advice you can use — short and to the point — every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

Thursday, April 28th, 2016 technology  research  practice

  • Practice

♫ Love was out to get me
That’s the way it seemed.
Disappointment haunted all my dreams…♫

Music and lyrics by Neil Diamond and recorded by The Monkees.

Hal

 

I have a confession to make. While I love technology, I am not quite sure the feelings are mutual. You see, technology has come to disappoint me so many times that I am questioning its intentions. In fact it causes me concern when thinking of the rise of artificial intelligence. You see, if technology at its current level of development can be so confounding, what lies in store when technology reaches some level of self-awareness?  It could be that we would move from our present epoch of relatively benign technology and cross over to the world of self-aware machines, we move into the state of “Artificial Malevolence”.

Now I am aware that I am not the first to think of these things. In fact, being named Dave, the words of Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey haunt me.  Hal was supposed to be ‘foolproof and incapable of error.’ However, when asked to take action that would save Dave’s life, he states, devoid of emotion: “I’m sorry Dave – I can’t do that…

In fact,Wikipedia states that:

“Siri”, Apple’s natural language voice control system for the iPhone 4S, features a reference to the film: it responds “I’m sorry I can’t do that” when asked to “open the pod bay doors”

Well what happens when you ask your favourite technology to open a file and (since it mostly hasn’t – yet – reached the point of communicating by voice), simply displays text stating: “file not found” or words to that effect.  ARGH!!  Renting of garments, gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair!

What is a mere mortal to do?  Well my standard remedy when dealing with malevolent technology is to have a data backup.  In fact, not just one, but rather..three.

If you put all your eggs in one electronic basket there is a consequential rule that you should watch that basket very, very carefully. Accordingly, making copies of your electronic data and ensuring that this data is stored in at least two locations, one on a hardened hard drive (such as the ioSafe line of hard drives that are designed to withstand fire, flood, temperatures, immersion etc. for extended periods of time) and the second being a cloud storage system is not only prudent but well advised.  In fact I am now advising that you have a third backup. The third is a cloud-based backup that is not connected 24/7 to your network.

Many firms that the writer has spoken to have been hit with various variants of ransomware malware. These malevolent applications encrypt everything they can find on your network and demands a ransom to be paid – otherwise they disappear taking the decryption algorithm with it…leaving your data …useless.

In once case, fortunately, the firm’s cloud backup – which only backed up on a schedule and was not continually connected to the network – was left untouched by the malware and they were able restore their data without paying the ransom. This is perhaps one of the best arguments for backing your data up into a secure cloud backup that can remain isolated from a malware attack such as the ransomware nasties.

It is important that you have a multiple layer redundant backup system. Don’t depend on a sole backup system…if that backup fails … you are left totally vulnerable. It is important to test your backup system and ensure that it is operating properly so that you can restore your data as needed. I have seen situations where the sole backup system seemed to be functioning fine until the time came when it was needed – and then the realization hit that the backup was corrupted and useless. In one such case what had been backed up to Dropbox was recovered … all other data was lost.

The benefit of having a local hardened hard drive backup is that you can restore your data quickly in the event of a loss. Cloud backups…while wonderful for preserving your data in a safe location…will take considerable time to restore onto your network since you are limited by your download speeds. However, if your system is hit with a system-wide problem, such as ransomwear malware, a flood, fire or other disaster or a failure of your primary backup, you will be thanking your lucky stars for having a complete cloud backup no matter how long it takes to do the restore.

Believe me, I have had to restore data from the cloud after a system-wide failure (did I mention that technology seems to hate me?). A fast Internet connection can never be fast enough when time is money. But ultimately, having a cloud backup made the difference between sheer inconvenience and absolute disaster.

After all when technology is out to get you, you don’t want disappointment to haunt all your dreams.