information to others?”. This question inevitably gets a funny reaction becaues most people thing strictly about email. The truth is we get clients who come in with serious infection not realizing that sharing usb memory sticks, portable harddrives, ipods or even syncing multiple phones on the same unit can transmit and replicate serious intrusions. How many times have you or somebody else used a USB key to trade info without checking it first?
The last question we ask our clients when recently nailed by a security intrusion. “Do you have a backup and do you check the backup to make sure it is good.” YES. I repeated question 1. Why? Because, a good backup avoids the stress and unknown urgency in a critical failure. It may be annoying, and make take some time to recover but having a good backup solution can reduce the stress and the guesswork involved in fixing a critical system. To that end, if you need to find a good backup, visit www.backupmycomputernow.com.