6 Steps to Using Backup for Ransomware Recovery

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6 Steps to Using Backup for Ransomware Recovery

Did you think ransomware had gone away? Think again.

Did you think ransomware had gone away? Think again.

Ransomware is very much alive and well, and as always, attackers have new tricks up their sleeves. Consider the following statistics from Hornetsecurity’s 2023 Ransomware Survey:

  • Concern Levels: Almost 60% of businesses are ‘very’ to ‘extremely’ concerned about ransomware attacks, emphasizing the need for robust defenses​.
  • Protection Priority: A compelling 93.2% rank ransomware protection as a critical IT priority, yet 12.2% still lack a disaster recovery plan, often due to limited resources or lack of management prioritization​.
  • Incidence and Ransom Payments: The incidence of attacks has slightly decreased to 19.7% in 2023, with fewer companies (6.9%) reporting ransom payments, indicating an improvement in preventive measures or resistance to paying ransoms​.
  • Training and Awareness: There’s been an increase in end-user training, with 81% of organizations conducting it in 2023, up from 71.2% in 2021. Continuous education is crucial as threats evolve and become more sophisticated​.
  • Backup Security Measures: Organizations predominantly use immutable storage (40.6%), tight control of permissions (38.3%), and air-gapped storage (27.8%) to protect backups from ransomware. Confidence in data backup safety is high among those with recovery plans, though the industry continues to adapt to ransomware’s unpredictability​.

Ransomware’s impact is widespread and persistent, affecting endpoints, servers, and significant volumes of data across various platforms. Given the high concern levels and evolving nature of these threats, readiness for a potential attack is imperative. While a range of mitigation techniques exists, robust backup and restore operations remain the cornerstone of ransomware defense, as reflected in the prioritization of protection measures and the growing confidence in backup solutions among organizations.

So, how do you plan a ransomware recovery strategy?

Depending on the size of your customer’s organization, the level of planning necessary for ransomware recovery may be pretty much impossible to determine. Instead, you need to look at this from the business perspective and work backward. In addition to the usual backup targeting exercise, you’ll want to plan with your customers and their unique needs. Below are five steps to take to leverage backups properly as part of a ransomware response effort.

  1. Understand Your Risk Profile and Prepare Your Defenses – Before diving into recovery, it’s essential to assess the risk ransomware poses to your organization. This involves understanding your data’s value, identifying critical assets, and recognizing potential vulnerabilities. Implementing strong defenses such as regular software updates, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems is crucial. However, assume that these measures might fail and plan accordingly. Understanding your risk profile helps tailor your recovery strategy to be as efficient and effective as possible.
  2. Establish and Maintain Robust Backup Solutions – Regular and secure backups are non-negotiable and considered the cornerstone of any ransomware recovery strategy. Employ a 3-2-1 backup strategy—keeping three total copies of your data, two of which are local but on different devices and one offsite. Consider the use of immutable storage, air-gapped backups, and regular testing of backup integrity. Ensure that backups are comprehensive and conducted frequently to minimize data loss.
  3. Develop a Comprehensive Incident Response Plan – A well-structured incident response plan is vital. This plan should detail the immediate steps to take once an attack is detected, including isolating affected systems, determining the scope of the impact, and notifying relevant stakeholders. It should also outline the roles and responsibilities of the response team, ensuring a swift and coordinated effort to limit damage and initiate recovery procedures.
  4. Invest in Training and Awareness Programs – Human error is often the weakest link in cybersecurity. Regular training and awareness campaigns can significantly reduce the risk of ransomware infection. Educate employees about the dangers of phishing attacks, the importance of strong passwords, and the correct procedures to follow if they suspect a breach. Simulated ransomware attacks can also be a practical tool in preparing your team for the real thing.
  5. Regularly Test and Update Your Recovery Plan – A recovery plan is only as good as its last test. Regularly scheduled drills to simulate ransomware scenarios help identify gaps in your plan and ensure that all team members know their roles. After each test, update the recovery plan to reflect new insights, evolving threats, and changes in the organization’s structure or technology. 
  6. Stay Informed and Collaborate – The threat landscape is continually changing, with new ransomware strains and tactics emerging regularly. Stay informed about the latest ransomware trends and mitigation strategies. Participate in industry forums, collaborate with peers, and consider sharing information about threats and defenses. This collective knowledge can be invaluable in staying one step ahead of attackers.

By following these six steps, organizations can fortify their defenses against the ever-present threat of ransomware. While it’s impossible to eliminate the risk entirely, a well-planned and executed ransomware recovery strategy can significantly mitigate the impact of an attack, ensuring that your organization can recover with resilience and speed. The key is preparation, education, and continuous improvement. With these principles in mind, you can navigate the treacherous waters of cyber threats and safeguard your organization’s future.


The concept of ransomware recovery isn’t really that difficult; it’s more about proactively having an understanding of what’s important to your customer, following industry best practices, and putting a plan in place to recover, just like in any other disaster scenario. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Are you using similar steps in your ransomware recovery strategy? Has it worked well for you?

Thanks for reading!

Altaro O365 Backup for MSPs
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