Saturday, 26 August 2017 23:33

Acronis True Image 2018 for Mac – first Mac back-up with ransomware protection

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Although Macs and Mac users are much less prone to malware, the bad guys have taken notice of the Mac’s popularity, and are targeting the platform with more malware in the hope of cracking the weakest link.

When it comes to Mac security, humans are often the weakest link.

With Macs requiring you to type in your password before a new app you’ve downloaded is installed, and with macOS employing its “GateKeeper” technology to stop unidentified downloads and developers from being run willy-nilly, it is still harder for the average Mac to get infected with anything, compared with the everyday PC that seems, at least in the hands of some users, to be a malware magnet.

Unfortunately, malware writers are targeting Mac users with malware that seems innocent, like a Flash update, or a media player update, or some other kind of update that appears to be harmlessly asking you for your username and password, which then lets it install on your computer and create whatever havoc its programmers intended – which could even include encrypting your Mac’s files in a ransomware attack.

Now, while the actual threat of this is still very, very low, the reality is at the same time that malware writer attention in the Mac space has never been greater, especially with an influx of new users, many of whom are Windows converts like I was back in 2011, switching over to the Mac platform, and for some at least, being newbie “weakest links” that malware guys and gals are sadly only too happy to try taking advantage of.

Once upon a time, I ran no protective software on my Mac – I didn’t even have the firewall turned on, and there are surely and likely still people to this day running their Macs blissfully like that right now, and most likely not having a trouble in the world.

But to be as safe as possible these days, not only do I run Norton Security for Mac and Malwarebytes Premium for Mac, but I run Acronis True Image for Mac, too, which I’ve now very gladly upgraded to the new 2018 version.

What this version does is not only continue being a “proven backup alternative for Mac users seeking the cloud-based features missing from Time Machine,” as Acronis cleverly states, but it is now also “the first personal backup software to include technology that actively defends data against ransomware.”

Acronis explains that “the inclusion of anti-ransomware protection in Acronis True Image 2018 arrives at a critical time for Mac users. While macOS machines have historically been safe from malware, cybercriminals are expanding their reach – attacks against Macs increased 744% during 2016 and several serious incidents have occurred throughout 2017.”

Seguei Beloussov, the multi-talented, multilingual, multi-company-founding chief executive of Acronis, said: “Reliable back-ups are critical for anyone looking to recover their system, especially after something like a ransomware attack. As the leader in back-up software, we recognised that the future of data protection will require us to do more. We’re proud to offer the first and only personal back-up software that protects consumer data against this growing threat.”

Now, as you’d expect if you’re using one of the new MacBook Pro models with the snazzy Touch Bar, the new Acronis True Image 2018 takes advantage of it with Touch Bar integration. By using the useful little multi-touch Touch Bar display, you can navigate between tabs, create and start new back-ups, monitor data transfer speeds, and track the progress of backups.

Of course, the new features and benefits go far deeper than that.

The short version is that there are enhanced back-up and recovery capabilities, an updated macOS-style interface, the aforementioned Touch Bar integration, but also now Acronis’ Active Protection platform which forms the cornerstone of the company’s cutting-edge ransomware defence, this setting a bold a new standard for protecting the data of Mac users, from individuals and families to home offices and small businesses.

Here’s more detail on the new enhancements:

Faster recovery from the cloud:
New optimisations for Wide Area Networks (WAN) means Mac users can now recover full systems and individual files from Acronis Cloud up to four-times faster.

Live Update:
Ensures you have the most up-to-date version of Acronis True Image 2018 for Mac by detecting and delivering updates without needing a separate DMG download. You can automatically download and install updates as soon as they are released.

Instagram back-up:
Acronis True Image 2018 for Mac expands support for social media with automatic backups of Instagram accounts. Photos, comments and statistics – such as the number of likes, tags or comments a post gets – are now safe from accidental deletion or hackers.

Mobile back-up to NAS devices:
Building on the ability to automatically back up mobile devices to a Mac via Wi-Fi, Acronis True Image 2018 now lets users back up to network-attached storage (NAS). Acronis says more than 25% of its True Image customers use a NAS device at home.

Easy control
Acronis says True Image 2018 is “specifically designed to give Mac users a better experience and greater control over their backups.”
The updated macOS-style interface is visually enhanced to show detailed information about back-up activity and statistics — including a coluor-coded display of how much data you have stored, the types of files in storage, and the status of backups — so you can manage your back-ups at a glance.

Secure data protection
The ability to restore a system or individual files is critical following a ransomware attack. Acronis proudly boasts that not only does True Image 2018 for Mac “make recovery easy, it takes the initial protection a step further by preventing ransomware from corrupting a user’s data in the first place".

Acronis active protection
Designed to recognie patterns of file access. When it detects unusual behaviour, it alerts the user of the suspicious activity. With real-time monitoring, it verifies all processes so approved activities are allowed to run, while potentially dangerous behaviour is stopped. If any files are encrypted during a ransomware attack, they can be quickly recovered from the backup using Acronis True Image 2018.

Acronis states that “more than 60% of its customers surveyed said they worry about ransomware". We’re told that the “new Security Dashboard gives users complete visibility over Acronis Active Protection so you can be reassured that their data is protected. It lets them track the number of processes that have been flagged as potentially dangerous, see which ones were blocked, and manage a whitelist of trusted applications".

So, what of pricing and availability for this new Mac version?

There are three editions of Acronis True Image 2018 available to accommodate customer use and preferences. The company says “all versions include Acronis Active Protection against ransomware and cover an unlimited number of mobile devices.”

  • Standard is a perpetual licence that is offered without any cloud storage or access to cloud-based features for customers who prefer to store their data on local drives only. Pricing starts at A$69.99 for one computer.
  • Advanced is a one-year subscription that includes 250 GB of cloud storage and access to all cloud-based features. Pricing starts at A$69.99 per year for one computer.
  • Premium is a one-year subscription that includes exclusive blockchain-based data certification and electronic signature capabilities, as well as 1 TB of cloud storage. Pricing starts at A$139.99 per year for one computer.

Advanced and Premium subscribers can purchase additional cloud storage within the application. Advanced Licences can upgrade to a maximum of 500GB. If more storage is needed, Advanced users can upgrade to a premium licence, which offers cloud storage of up to 5TB.

Instagram back-up has launched in limited markets but will be available worldwide on 4 September.

Acronis True Image 2018 is available for purchase at major software resellers and retail stores worldwide, as well as at Acronis.com. If you have more than five PCs or Macs in your business, Acronis Backup 12.5 is claimed to scale “to protect thousands of computers and provides convenient tools for group management of environments of any complexity".

Details here.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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