Adding insult to injury, ransomware coders are now targeting backup files. In response, Acronis is venturing a bit beyond data protection and using artificial intelligence (AI) to help protect users and their backup data.
A solid data backup strategy is considered one of the strongest defenses against ransomware. Although it can be major inconvenience to wipe and restore an infected system, it beats the alternatives: paying up or potentially losing valuable data for good. Sometimes, users who give in to ransom demands don't even get their data back.
So, it was only a matter of time before cyber-attackers set their sights on backups.
"Backup was always a solution for data loss regardless of the cause, and it's still is the only way to make sure you don't lose your data," said Gaidar Magdanurov, chief marketing officer at Acronis. "But criminals who use ransomware understand that a good backup can essentially unlock your system without having to pay them, so they are now targeting backup files."
Acronis True Image 2018, released this week, uses machine learning and AI to bolster its PC data backup functionality with anti-ransomware capabilities. "By using artificial intelligence-based technology to actively detect, stop and reverse ransomware attacks, we're beating criminals to the punch," Magdanurov said.
So far, Acronis' approach is working and is a sign of things to come from the rest of the data backup industry, he added.
"In fact, since introducing Acronis Active Protection earlier this year, we've helped 10,000 customers block more than 15,000 ransomware attacks," revealed Magdanurov. "So, whether it's a family using Acronis True Image 2018, or a business using Acronis Backup 12.5, we're making sure their data is safe and ready to use. We believe backup without this kind of protection will quickly become obsolete."
And Acronis' work is far from done. The company plans to invest at least $10 million into AI-enabled anti-ransomware technologies over the next three years.
Ransomware-busing capabilities aside, Acronis True Image 2018 also includes a new active disk cloning feature that allows users to clone an Windows PC using bootable media without restarting. It also offers a new virtual drive conversion feature that allows users to run their system backups in a Hyper-V virtualized environment and test if their applications work without taking chances with their primary computers.
The software's new Changed-Block Tracker technology allows for incremental backups that are up to three times faster than previous versions. Finally, the product enables automatic backups of mobile devices to network-attached storage (NAS) systems over Wi-Fi.
Acronis True Image 2018 is available now. Prices start at $49.99.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Enterprise Storage Forum. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.