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Currently we are using ReadyNAS by NETGEAR to hold all our images from all our machines. My question is can viruses expand from the machines and infect the NAS drive and the backups?

We are using AOMEI Backupper.

EDIT: Basically, I want to keep my clean backups clean. I keep Daily, Weekly, Monthly achievable backups, my worry is a virus might attempt or try to infect these backups making using them worthless.

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3 Answers

A backup is a backup, a file is a file. If a file is infected with a virus, and you backup it, then the backupped file contains the virus, and when you restore it the virus is still there. From the point of view of the backup system, a virus is just a bunch of bytes.

This is why recovery after a virus infection is hard: you have to restore a backup which predates the infection.

On the other hand, while the backup will gleefully save and restore viruses, the NAS itself (which is, internally, a computer with its own operating system) should be safe from such viruses, because it will not try to execute the files it copies, and in any case probably uses a distinct architecture (ARM, Sparc... but not x86).

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Yes, if it is in the file system - or intelligent enough to directly subvert your backup application. Perhaps even the NAS if the NAS firmware is not on ROM and susceptible to buffer overflows and the like (most NAS are glorified RAID controllers and thus ROM firmware).

Two things you can do to reduce the viruses and trojans contaminating your backups (both add cost):

  1. Use a "haircomb" backup. Where one in each 7 daily backup is preserved as the weekly backup, one in each 4 weekly backups becomes the monthly backup and so forth. Thus you have a fairly well-defined set of backups reaching back a distance. This costs more than a single rolling backup.
  2. Write backups to ROM or at least sign the hash of the backups with a TSA secure timestamp handshake. Have the backup restoration process check the TSA server before trusting that the backup was restored from when you thought it was (e.g. just after a virus scan/company audit, instead of some other time).
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It can... usually a virus can't infect the NAS itself, but it could infect a computer you restore to. The usual thinking is that when recovering from a virus infection, you will update your anti-virus signatures so it can detect the virus - and then the restore is safe. During such a restore you may restrict the type of files that you restore, for example not restoring any executable files. Of course, viruses can propagate through non-executable files. As Tom Leek rightly says: recovering from a virus infection is hard!

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