Virtualization Technology News and Information
Mitigating the Ransomware Risk

Survey suggests disconnect between the threat of ransomware and preparedness while independent comparison points to a clear best option for blocking attacks.

Article Written by Frank Jablonski, vice president, Global Product Marketing, Acronis

It's a message that you never want to see. A banner suddenly appears on your screen informing you that your computer's entire file system has been locked, along with a note suggesting how you can unlock your computer for a fee. Your data is now being held hostage. Google the term "ransomware message" and have a look at the dazzling number the message variations that now exist. It is not a small problem.

For context, ransomware syphoned off $1 billion in 2016 alone, according to the FBI. While public cases receive prime media coverage, attacks on home computers go underreported.

"Security threats are certainly coming after consumers, not just enterprises," commented Eric O'Neill, former FBI counter-terrorism and counterintelligence operative, in a recent interview with Acronis. "We tend to think of it as a problem for business or government. The fact of the matter is that most of the malware is affecting grandparents, parents, and anyone with an email account and a computer."

Simply keeping your data regularly backed up and physically isolated from your system (when not conducting a backup) is a rudimentary, although not complete, way of protecting data. However, there are options specifically aimed at protecting your system against such malware attacks.

With these concerns in mind, noted software security testing firm MRG Effitas conducted a battery of tests aimed at assessing the ability of competing backup and protection software packages to block ransomware from infecting computer systems and backups of those computers.

In addition, Acronis, a global leader in hybrid cloud data protection and storage, recently completed its World Backup Day 2017 Survey with the help of Google Surveys in six different countries (U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany, France, and Japan). The results of both reports were revealing.

Acronis Survey Suggests Ransomware Risks

One key finding in the Acronis survey pointed to a substantive gap between the threat that ransomware attacks pose and the awareness of the risk by respondents-and their preparedness to handle any such attack.

Acronis survey findings regarding ransomware awareness:

  • Despite the highly-publicized ransomware attacks, more than 66 percent of the respondents said they have never heard of ransomware.
  • While 67.2 percent placed great importance on their personal information, documents, pictures, videos, and music, only 5.8 percent realized that it can cost more than $500 to get the data back after a ransomware event.

"This survey exposed a serious disparity between the value assigned to respondent data and what is actually being done to protect that data," said Serguei Beloussov, founder and CEO of Acronis. "This is true for both the consumer market and for businesses.

"Backup still remains the most effective vaccine against data loss. Affordable backup software is readily available and there is no excuse for losing your data or exposing it to cyber criminals and ransomware attacks."

MRG Effitas Comparative Test Findings

The number of tools purported to provide protection against ransomware is growing, just as the number and kinds of ransomware attacks is rising. But not every data protection product is created equal and it is virtually impossible for the typical user and IT professional to divine the nuances of effectiveness by reading a list of features. Some products simply do a better job.

MRG Effitas, a UK-based independent IT security research company that provides a range of efficacy assessment and assurance services to its global client base, saw a need for an independent comparison. The test company identified a collection of options that all claimed to provide backup-based protection and assessed them in a head-to-head capability comparison. Their aim was to provide a clearer view of the demands and offerings when it comes to choosing the most suitable software for an individual.

The result was a comprehensive 2017 report entitled "MRG Effitas Comparative Assessment of Data Protection/Backup Products on Protection, Performance, and Usability."

The testing agency's findings were unequivocal.

"Among all the products we tested, only Acronis True Image 2017 Next Generation was able to protect the backups from every ransomware family," states the company's final results conclusion. "The other solutions have basically zero backup protection when it comes to ransomware.

"Based on the tests, only Acronis's backup file is protected against ransomware, the other products archives are only left untouched if the ransomware is not configured to encrypt that kind of file type."

Table 1 summarizes MRG Effitas's findings for tested data protection options in mitigating against a number of the most well-known ransomware threats.


Copyright 2017 Effitas Ltd.                               

Table 1-MRG Effitas Ransomware Protection Test Findings

That's not all. MRG Effitas also found that "Acronis won most performance tests, and when it did not win, it finished second."

In this space, Acronis's data protection solution is without peer.

Published Tuesday, April 25, 2017 7:02 AM by David Marshall
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