OUCH! | August 2015
• What to Back Up and When
• How to Back Up
• Recovery
• Key Points
Backup & Recovery
Sooner or later, you most likely will have something
Guest Editor
go wrong and lose your personal files, documents or
Heather Mahalik is an industry-recognized forensics expert
photos. Examples include accidently deleting the wrong
who focuses on smartphone forensics. She is co-author
of Practical Mobile Forensics, technical editor of Learning
files, hardware failure, losing your laptop or infecting your
Android Forensics and co-authors FOR585: Advanced
Smartphone Forensics and FOR518: Macintosh Forensics for
computer. At times like these, backups are often the only
SANS Institute. Follow Heather at Smarterforesnics.com
way you can rebuild your digital life. In this newsletter,
and on Twitter: @heathermahalik.
we explain what backups are, how to back up your data
and develop a strategy that’s right for you.
What to Back Up and When
Backups are copies of your information that are stored somewhere else. When you lose important data, you can
recover that data from your backups. The problem is that most people do not perform backups, which is a shame
because they can be simple and inexpensive. There are two approaches on deciding what to backup: (1) specific
data that is important to you; or (2) everything, including your entire operating system. The first approach streamlines
your backups and saves hard drive space; however, the second approach is simpler and more comprehensive. If you
are not sure what to back up, then we recommend backing up everything.
Your next decision will be deciding how frequently to back up your data. Common options include hourly, daily, weekly,
etc. For home use, personal backup programs, such as Apple’s Time Machine or Microsoft’s Windows Backup and
Restore, allow you to create an automatic “set it and forget it” backup schedule. These solutions silently back up
your data throughout the day while you are working on or away from your computer. Other solutions offer “continuous
protection,” in which new or altered files are immediately backed up as soon as they’re closed. At a minimum, we
recommend you back up daily. Ultimately, the question to ask yourself is, “How much information could I afford to lose
if I had to restore from backup?”

OUCH! | August 2015
Backup & Recovery
How to Back Up
There are two ways to back up your data: physical media
or Cloud-based storage. Physical media is any type of
hardware, such as DVDs, USB drives or external hard
drives. Whichever media you choose, never back up
your files to the device that holds the original files. The
problem with physical media is if your location has a
disaster (such as a fire or theft), then not only can you
lose your computer, but the backups, as well. As such,
you should have a plan to store copies of your backup
off-site in a secure location. If you do store them off-site,
be sure you label them with what was backed up and
Automated, reliable backups are often
when. For extra security, encrypt your backups.
your last line of defense in protecting
your data.
Cloud-based solutions are different. This is a service
where your files are stored somewhere on the Internet.
Depending on how much data you want to back up, this
may be a paid service. It works by installing a program on your computer that automatically backs up your files for you.
The advantage with this solution is that since your backups are in the Cloud, your backups are still safe if a disaster
happens to your house. In addition, you can access your backups, or often even just individual files, from almost
anywhere, even when traveling. The disadvantage is Cloud-based backups (and recovery) can be slower, especially if
you have a large amount of data. If you are not sure which backup option is the best for you (physical media or Cloud)
keep in mind you can always do both.
Finally, don’t forget your mobile devices. The advantage with mobile devices is that most of your data is already
stored in the Cloud, such as your email, calendar events or contacts. However, you may have information that is not
stored in the Cloud, such as your mobile app configurations, recent photos and system preferences. By backing up
your mobile device, not only do you preserve this information, but it is also easier to rebuild a device, such as when
you upgrade to a new one. An iPhone/iPad can back up automatically to Apple’s iCloud. Android or other mobile
devices depend on the manufacturer or service provider. In some cases, you may have to purchase mobile apps
designed specifically for backups.

OUCH! | August 2015
Backup & Recovery
Backing up your data is only half the battle; you have to be certain that you can recover it. Check every month that
your backups are working by recovering a file and validating the contents. In addition, be sure to make a full system
backup before a major upgrade (such as moving to a new computer or mobile device) or a major repair (like replacing
a hard drive) and verify that it is restorable.
Key Points
• Automate your backups as much as possible and check them regularly.
• When rebuilding an entire system from backup, be sure you reapply the latest security patches and updates
before using it again.
• Outdated or obsolete backups may become a liability and should be destroyed to prevent them from being
accessed by unauthorized users.
• If you are using a Cloud solution, research the policies and reputation of the provider and make sure they
meet your requirements. For example, do they encrypt your data when it is stored? Who has access to your
backups? Do they support strong authentication, such as two-step verification?
Protecting Your Personal Computer
Be sure to check out our free resources, including the blog and Video of the Month. This month, we’re covering
Protecting Your Personal Computer. View the video at http:/ www.securingthehuman.org/u/2uX.

http:/ www.securingthehuman.org/ouch/2015#april2015
Two-Step Verification:
http:/ www.securingthehuman.org/ouch/2013#august2013
Cloud Security:

http:/ www.securingthehuman.org/ouch/2014#september2014

http:/ www.securingthehuman.org/ouch/2014#august2014
Tip of the Day:

http:/ www.sans.org/tip_of_the_day.php
OUCH! is published by SANS Securing The Human and is distributed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.
You are free to share or distribute this newsletter as long as you do not sell or modify it. For past editions or translated versions, visit
www.securingthehuman.org/ouch. Editorial Board: Bill Wyman, Walt Scrivens, Phil Hoffman, Bob Rudis