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Security & privacy

External hard drives are being wiped remotely – How to protect yours

It seems you can never have enough storage for your data. Between work documents, photos, videos and games, it’s no wonder that terabyte drives and other devices are becoming more common and affordable.

Cloud storage is also growing in popularity, but what happens to your stuff if the company decides to stop the service? That’s what people are experiencing as Samsung Cloud is being shut down. Tap or click here for instructions on what to do if you are affected by this.

A hacker can absolutely get into your computer and, through there, access your hard drive. But when you have your drive directly connected to a network, this opens new paths for mischief. This is what seems to have happened to some owners of a popular external hard drive.

Here’s the backstory

Western Digital My Book Live is a network-attached storage (NAS) device. Rather than plugging this drive into your computer via a USB cable, you connect it to an Ethernet port on your Wi-Fi router or network.

Thus you can access the drive from any device connected to that network, be it your phone, computer, laptop, tablet, etc. The advantage is you can share and access all types of files between these devices and the drive and back up your data all in one place.

While convenient, having a chunk of your data remotely accessible does carry risk. Unfortunately, some WD My Book Live users recently found out the hard way, reporting their drives have been wiped clean.

RELATED: Your privacy can also be compromised, as cloud storage services often collect your data

Wiped out

In a post on its community forum, Western Digital said that “some My Book Live devices are being compromised by malicious software. In some cases, this compromise has led to a factory reset that appears to erase all data on the device.”

Users attempting to access their My Book Live drive are getting a landing page requesting a password they don’t have. Some report that their drives have experienced a factory reset, which likely means the data is unrecoverable.

“We do not have any indications of a breach or compromise of Western Digital cloud services or systems,” Western Digital told Ars Technica. While we hope that this isn’t the result of a data breach, which would put many more users’ data at risk, you can’t be too cautious.

How to save your data

Western Digital recommends that you disconnect and power down your My Book Live from the internet to not only prevent further damage but to protect other devices sharing its network. Here is an official statement from the company:

“At this time, we recommend you disconnect your My Book Live from the Internet to protect your data on the device. We are actively investigating and we will provide updates to this thread when they are available.”

An important note is that these devices received their final firmware update all the way back in 2015. Hopefully, Western Digital is working on a fix and will push a much-needed update soon.

Keep reading

3 ways to save lost files from a failing hard drive

Google Photos storage isn’t what it used to be – Here are some alternatives

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