25 August 2017

Acronis True Image 2018 has AI technology for ransomware detection

Beloussov introducing Acronis ahead of the launch of Acronis True Image 2018.
Beloussov introducing Acronis ahead of the launch of Acronis True Image 2018.

Acronis, a global player in hybrid cloud data protection for business and consumers, will be leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in all of its products. "AI is a very conceptually complicated field today but it doesn't require many people," Serguei Beloussov, co-founder and CEO of Acronis, shared. "We will invest in the use of AI across all products."

What's new in Acronis True Image 2018.
What's new in Acronis True Image 2018. Eight of the over 240 new enhancements are highlighted.

Beloussov was speaking at the launch of the flagship Acronis True Image 2018, an intelligent backup solution with an AI-based ransomware defense for both personal and home office data protection. While classic cybersecurity tools focus on discovering and preventing malware, Acronis True Image safeguards the data directly so that even if data loss should occur, the data is safe, Beloussov said.

Data loss through ransomware may have captured the public imagination in recent months but the truth is that data loss can occur in many ways. Acronis has found that people can lose data through accidental deletions, malware, damage to hardware, hardware failure, theft, or through simply forgetting their passwords. This makes a good backup solution paramount. Acronis True Image 2018 includes major updates to the software's backup and recovery capabilities, and is the first personal backup tool to incorporate AI-based technology designed to actively protect data against ransomware, Acronis said.

“As the first company to offer full image backup for consumers, Acronis pioneered intelligent backup for home use,” said Beloussov. “Acronis True Image 2018 continues that tradition as the first and only personal backup software that uses artificial intelligence to defend consumers against one of the fastest growing threats to their data.”

Acronis True Image is built on the three pillars of reliability, ease of use, and security, said Beloussov: users want recovery success every time, on every device; they want setups completed in a handful of clicks, with no interruptions or maintenance time; and they want their data to be protected. “We believe that everybody should be completely protected in what they do without making an effort,” he said.

By combining the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) based ransomware defense, called Acronis Active Protection, with a new generation of enhanced backup and recovery capabilities such as active disk cloning and automated WinPE boot media creation, Acronis is positioning Acronis True Image 2018 as a new standard of intelligent backup for individuals, families and small businesses.

In a survey of Acronis customers during July 2017, 95% of respondents said they choose and recommend Acronis True Image because the backups are so reliable. The 2018 release improves on those core backup and recovery capabilities even more, with enhancements such as:

Active disk cloning

Users can create an exact replica of an active Windows system without stopping and restarting using bootable media, making migration to a faster or larger disk even easier. More than 50% of Acronis customers use disk cloning to migrate from smaller drives to larger drives, from hard disk drives (HDD) to solid state drives (SSD), and from old drives to new ones.

Updated media builder

Acronis further found that over 50% of Acronis customers use bootable media to recover or migrate to the new hardware. Acronis True Image 2018 automatically creates boot media for a Windows preinstallation environment (WinPE), so users can quickly resolve driver configuration issues and recover their systems to the same or new hardware.

Continuous backup to the cloud

Users can update their backups as they work on files while securely storing an offsite version in the cloud. Updates are made every five minutes, on a low system footprint that has no visible impact on system performance, the company said. Acronis statistics show that 50% of Acronis customers use both local and cloud backup.

Support for slow connections

Incremental backups are now up to three times faster with new Changed-Block Tracker technology that tracks image changes in real time. This helps the 90% of Acronis customers who use incremental full image backup. Acronis shared that 30% of them have slow Internet connections.

Network-attached storage (NAS) support

More than a quarter of Acronis users (26%) have NAS at home, Acronis notes. With this feature, backing up a mobile device can begin automatically, as soon as the mobile device connects to the same Wi-Fi as the NAS. The process can be done with a QR code and a mobile app.

Instagram backup - available in Asia in September

Acronis True Image 2018 also addresses the needs of digital users by expanding its support for social media with automatic backups of Instagram accounts, including photos, comments and statistics, such as the number of likes, tags or comments a post gets. The company noted that Instagram backup is the feature that is most requested by users of Facebook backup.

Virtual drive conversion

Users can test the recoverability of the full image backups, or run their system in a Hyper-V virtual environment to test various applications without risking the primary system,. They can also move complete system image as a virtual drive to another computer.

Status updates

A new visual interface addresses the preferences of 83% of Acronis customers who reported that they want more information and insights into their backups. Graphically displaying backup activity and statistics, it allows users to manage their backups at a glance – including how much data they have stored, the types of files in storage, and the status of backups.

Ransomware protection through Acronis Active Protection 2.0

Expect to see more ransomware, so much so that it will be like catching the flu - it will be everywhere, and everyone will get it sometime, Beloussov said. "The number of ransomware attacks will only grow because it is a very, very good way to make money," he observed, predicting that ransomware protection will become mandatory for any backup software.

More than 60% percent of Acronis customers surveyed said they worry about ransomware, and Acronis has addressed their concerns across different stages of the ransomware cycle in the 2018 edition. "We believe that at the moment we have the best anti-ransomware software on the market – with Windows Defender and Acronis True Image installed on top of it you are completely safe from a ransomware attack," Beloussov said.

Ransomware damages are expected to top US$5 billion this year, and Acronis’ self-defense of backup files is Acronis True Image 2018’s way to ensure a user’s data remains untouched. While cybercriminals increasingly target backup files to keep users from restoring their system without paying the ransom, Acronis’ technology specifically defends backup files as well as the original data.

Acronis True Image 2018 not only makes recovery automatic, it takes the initial protection a step further by preventing ransomware from corrupting a user’s data in the first place. With new real-time monitoring, Acronis Active Protection 2.0 verifies all processes so approved activities are allowed to run, while potentially dangerous behaviour is detected and stopped. Should any files be encrypted during a ransomware attack, Acronis True Image 2018 automatically restores those files from backup.

Using machine learning models and trained on a dataset of over 100 million events, Acronis Active Protection recognises unusual patterns of file access in real-time, even if they are disguised as legitimate processes. These models are generated in Acronis’ dedicated Cloud AI infrastructure, and incorporated directly into Acronis Active Protection, allowing Acronis True Image 2018 to protect a system’s data independently, without the need for an Internet connection.

When Active Protection detects unusual activity, it checks the process using both heuristics analysis as well as those models of expected and unexpected behaviour. If the process is identified as potentially malicious, Acronis True Image 2018 alerts the user of the suspicious activity in one or two millseconds. Beloussov shared that the software has 99.95% accuracy in detecting ransomware and that the capability to predict potential software, hardware and system failures are in the works.

He explained: "We can deal with things that are not known to be ransomware. As more and more users use our software we will get better and better at the prevention of ransomware." Ransomware like Cerber, for instance, do not follow the typical profile of ransomware today, he said. The malware will work very slowly to encrypt file headers instead of the entire file, corrupting files at an undetectable rate versus ransomware which encrypts all of the files at one time.

A new Security Dashboard gives users complete visibility over Acronis Active Protection so they can track the number of processes that have been flagged as potentially dangerous, see which ones were blocked, and manage a whitelist of trusted applications.

Active Protection 2.0 is also available for the Mac, and has already identified the Patcher ransomware masquerading as Adobe Premiere CC as well as KeRanger, distributed as a popular BitTorrent app.

Acronis True Image has more than 1 million consumer customers in Asia, more than 100,000 business customers in Asia and 30,000-plus partners worldwide. Acronis Active Protection, developed in Singapore, had over 10,000 unique users globally with version 1.0 that released January 2017.


Review the new features in Acronis True Image 2018. Instagram backup is available in selected markets and will be available worldwide on September 4, 2017

Acronis True Image 2018 is available for purchase online and through major software resellers and retail stores worldwide. Three editions of Acronis True Image 2018 are available, all of which include Acronis Active Protection against ransomware and cover an unlimited number of mobile devices:

The Standard version is a perpetual license 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. Annual pricing starts at S$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 S$69.99 per year for one computer.

Premium is a one-year subscription that includes Blockchain-based data certification and electronic signature capabilities, as well as 1 TB of cloud storage. Pricing starts at S$99.99 per year for one computer.

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

Watch the Instavideo on disk cloning in Acronis True Image 2018