Ransomware by any definition is a criminal cheap shot, taking advantage of unsuspecting individuals by blocking access to computing systems and/or important files. What's more, users have few proactive defense options that are effective.
Combining anti-malware and backup into one platform
Thankfully, that is changing with the advent of Data-Protection and Backup (DPB) software platforms. DPB software incorporates ransomware detection and data-protection elements into backup software. The idea is the platform will detect the attack, stop it, and reset the system and affected files. If that is not possible, the system files and data can be restored using the last safe backup version.
The theory sounds good; however, because it's relatively new, discerning individuals are going to want proof that DPB software systems do what is advertised. This is where the experts at AV-TEST come in.
SEE: Cybersecurity ebook: The ransomware battle (Tech Pro Research)
Testing data protection and backup platforms
Seeing a need, AV-TEST engineers developed an evaluation program to put DPB software through its paces. The DPB programs were required to defend "test PCs" running Windows 7 and data stored on the computers against two of the latest versions of crypto-Trojan Cerber, which proliferates via email attachments and infected websites. Tested DPB platforms included Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation Premium, Carbonite Personal PLUS, CrashPlan for Home, and iDrive.
In an AV-TEST press release, the authors said, "All the DPB programs tested can handle traditional backup methods, e.g. backup copies in individual files, as well as images of a complete system on storage media such as external hard drives."
The results were published in the AV-TEST report Data Protection and Backup Software Test (03 Apr 2017) (PDF). The DPB platforms were evaluated on these criteria: Usability, Performance, Functionality, and Threat Protection.
This criterion measures the ease and comfort level when installing and setting up the application. The language used is evaluated to determine if it is appropriate for a variety of users from novice to proficient users. AV-TEST engineers favored the Acronis install, which is straightforward and includes a wizard for creating backup jobs. However, the testers noted that setup preferences are highly subjective.
The time required for users to create complete and incremental backups of the entire system and differential data sets, along with the time needed to recover the same data, was measured. A common feature of modern backup systems is the continuous backup of files or designated folders. The speed of data backup, how quickly restoration can occur, and the frequency of backing up data are all critical to successfully foiling ransomware.
"Acronis True Image is the clear winner when it comes to performance," the report said. "No other product reaches similar speed when backing up or restoring data for small, large system, or changed files and data stored on HDD or SSD."
AV-TEST engineers determined the features considered vital for a data protection application. "We validated the existence of such features in the application and through information provided online by the vendors," the report said. "Acronis shared first place with iDrive, both having 33 out of a possible 39 features required in this category."
Threat protection tests determine whether the data on the system can be recovered after an infection. The data-protection suite must be able to keep its recovery capabilities even after an attack has occurred.
"Acronis is the only tested DPB offering an active ransomware protection," the AV-TEST report said. "It stopped all five encryptors tested. In only one case, the files could not be recovered by Acronis and the local backup was also affected."
Acronis is the only product to satisfy AV-TEST's requirements and obtain the company's Approved Backup & Data Security Software certificate. Acronis's product was first or shared first in all categories. The product received a:
- 78% on usability rating
- 92% on performance
- 85% on available features
- 90% on active threat protection
The people at AV-TEST feel their testing shows anti-malware ought to include some form of backup software.
One more thing to pay attention to when shopping for a DPB package — according to AV-TEST, Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation Premium is currently the only DPB solution capable of stopping ransomware attacks.
- How to avoid ransomware attacks: 10 tips (TechRepublic)
- I infected my Windows computer with ransomware to test RansomFree's protection (TechRepublic)
- No More Ransom takes a bite out of ransomware (TechRepublic)
- Ransomware is now so awful it's actually making us take security seriously (ZDNet)
- Ransomware: Why it's a really big problem for small businesses (ZDNet)
Have you used any of the products discussed here? Share your recommendations and advice with fellow TechRepublic members.
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