Acronis integrates anti-malware into Acronis True Image backup solution

Acronis True Image had anti-ransomware security before, but a full security stack has now been added, replicating the company’s expansion of their enterprise Acronis Backup offering into Acronis Cyber Protect earlier this year.

Today, Acronis is announcing the release of Acronis True Image 2021. For the first time, the new version of the product integrates cybersecurity capabilities into its core backup functionality. The new capabilities do for Acronis’ consumer and small business solution what the new Acronis Cyber Protect solution did earlier this year for their enterprise offering.

Acronis True Image is  viewed primarily as a consumer product, but while it was originally designed as such, and the consumer market is the largest market segment for the product today, it is only one of three groups the product  now targets.

“We see clearly three type of customers for True Image,” said Gaidar Magdanurov, Acronis’ Chief Cyber Officer and Chief Operating Officer. “One is home users protecting their own data. One is prosumers, including a lot of freelancers. And the other is a significant amount of home businesses that don’t have servers, typically small businesses of five persons and under, like CPAs, lawyers and small offices.”

While this is a very mature product – its first version came out in 2003 – Magdanorov emphasized that with this release it has been fundamentally restructured.

“This is a breakthrough version,” he said. “It is the first one with security integrated into the backup, which also makes it a replacement for any kind of endpoint protection. True Image was a revolutionary solution back when it was first released back in 2003, because it could create a full image backup for a full machine, and was bare metal as well. Now we are doing something that is just as disruptive with our integration between backup and anti-malware and anti-virus. We believe that today it’s important to have an integrated solution.”

The security capabilities were all designed by Acronis in-house.

“Four or five years ago, we started to hire security people, and started with our behavioral engine for ransomware, with both zero-day and signature-based defences,” Magdanurov said. As a result, for several years, True Image has had antiransomware and a cryptojacking blocker that uses artificial intelligence and behavioral heuristics to stop attacks in real-time, while also automatically restoring any affected files. What they are now is expanding those security capabilities into the same full stack that was announced for their enterprise product in May, when Acronis Backup became Acronis Cyber Protect. It includes real-time antimalware protection, on-demand antivirus scans, web filtering, and videoconference protection.

“We use the same anti-virus engine in our corporate solution,” Magdanurov said. “Virus Bulletin gave it a 100% detection rate and a 0% false positive rate. We also managed to integrate it all in a very easy to use solution, which requires no configuration of difficult settings.”

Selling this kind of integrated message to enterprise customers these days is pretty easy. Selling it to small businesses and consumers still has some challenges, Magdanurov acknowledged.

“We did significant research around this,” he said. “Many don’t see a problem until they are hit by malware and need to recover. They often don’t know that  malware doesn’t always corrupt immediately, but will encrypt some files on OneDrive to ensure their backup gets hit as well. They think everything is protected, but it isn’t. A lot of this market also thinks they don’t have anything important to protect, or that basic traditional AV is good enough for them. We need to explain to them why that kind of protection isn’t sufficient.”

On the other hand, the move to Work From Home has improved awareness to some degree.

“With COVID, you have people working from home networks which are not as well protected, and where you have kids’ computers and smart TVs on the same network,” Magdanurov said. “This is a completely new vector of attack.”

Traditional anti-malware vendors have also run into a challenge since Microsoft Defender was rolled out and established a good reputation in the market, unlike Microsoft’s earlier security efforts, whose weaknesses spawned the rise of the third party anti-malware vendors in the first place. Acronis deals with the Defender issue by emphasizing that it still has limitations, particularly from not being integrated with the backup.

“Microsoft Defender has improved over the years, and has the advantage of being free, but it is still a point product,” said Candid Wüest. Acronis’ Vice President of Cyber Protection Research. “It doesn’t protect the backups like we do, and it’s not part of an integrated solution. We can use the benefit of the integration to speed up things. We can also use it to tell security never to delete things from backup. Defender also just had a big false positive issue where an update determined Citrix broker services were malicious, and deleted the Citrix controllers as a result.”

“We also hear from customers, especially MSPs and prosumers with IT skills, that relying on one vendor for both your production workloads and your backup isn’t really considered a backup,” Magdanurov said. “They want one vendor for production and another vendor for backup protection.”

Four versions of Acronis True Image are available: Standard, Essential, Advanced and Premium. Standard pricing starts at $59.99 for one computer. Advanced and Premium versions are being launched with a special one-year promo with launch prices of $69.99 and $99.99 respectively per year per computer. Those promo prices are available until November 2020.