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Technology Tips and News for Busy Professionals

 

 

CryptoWall: a new security threat

 

Security_Nov10_AIs your business secure from the latest malware and security threats? The truth of the matter is that there is always a chance that your business and systems can be attacked and breached by a variety of security threats. One of the more common threats of last year was a nasty piece of ransomware called Cryptolocker. While the first version has largely been dealt with, there is news that a new version of this – called CryptoWall – which has surfaced.

 

What is Crypto malware?

 

Crypto malware is a type of Trojan horse that when installed onto computers or devices, holds the data and system hostage. This is done by locking valuable or important files with a strong encryption. You then see a pop-up open informing you that you have a set amount of time to pay for a key which will unlock the encryption. If you don’t pay before the deadline, your files are deleted.

When this malware surfaced last year, many users were understandably more than a little worried and took strong precautions to ensure they did not get infected. Despite these efforts, it really didn’t go away until earlier this year, when security experts introduced a number of online portals that can un-encrypt files affected by Cryptolocker, essentially neutralizing the threat, until now that is. A recently updated version is threatening users once again.

 

Cryptolocker 2.0, aka. CryptoWall

 

Possibly because of efforts by security firms to neutralize the Cryptolocker threat, the various developers of the malware have come back with an improved version, CryptoWall and it is a threat that all businesses should be aware of.

 

With CryptoWall, the transmission and infection methods remain the same as they did with the first version: It is most commonly found in zipped folders and PDF files sent over email. Most emails with the malware are disguised as invoices, bills, complaints, and other business messages that we are likely to open.

 

The developers did however make some “improvements” to the malware that make it more difficult to deal with for most users. These changes include:

·         Unique IDs are used for payment: These are addresses used to verify that the payment is unique and from one person only. If the address is used by another user, payment will now be rejected. This is different from the first version where one person who paid could share the unlock code with other infected users.

·         CryptoWall can securely delete files: In the older version of this threat, files were deleted if the ransom wasn’t paid, but they could be recovered easily. In the new version the encryption has increased security which ensures the file is deleted. This leaves you with either the option of paying the ransom or retrieving the file from a backup.

·         Payment servers can’t be blocked: With CryptoLocker, when authorities and security experts found the addresses of the servers that accepted payments they were able to add these to blacklists, thus ensuring no traffic would come from, or go to, these servers again. Essentially, this made it impossible for the malware to actually work. Now, it has been found that the developers are using their own servers and gateways which essentially make them much, much more difficult to find and ban.

 

How do I prevent my systems and devices from being infected?

 

Unlike other viruses and malware, CryptoWall doesn’t go after passwords or account names, so the usual changing of your passwords won’t really help. The best ways to prevent this from getting onto your systems is:

·         Don’t open any suspicious attachments - Look at each and every email attachment that comes into your inbox. If you spot anything that looks odd, such as say a spelling mistake in the name, or a long string of characters together, then it is best to avoid opening it.

·         Don’t open emails from unknown sources - Be extra careful about emails from unknown sources, especially ones that say they provide business oriented information e.g., bank statements from banks you don’t have an account with or bills from a utilities company you don’t use. Chances are high that they contain some form of malware.

 

Should your files be attacked and encrypted by this malware, then the first thing you should do is to contact us.  We can work with you to help find a solution that will not end up in you having to pay the ransom to recover your files.

 

If you are looking to learn more about CryptoWall malware and how to boost your security and protect your data and systems, give us a call - we can be you your first line of tech defense.

 

Important disaster recovery lessons

 

BCP_Nov24_CRegardless of what your business is, or where you are located, you may at some point face a disaster that affects your business operations. In order to make it through troubled waters without serious harm to your business you need to have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place. To help ensure that your strategy is ready, here are five tips that other businesses have learnt from facing disasters that you can work into your plans.

 

1. Have a full copy of your data backed up outside of your operating region

Almost every company, regardless of size, has backup measures in place. These backups can be either physical or digital, and are supposed to be carried out on a regular basis. If a disaster strikes, having access to your data can help ensure that you can recover your systems and resume operations in the minimal amount of time.

 

[ Read more ]

 

Investing in 3 main IT areas

 

BusinessValue_Nov03_A IT is in a near constant state of evolution, largely because of the sheer number of technology-based systems and products released on a weekly basis. This fast-paced development has led to the creation of three major IT areas. It is essential that companies invest in these three areas if they want their business to succeed.

 

 

 

[ Read more ]

 

Is Antivirus useless?

 

Recently, Mohammad Mannan, an assistant professor at the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering in Montreal, came forth with the position that modern malware has rendered antivirus products essentially useless. Mannan went on to say that because antivirus products struggle to detect malware, he believes anyone relying on antivirus as the first line of defense is likely vulnerable to attack.

 

Malware has become increasingly sophisticated, but has it really deemed antivirus useless?

 

[ Read more ]

 

 

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Volume 6, Number 6

 

“Building good relationships between people and their technology 365 days a year.”

 

 

 

COMMUNITY CALENDAR

 

Christmas in the Park

 

November 26 – December 31, 2014

 

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When something goes wrong with your IT, everything grinds to a halt. With a standard break/fix service contract, you have to wait for something to break before your provider can fix it. That equation seems to make sense – even though it could easily result in hours of downtime. But what if you could keep your IT from breaking in the first place?

With NetManage services from INFO-TEK, you can expect:

·         Peace of mind – your systems are monitored 24/7

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Remember, if you need help in implementing any of this month’s tips, contact us — we’re here to help.

 

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Brian Greenstreet

INFO-TEK, Enterprises, LLC

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