Tag Archives: ransomware

Does Your Business Need Data Breach Insurance?

29 Nov 17
lverbik
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In the past few years, data breaches into small businesses by malicious hackers have climbed to an all-time high. According to data compiled by the Identity Theft Resource Center, at least 1,093 data breaches occurred in 2016, 40% more than the previous year. And this trend shows no sign of slowing down. In response to rampant cyber-attacks across the country, many small businesses have turned to data breach insurance, designed to financially protect and support victims of malicious hacking. If your system becomes infected by ransomware, the insurance can cover the cost and guide you through the process so you can mitigate damage and stress.

If your business creates and stores vast quantities of sensitive data — especially if that data is a vital asset to the company — you should at least consider protecting yourself with data breach insurance. When all else fails, it can mean the difference between shutting down for good and staying afloat in the midst of crisis.

SmallBizTrends.com 9/5/2017

The Latest Malware Threat Will Make You Wanna Cry

24 May 17
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Wannacry, Wannacrypt, Wannadecrypter, these are just some of the names of the latest string of malware circulating both the news cycles, and the internet.  They are all part of a Major Ransomware sting that hit the scene last weekend.  In case you don’t know Ransomware is a bug that infects your computer and then encrypts whole drives with an encryption key, making them useless unless you have the key to un-encrypt them.  The bad guys then offer to “Sell” you the key for $300 Bitcoin.  (Bitcoin is an internet currency that is untraceable, and gaining popularity as a global currency, and not just by the bad guys).  Wannacry exploited a vulnerability in Windows to encrypt the computers.  Microsoft had released the Patches back in March, and we had them set up to go out then.  We checked through our software and found that all of our clients that are on the Advantage Care Monitoring packages were already patched (there were a couple of un monitored computers that didn’t have the patch, but we took care of that).  We just wanted to let you know that we are taking these security threats serious, and are doing what we can to help protect you.

Things to watch out for:

  1. Strange attachments that you are not expecting in an email. If you get an email with an attachment that you are not expecting.  Before you open it, reach out and see if the individual actually sent something to you.  It was said that the Wannacry was being distributed via email (worm where bug would replicate itself and email it out to everyone in your contacts list).
  2. If you get that pesky window that pops up saying that it wants to run windows updates… let it.
  3. If you are on a maintenance plan with us, but you shut your computer down every night, we can’t push out the updates to you, and end up trying to push them out during the day, disrupting your work flow. This can be avoided by leaving your computers turned on at night, when we do the updates, and other housekeeping duties to ensure that your computers are up to date, and fresh for you the following day.
  4. Be mindful of where you are going on the internet. The internet is full of corrupted web sites, some are just malicious, and others are corrupt and could infect you just by visiting them.
  5. Nothing on the internet is “Free”. Free games, and Free coupons come with a catch.  They get to install stuff on your computer that sends them info, and leave you vulnerable.  Once these things get on your system, they reach out to their “Paying” friends and invite them to the party on your computer, and now all of a sudden your computer is crawling because all of this unwanted software is clogging everything up, and potentially doing harmful things in the background.
  6. Backup, Backup, Backup!!!!!! The best defense against Ransomware is just blow away the infected computer/files and rebuild it. A backup is essential for this.  An offsite, disconnected version is essential these days as well.  There have been cases where an external hard drive with all of the companies backup files were encrypted also (because they were connected to the computer when it was infected). So just having a backup file may not be enough.

We are taking extra steps to ensure all of our client’s security.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and we can  discuss this more.

Your #1 MUST-DO Resolution For 2017

28 Dec 16
lverbik
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With every New Year comes the chance to reset priorities. Unfortunately, when the topic of implementing a data recovery plan comes up, the comment we most often hear is “I know I should, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet…”

So…what if the pilot on the next flight you’re on announces right after takeoff, “I know we should have run through our preflight checklist, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet…???”

Without a solid backup and recovery plan in place, just one mission-critical file that gets lost or stolen could put your company in a world of serious hurt. When you compare the high cost of replacement, repair and recovery to the relatively trivial price of keeping good backups, the choice is an absolute no-brainer.

Why disaster recovery planning matters more than you think

Let’s face it, data is the nucleus of your business. That means that a single ransomware attack could wipe you out in a matter of minutes. Today’s cybercriminals are raking in literally billions of dollars (yes, billions) preying on the unwary, the poorly protected and those who “haven’t gotten around to it yet.” Let’s consider the facts…

Ninety-seven percent of IT services providers surveyed by Datto, a data protection company, report that ransomware attacks on small businesses are becoming more frequent, and they expect that trend to continue. These attacks are taking place despite anti-virus and anti-malware measures in effect at the time of the attack.

Windows operating systems are most often infected, followed by OS X. Cloud-based applications, particularly Dropbox, Office 365 and Google Apps, are also being targeted.

Ransom demands typically run between $500 and $2,000. About 10%, however, exceed $5,000. And even at that, paying a ransom demand is no guarantee that encrypted files will be released.

For a typical SMB, downtime from ransomware can cost around $8,500 per hour, and will take an average of 18.5 hours of the company’s time. That’s a hit to your bottom line somewhere in the neighborhood of $157,250. Yet in many cases the ultimate cost has reached into multiple hundreds of thousands.

In a recent survey of 6,000 IT professionals by the Ponemon Institute, 86% of companies had one or more incidents causing downtime in the past 12 months. Typical downtime was 2.2 days, with an average cost of $366,363. And that’s just the average. Could your company survive that kind of hit? It’s no wonder that 81% of smaller businesses suffering such an attack close their doors within three years.

It’s tragic. And yet the solution is so simple…

The #1 antidote for a data disaster

What’s behind these costly incidents? Here’s the breakdown of contributing factors:

  • Human error: 60%
  • Unexpected updates and patches: 56%
  • Server room environment issues: 44%
  • Power outages: 29%
  • Fire or explosion: 26%
  • Natural disasters: 10%

Note that human error accounts for 60% of the breaches. It’s no wonder then that ransomware attacks are on the rise, since they can be triggered by just one employee inadvertently clicking a bad link in an e-mail or social media site. Human behavior is hard to control. However, the #1 antidote for a ransomware attack is having a secure backup ready and waiting to replace encrypted files.

And when you scan through the rest of the list above, it becomes clear that, while you need to implement a comprehensive set of data security measures, having a solid and reliable data recovery plan in place and ready to go the moment disaster strikes is still your best defense.

 

Protecting Against Ransomware Threats

16 Dec 14
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In case you aren’t familiar with that term, ransomware refers to programs that hold your computer or hard drive hostage, demanding that you pay a ransom fee (hence the name) if you want to get your information back.

Once users become infected, they see an error screen that tells them they have a fixed amount of time, usually 100 hours, to send money to the virus developer before all information on the drive will be unavailable, deleted or encrypted.

Obviously, that can put anyone in a tough position. So, let’s look at what we know about one of the best known types of ransomware called a crypto virus, what you can do if it infects your computer, and the steps you can take to avoid it.

Like many other computer viruses, the crypto virus spreads through email attachments, infected programs and compromised websites.  Typically, these are disguised as PDF or Word files, hiding in official-looking emails.

Once you open the message, and the accompanying attachment, the virus hijacks your computer, and only the ransom screen will be shown.

Attackers may use one of several different approaches to extort money from their victims:

  • After a victim discovers he cannot open a file, he receives an email ransom note demanding a relatively small amount of money in exchange for a private key. The attacker warns that if the ransom is not paid by a certain date, the private key will be destroyed and the data will be lost forever.
  • The victim is duped into believing he is the subject of a police inquiry. After being informed that unlicensed software or illegal web content has been found on his computer, the victim is given instructions for how to pay an electronic fine.
  • The malware surreptitiously encrypts the victim’s data but does nothing else. In this approach, the data kidnapper anticipates that the victim will look on the Internet for how to fix the problem and makes money by selling anti-ransomware software on legitimate websites.

To protect against data kidnapping, Techno Advantage urges all users to backup data on a regular basis. If an attack occurs, do not pay a ransom. Instead, wipe the hard drive clean and restore data from the backup.

What To Do If Your Computer Becomes Infected With the Crypto Virus

The first thing to do, if you detect that one of your computers has become infected with the crypto virus, is to disconnect it from the network. Also, avoid connecting the computer to any external drives or storage devices. It is possible for connected computers, or entire networks, to become infected from a single workstation that’s sharing information.

Next, speak with a Techno Advantage IT professional immediately.

If you have a reliable backup and data recovery system in place, your IT professional can probably restore your files and computer back to a previous save point within an hour or two.

Here are 6 additional tips to help keep you, your business and your equipment safe.

  • Keep regular backups of your important files.
  • Use an anti-virus, and keep it up to date.
  • Keep your operating system and software up to date with patches.
  • Review the access control settings on any network drives you have.
  • Don’t give administrative privileges to your user accounts.

Don’t let the crypto virus keep you up at night…just be prepared with a solid backup solution and a trusted Techno Pro to guide you.  Contact us today for a consultation!