“Back up, Forest, back up!” or How to outrun ransomware criminals by choosing the right Mac maintenance & protection solution

Ah, ransomware: Over the past few years, millions of PCs from around the world have been locked or had their files encrypted as a result of devious malware.

What we call “ransomware” today is a form of malware that is typically installed on one’s computer by way of a social engineering attack. The user gets tricked into clicking on a link or opening an attachment — once the malware is on the machine, it begins to encrypt all the data it can find there. Once completed, there will be two files in the directory that indicate which contents are being held hostage, alongside with instructions on how to pay the ransom in order to decrypt those files.

Sounds strange, but ransomware has become a very successful criminal business model. Some infamous examples of the “godfathers” of ransomware are CryptoLocker, Locky, and TeslaCrypt. One such outfit, CryptoWall, has generated over $320 million in revenues to date.

The first ransomware virus, AIDS Trojan (aka PC Cyborg), was created in 1989 by biologist Joseph L. Popp. The AIDS Trojan was first-generation ransomware that used simple symmetric cryptography, and tools were soon available to decrypt those filenames. However, the AIDS Trojan set the scene for what was to come.

According to Kaspersky Security Bulletin, in 2015 there were 1,966,324 registered notifications for attempted malware infections aiming to steal money via online access to bank accounts.  Various ransomware programs were detected on 753,684 computers of unique users; more than 179,000 computers were targeted by encryption ransomware.

In April 2016, CNN Money reported new estimates from the FBI which revealed the costs from so-called ransomware have reached an all-time high. Cyber-criminals collected $209 million in the first three months of 2016 by extorting businesses and institutions to unlock computer servers.

Unfortunately, there’s no end in sight. How can one protect himself and his valuable information from being encrypted into unreadable mess?

If I would think how to improve the usability and protect against crypto malware threats, I would suggest improving incremental backup strategies, which would supervise certain data sources, back them up automatically at any change, and allow them to be restored at any date in the time history. This way, I could easily revert back to before malware encrypted my files.”

The above suggestion was made via email from a Paragon Software customer, and indeed backup is a very efficient way to protect data. According to Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary (developed by Paragon in conjunction with Oxford University Press), “backup is a copy of a file, etc. that can be used if the original is lost or damaged.”

One of the most popular backup tools is Time Machine – the built-in solution for Mac, introduced with OS X Leopard. Time Machine works at the file level, which is inefficient when dealing with an active operating system and running applications. Files should be unlocked or closed for proper backup, which is not an option with most system files and those used by currently running apps.

Time Machine waits until user applications are closed and locked files become available to process, ignoring system files completely. That’s why OS X has a two-step restore procedure: The user first reinstalls the operating system before retrieving application and user files from the backup image.

There’s a better backup approach based on system snapshots, which considerably reduces backup and recovery times. For a better understanding of this method, let’s visualize the entire process.

You want to back up a particular state of your Mac. However, you know that some files are being constantly changed by the system, and some might be changed by you — such as working with them during the backup procedure. It means that part of your system will be backed up at one point of time and the rest some minutes later. This causes inconsistencies with file properties, and you won’t be able to restore references and links between such files.

Snapshot is like taking a photo of your filesystem, excluding changes made after that point. They will still be present on your hard drives and will be included with the future backups, but not the current one. That’s exactly why this is the only backup method that can be used to protect an active operating system. Additionally, although Time Machine waits until running applications are closed and locked files become available, the backup operation obviously takes more time than if it’s done with a snapshot-based utility.

To illustrate the difference, we performed an internal lab test, comparing the brand new Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac against Time Machine and another popular file-level backup solution. Have a look at the results:

Paragon Hard Disk Manager, backup, fastest

Paragon HDM for Mac is designed to create instant copies of a disk (or several disks) at a specific point in time. This technology takes consistent snapshots of both inactive and in-use partitions. Unlike Time Machine, HDM provides snapshot-based backup and operates at the sector level, achieving superior performance and speed.

As you can see from the graph above, it takes Hard Disk Manager far less time to back up 9.15 Gb of information than Time Machine or a similar solution. HDM for Mac comes with improved snapshot technology, enabling consistent image backups even as the data is being modified at that moment.

HDM for Mac is not just for backup — it’s a powerful application that covers all aspects of the computer’s life cycle, including drive partitioning, file system optimization and repair functions, data backup capabilities, and irreversible data wiping. It also supports all file systems of OS X, Windows, and Linux.

Get it now! Seriously, it’s that good.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11
    El Capitan support;
  • Sector-level backup for best perfomance and backup/recovery speed;
  • Move, resize, undelete partitions and modify their properties;
    • Migrate Windows OS from one Mac computer to another;
      • Format volumes in any of the common file systems (NTFS, HFS+, ExtFS, FAT 16/FAT 32 and exFAT);
      • And much more!

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

Keep your friends close and your hard drives closer: Safely managing disks on your Mac

Keeping personal information truly confidential is something of a challenge in the modern world. Our every move is being recorded, with eyes watching from each corner. It may sound paranoid, but this is the new reality. With our smartphones, social media, and messaging apps, almost everyone is now an open book.

One of the safest ways to keep your information secure is to store it in on your Mac’s solid-state drive (SSD) without access to an internet connection — but that’s nearly impossible these days, right?  For most of us, it’s generally good enough just to be careful when browsing the web and avoid clicking any suspicious links.

But let’s take a look at the worst-case scenario: What if your information is stolen or taken away from you by an employer, roommate, or even the government? What if you decide to sell or donate your Mac? It ultimately doesn’t matter who got access to it — it’s imperative that you destroy personal data before the bad guys grab it.

So how can you make sure your sensitive data doesn’t fall into wrong hands along with your hard disks (HDD) or other media? Physically shredding old disks into tiny pieces is impractical, even if it may ultimately be the safest data method of destruction.

For years, OS X has allowed users to erase data from disks using native tools included with Apple’s Disk Utility. When you select a volume in Disk Utility and click the Erase tab, you can select Security Options and choose how many times the media will be written over. But this procedure is very time-consuming, and you can’t wipe free space on the disk with this method.

Unlike traditional hard drives, it’s no trivial matter to recover data stored on SSDs, due to the way the hardware optimizes storage to reduce wear and tear. But this is by no means foolproof, since there are readily available tools capable of easily reconstructing SSDs that have been erased.

One simple way to protect data is to encrypt it from the very beginning on a new SSD or HDD using FileVault 2. This is a full-disk encryption option that first appeared in OS X Lion 10.7, which keeps your startup volume encrypted at all times. Whenever you boot your Mac and log in to the account via FileVault 2, OS X encrypts everything written to the disk and decrypts everything that being read.

Erasing a FileVault-encrypted volume discards the decryption key, turning your disk into an unreadable mess. Without the key, the erased data is as good as gone. The only problem with this solution is that should you forget your account credentials or lose the recovery key, your data will be permanently lost.

So we are left with the only suitable option: Wiping the drive. When you wipe a HDD or SDD, you erase everything on the disk, including data you previously deleted that might still exist.

When you format a hard drive or delete a partition, you usually delete only the file system, making data invisible but not entirely erased. You need to take an extra step to clean the hard drive completely using specialized data wiping tools. This software works by writing over every divisible part of the drive, used or otherwise.

One of the best tools on the market for a logical-level wiping of your hard drive is Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac. It supports all Intel-based Macs, providing tools to quickly and efficiently sanitize hard disks to protect valuable information.

You can irreversibly destroy all data on your disk in compliance with the major national government and military data standards. For only $39.95, you receive a powerful tool to manage data on your hard disks, and keep valuable information completely under your total control.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11
    El Capitan support;
  • Core Storage backup and restore;
  • Snapshot-driven backup;

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

 

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac has been finally released!

We decided to take the next step in our development and present you with our most expected product – Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac! Most of you are already familiar with Hard Disk Manager for Windows or even have it installed on your PC. Now, we release Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac!

We developed a product that includes all the tools the OS X user needs. Everything from what’s OS X is missing plus comprehensive functionality to easily manage your OS X systems, so once you start using HDM for Mac, you wouldn’t have to run across the web searching for additional programs to successfully manage your Mac. HDM for Mac covers it all!

Enjoy this new powerful Mac solution!

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11
    El Capitan support;
  • Sector-level backup for best perfomance and backup/recovery speed;
  • Move, resize, undelete partitions and modify their properties;
    • Migrate Windows OS from one Mac computer to another;
      • Format volumes in any of the common file systems (NTFS, HFS+, ExtFS, FAT 16/FAT 32 and exFAT);
      • And much more!

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

We would like to thank our beta-testers and everyone who supported the project – with your help we were able to gather the most valuable feedback and develop a great new product!

Why do you need an extra partition on your Mac and how to create it

Today we’re going to talk about partitions. What is it anyway?

A partition is a specific area of a hard drive, which has a beginning and an ending point, and the space between those points equals the total amount of size the partition defines.

Sometimes people confuse a partition with a volume, but there is a big difference between the two.
A volume is a file system on a partition your Mac or PC can recognize. Common types of volumes include DVDs, hard drives, and partitions or sections of hard drives.

Practically any type of storage you use for your Mac (SSDs, hard drives, USB flash drives, etc.) can be divided into partitions. Each partition can use one of four formats compatible with OS X: HFS/HFS+ (simple and encrypted), ExFAT and FAT.

There are good reasons to split your device into multiple partitions. For example, you want to run multiple versions of OS X on your Mac; organize your data PC-style; manage your backups efficiently or run Windows on your Mac. Especially if you are a big fan of OS X and install all OS X beta-versions, it is strongly recommended by Apple to install all beta versions on a separate partitions, as they can truly ruin your Mac!

To partition a drive, we can use the Disk Utility – a built-in Mac program to manage your hard drives.

NB: Your data will be erased during the procedure, so be sure to back up the information first.

  • Step 1: Open the Disk Utility by searching for it via Spotlight or finding it in Applications > Utilities
  • Step 2: Select the storage device you want to partition from the left pane. The selected drive will appear in the right pane together with its details, such as location, the way it’s connected, and the partition map in use
  • Step 3: Select the drive and then click the Partition button in the Disk Utility’s Toolbar. You will see a drop-down panel displaying a pie chart of how the drive is currently divided
  • Step 4: To add a partition, click the plus (+) button right below the pie chart
  • Step 5: Enter a name for the volume in the Partition field to be displayed on your Mac’s desktop. Press Apply

You can also adjust the volume size by either entering its value in the text box, or by shifting a pie slice anchor in the required direction.

However, some errors might occur in the process, causing you to end up with an unallocated space on your disk unseen in the Disk Utility. An unallocated space is like a void on your hard drive you can’t detect and use with Mac’s inbuilt apps. The only way to manage such space is to use the Terminal, but it is rather complicated and may lead to corruption of files and partitions.

For such cases we have a card up our sleeve: The new Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac Preview helps you to easily manage this unallocated space and use it to create partitions, add the unallocated space to the existing partitions, resize free space between Mac OS and Bootcamp partitions and much more.

With HDM for Mac Preview you can resize your partitions in 3 clicks.

Click 1: Select the storage device you want to partition. Choose Move/Resize partition

HDM for mac Preview

Click 2: Shift the anchor to select the size you need. Press OK

Resize partition

Click 3: Press Apply Operations at the top right of the menu

Press Apply

As you can see from the screenshot below, Disk Utility won’t show full information about an unallocated space on your storage device:

Unnalocated space

With HDM for Mac Preview you can additionally format all partitions to HFS+, NTFS, FAT32, ExtFS 2,3,4, exFAT:

FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, HFS+

Find these tips useful? Start using your Mac as a pro right now!

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11
    El Capitan support;
  • Core Storage backup and restore;
  • Snapshot-driven backup;

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

An extremely simple trick to keep your Mac or PC from unauthorized access

We frequently talk about recent security threats, including the new Trojan horse called “Locky” that encrypts your information forever, making it impossible to read.
Unfortunately, Locky is not the only virus that can cause problems for your operating system. There are many other types of viruses which can silently infiltrate a computer without you even noticing it. One of the most common and easiest ways of accessing your system is through an external flash or a hard drive.

There are a number of software solutions to help prevent such infection, as well as a radical and 100 percent secure hardware method. You can protect your USB ports from an unauthorized access for a short period of time simply by disabling the ports.

If you are using Windows…

All that you need is Notepad and an administrator-level account.

First, create a new document, then copy and paste the following text:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\USBSTOR]
”Start”=dword:00000004
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\USBSTOR\Enum]
”Count”=dword:00000000
”NextInstance”=dword:00000000

Save the file in the desired location and name it usboff.reg. Be sure to save it with the .reg extension and not .txt, or this trick will not work.

Now repeat the process, changing only two parts: in the line ”Start”=dword:00000004 change the 4 to a 3 , and then save a new file named usbon.reg.

Done!

Now when you want to disable the USB port, simply open the usboff.reg file and confirm the change. This will block any external drive plugged into your PC from working. As you might have guessed, opening and confirming the usbon.reg file will do just the opposite, once again enabling the USB port.
Assuming you are the only one with administrator-level access to the computer in question, no one will be able to change these files except you.

Now for the Mac

This trick is slightly more complicated than on Windows.
OS X 10.11 El Capitan brought with it an additional level of security for your Mac: System Integrity Protection (SIP), which prevents system-related files from modification. Even if you have an administrator-level account, you won’t be able to make changes to these files.

Apple’s new protection policy may have good intentions, but it clearly doesn’t help with our mission to disable USB.

NB! If you are using a USB keyboard or mouse, please don’t attempt this trick! You won’t be able to use these input devices, requiring an alternate method such as Bluetooth.

You can disable SIP by booting into recovery mode. Restart your Mac and hold Command+R as it boots.

From the menu, select Utilities > Terminal. In the Terminal window, type csrutil disable, press Enter, then restart your Mac.

To reenable SIP, launch Terminal while in Recovery mode, but this time type csrutil enable, then press Enter and restart.

But there’s an easier way – download and install the new Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac®, which provides, on top of other useful functions, one-click SIP disable feature.

When your SIP is disabled, do the following: open Finder and select Go -> Go to Folder from the menu. Copy and paste the /System/Library/Extensions path into the field and look for two files located there:

IOUSBMassStorageClass.kext
IOFireWireSerialBusProtocolTransport.KEXT

Move these files to the Desktop or other location, but be sure to keep them somewhere safe — you’ll need them to enable your USB ports again!

These small tricks can help you protect your information from being stolen or damaged. If you are interested in more advanced and useful features to protect your Mac, try our new Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac, a powerful disk management utility for OS X, featuring:

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11 El Capitan support;
  • Core Storage backup and restore;
  • Snapshot-driven backup;

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

Unbeatable Black Friday deal from Paragon Software

Make use of 20YEARS/20MINUTES/$20 deal!

Still celebrating “20 years Paragon” we are happy to announce Black Friday deal with 80% off on the most popular essential, all-in-one data management solution for Windows PC users working in physical or virtual environments, Paragon Hard Disk Manager 15 Professional.
The software tool will be available at only 20$ starting November 28, 2014, at 8:00 p.m. until November 28 th, 2014, until 8:20 p.m. EST, with no coupon code required.

Updated recently with the newest features, Paragon Hard Disk Manager 15 Professional offers everything you need for system and hard disk management. The most advanced data safety and disaster recovery software with powerful partition features, it comes with a full spectrum of virtual and physical migration operations, agentless MS Hyper-V backup, secure data wiping (even on SSDs) and includes a free update for Windows 10 support.

Click to access the promotion! Don’t be late — you will have only 20 minutes to make a purchase!

Good luck to everyone this Friday!

Paragon Software releases cost-effective data protection bundle for Windows Server essential customers

Backup and Disaster Recovery Leader Addresses SMBs’ Data Protection and Disk Optimization Needs with a Comprehensive Package for Windows 2012 Server Essentials Licenses

Paragon Server Essentials Bundle for Windows gives small to midsize business (SMB) customers purchasing a Microsoft Windows 2012 Server Essentials license a cost-effective yet comprehensive solution for protecting the data within their organization.

Now available, the bundle provides Paragon’s SMB clients with everything they need to implement a robust, simple and effective data protection strategy with a solution that’s currently being used in enterprise environments. The Paragon Server Essentials Bundle for Windows includes award-winning Hard Disk Manager 15 (HDM) server backup and disaster recovery software as well as 25 Windows-based workstation licenses configured with XP, Windows 8 or another operating system (OS).  Paragon’s Hard Disk Manager also features a valuable set of disk optimization utilities including advanced partitioning, secure disk wiping, OS migrations as well as imaging and system deployment functionality at no additional charge.

Read the full story

Resellers interested in more information on Paragon’s Pure Channel program, please visit http://paragon-downloads.com/partners/paragon-pure-channel-program or call 888.347.5462.

Paragon Software releases New Hard Disk Manager 15 Suite and Pro editions

New features include embedded Recovery Media Builder 3.0, file-level backup and restore for virtual containers, agentless protection of Hyper-V guest machines. Windows 10 users get a free update with the release of the new platform.

We’re happy to announce the release of Paragon Hard Disk Manager (HDM) 15 Suite and Professional – complete, all-in-one data management solutions for Windows PC users working in physical or virtual environments. The new HDM 15 lets users create backups directly in the form of virtual disks in any of the supported formats (pVHD, VMDK, VHD, VHDX). The Professional edition now delivers high-performance file exclusion filters for efficient backup and recovery operations, the capability of editing virtual hard disks, Hyper-V guest system backup, powerful scripting, and expanded support for virtual machines. Both editions allow the creation of bootable recovery media. HDM 15 Suite unites more than 20 advanced data management technologies, including partitioning, boot correction, file and image backup, disk copying, secure data wiping (even on SSDs), and flexible recovery options. The Professional version is packed with even more features. HDM 15 Suite and Professional users get an update to Windows 10 support for free!

New functions in HDM 15 Suite:

  • Embedded Recovery Media Builder 3.0 makes it extremely easy and flexible to create your own personal recovery environment
  • File-level backup/restore for virtual containers
  • Wipe SSDs user-friendly and permanently
  • Revised User Interface for easier navigation


New functions in HDM 15 Professional include all of the above, plus:

  • Agentless protection of Hyper-V guest machines
  • P2V-Restore from virtual containers

Read the official announcement

Hard Disk Manager 15 Preview is available for a free 90-day evaluation!

A complete data management tool for physical and virtual storage with maximum flexibility for SMBs and enterprises

Paragon Software released a free 90-day trial of Paragon Hard Disk Manager 15 Preview, a complete data management solution with flexible physical and virtual backup formats for businesses. HDM 15 supports the right backup formats for a variety of tasks including archiving or virtualization. Unlike traditional backup methods, HDM 15 supports a wide range of virtual disk formats, making it ideal for use with virtual machines. The Connect VD (Virtual Drive) feature allows IT administrators to set the partitioning and editing of virtual data media in just the same way they would with regular physical hard disks. VD backup features now provide the full set of backup tools, including file complement, incremental backup and others.

New major features include:


·         Virtual container replaces the previous backup archive

·         Recovery Media Builder 3.0

·         Easy virtualization

·         MS Hyper-V backup

·         Incremental, differential and file-based backups to virtual containers

A free 90-day evaluation of  Paragon Hard Disk Manager 15 Preview is available to download. The commercial version of Paragon Hard Disk Manager 15 is scheduled for release in fall 2014 and will offer a free 30-day evaluation period.

Read the official announcement

New Paragon Hard Disk Manager 14 Hyper-V Preview is available to SMBs for free download!

Agentless backup for Hyper-V clients – fast, free, absolutely unique! Available for FREE download until June 30th, 2014

Paragon Hard Disk Manager 14 Hyper-V Preview is designed to protect virtual machines hosted by Microsoft Hyper-V. Unlike traditional backup tools designed to work with physical machines, it can operate at the virtualization layer, employing MS VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) to agentlessly backup/restore any guest machine of Hyper-V. Thus our solution doesn’t need an agent on a target virtual machine to create its point-in-time copy including its configuration, operating system, apps, etc. This approach significantly enhances the backup performance, while minimizing the load on target machines and the hypervisor during the process. Besides, there’s no need to provide credentials for every guest to do backups.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager 14 Hyper-V Preview perfectly matches the needs of IT administrators of small and medium-size businesses seeking a reliable tool to handle the full IT management cycle, including protection of virtual machines hosted by Microsoft Hyper-V.

– Supports Windows 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1

– Installation takes only 5 minutes on Hyper-V host

– Supports SMB 3.0 hosted virtual machines

– Restore to a new location

– Wide choice of backup formats – VHDX, VHD, pVHD or VMDK

– Incremental Hyper-V backup coming soon!

Paragon Hard Disk Manager 14 Hyper-V is a preview of a full-fledged commercial product and it is available to all SMBs for free download till June 30th, 2014