Posts made in August 2019

Ransomware Attack: Is your business at risk?

By Bill MacLennan, CEO of Your Computer Hero

I get a lot of questions from business owners about ransomware attacks, as I should, the statistics about the cost of ransomware attacks on businesses is nothing short of terrifying.  Here are some statistics you should be aware of regarding ransomware attacks:

 

  • A new organization will fall victim to ransomware attack every 14 seconds in 2019, and every 11 seconds by 2021 (Source: Cyber Security Ventures)
  • Ransomware attacks have increased by 97% in the last 2 years. (Source: Phishme)
  • 34% of business hit took a week or more to regain access to their data. (Source: Kaspersky)
  • In 2019, ransomware from phishing emails increased by 109% over 2017 (Source: Phishme)
  • Ransomware generates over $25 million for hackers each year. (Source: Business Insider)

 

Definition: Ransomeware; noun: ransomware; noun: ransom-ware

a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.  Usually, a program is deployed on the system that encrypts the data, the hacker then demands a ransom to unlock the encryption so the owner of the data can have it back.

 

In this article I want to give you a behind the scenes look into how we guard our clients’ networks against such attacks and discuss four ways that companies can be vulnerable.

There are 4 best primary ways that companies can safeguard themselves against a successful ransomware attack:

  1. Educate employees about phishing scams. Most ransomware attacks are initiated through email. Employees can be duped into clicking on a link that deploys the encryption software. Clicking the link gives permission to load the encryption software which looks for the Windows vulnerabilities once on the system.  Just last month, Monore College in New York had their computer systems and website shut down by a ransomware attack.  Hackers demanded 2 million dollars for the encryption code to release the ransomware.  The malicious software entered the system by an employee who clicked on an email link.
  2. Upgrade-for Microsoft 7 users. Microsoft will discontinue free support of Windows 7 this January. After this time, you may pay for support for three years, the price is per computer and increases each year.  I recommend updating to Windows 10. The support is critical because it updates the vulnerabilities to the latest hacker schemes, like the most recent ransomware attacks known as the “wannacry” or “NotPetya.”
  3. Be VERY VIGILANT about updating and implementing patches. Scheduled maintenance is not an option for your business network and it is a critical service that we offer our business clients. It is absolutely paramount that updates and patches get implemented on a timely basis. If you are not totally certain that these updates are happening as they should, it may be time to talk to us about doing that maintenance for you.  If a ransomware attack circumvents your firewall, it looks for Windows system vulnerabilities on the computers in the network, the patches and updates address these vulnerabilities.
  4. You must have adequate backups. If a ransomware attack happens, the first place we will look for recovery is your data backups. The best backups include an off site/cloud based copy that has redundancy, so multiple copies and multiple days worth.   In light of these increasing attacks, and others like them, I have come to believe that the best defense against a costly cyber attack is the Datto device.  This is a hardware piece that creates an exact, real time image of a server or data store computer so the system can be booted back up right away after it is hit.  The Datto device also has ransomware blocker that dramatically decreases the chance of a successful attack.

Definition: Phishing

noun: phish-ing /’fiSHing/: the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers (or in this case click on a link that executes malicious software)

 

According to a poll from Insureon and Manta, only 16% of small business owners think they are susceptible to a cyberattack.  Yet, 61% of attacks occur at smaller businesses.  Don’t wait until you are under attack to get your cyber security plan in place!  If you have more questions than answers regarding the security of your network, call our shop today to talk to one of our expert technicians!  We would love to answer your questions about your current system and discuss how we can help you avoid being a victim of the increasing number and severity of ransomware attacks.

September: Tech Gadget of the Month

Tech Gadgets that Improve Productivity, Security or Efficiency in the workplace.

UPWADE Portable Travel Power Strip 

  • Universal 100V-240V
  • 2 Outlets
  • Surge Protector
  • Travel Power Strip
  • 4 Smart USB Charger Ports (Max 5V 4.2A) 1200W
  • 5ft Long Extension Cord
  • Multi-Port Wall Charger (UL Listed)

 

There are never enough outlets for charging all of our devices. Airports and hotels are only slowly adapting to the needs of today’s travelers. This power strip will make you instantly popular with those nearby in the airport terminal. Great for a hotel “base” setup, easily stores, bag included, in any backpack or briefcase.

Retails for 16.99 + S&H on Amazon.com.

 

 

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Twin Cities Business Owners Make With Their Computer Network That Cost Them Time, Money and Aggravation

Want to avoid the most common and expensive computer problems most Twin Cities business owners experience? Then read on! We’ve compiled a list of 5 things you should be doing to save yourself a lot of time and money, by avoiding a big, ugly computer disaster.

  1. Have an automated off-site back-up system in place. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Having an off-site back-up of your data will be the equivalent of wearing a seatbelt in a major accident. You don’t think much about it until you need it, and then, you will thank your lucky stars you had it in place.

 

  1. Centralize your data on your server. At one time, servers only made sense for large organizations because of their high cost and complexity. But today, there are very affordable and easy-to-implement server systems designed specifically for any size small business. Depending on your business needs, your server can be in your office or hosted in the cloud. A server will not only speed up your network, but it will also make backups easier, allow secure remote access to allow you and your employees to work from home or on the road, and make it much easier to share documents, databases, and printers.

 

  1. Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date, and perform weekly spyware scans. Almost everyone understands the importance of anti-virus software, but many businesses still do not perform routine spyware sweeps. Spyware can cause a host of problems that include slowing down your systems, pop-up ads, and even identity theft.

 

  1. Create an acceptable use policy and enforce it! One of the biggest threats to your network are your employees! Although that sounds harsh, it is true. Employees can accidentally introduce viruses and spyware through innocent activities online such as checking their Gmail account, downloading photos, or visiting phishing websites set up by online criminals. There are several great programs available for monitoring employee activity online. If you would like a recommendation for your specific situation, call our office.

 

  1. Perform regular maintenance. Just like your car, a computer network needs regular maintenance. This includes monitoring of critical components, performance, security patches, and your back-up system. Regular maintenance can dramatically improve the speed and reliability of your network, as well as the security of your data. If you cannot afford to lose data or be down for days, you must perform regular maintenance on your network!

 

If you are on a monthly service with us  you can rest assured that all of these thing are covered.  If not, Contact Us NOW If You Want An Easy Way To Make
Sure You Aren’t Making These 5 Mistakes In Your Business!

 

3 Ways You Are Unknowingly Rolling Out The Red Carpet For Identity Thieves

Warning!

Even if you have anti-virus, spyware protection, and a firewall, you could still be an easy target for identity thieves, hackers and cyber criminals. Read on to find out how YOU are giving online criminals free access to your personal and financial information…

You’ve done all the right things. You’ve installed a good firewall, you keep your anti-virus up to date, and you’re making sure you keep up with the latest security patches…so your computer network should be safe from identity thieves, right?

Wrong!

According to a recent study, 37% of electronic identity theft cases had one thing in common: they were caused by an action taken by the user.  That’s right, more than a third of identity thefts were not thefts, but giveaways!

So how do you avoid this happening to you and your company?

No one is 100% safe, but the following 3 tips will stop you from accidentally giving online criminals access to your computer network and confidential information:

  •  Never visit or download free music files, videos or programs from file-sharing sites such as Kazaa. Not only are you downloading stolen materials, but these sites are surefire ways to introduce worms and viruses to your computer. If you are a business owner, set up web filtering software to prevent employees from downloading any unauthorized programs or files.

 

  • Never respond to any e-mail from a bank, credit card company, PayPal or online store where items are purchased (such as eBay) asking you to verify your account information, no matter how credible or legitimate it looks. These are phishing scams set up to access your account information.

 

  • Ask for identification from anyone asking for physical access to electronic equipment, and instruct staff do so as well.  Just to test a theory, I asked a friend to walk into an office, say they are from “the phone company” responding to a problem, and ask to see the network.  Access was granted to a complete stranger 100% of the time.

 

Ransomware Attack: Is your business at risk?

By Bill MacLennan, CEO of Your Computer Hero

I get a lot of questions from business owners about ransomware attacks, as I should, the statistics about the cost of ransomware attacks on businesses is nothing short of terrifying.  Here are some statistics you should be aware of regarding ransomware attacks:

 

  • A new organization will fall victim to ransomware attack every 14 seconds in 2019, and every 11 seconds by 2021 (Source: Cyber Security Ventures)
  • Ransomware attacks have increased by 97% in the last 2 years. (Source: Phishme)
  • 34% of business hit took a week or more to regain access to their data. (Source: Kaspersky)
  • In 2019, ransomware from phishing emails increased by 109% over 2017 (Source: Phishme)
  • Ransomware generates over $25 million for hackers each year. (Source: Business Insider)

 

Definition: Ransomeware; noun: ransomware; noun: ransom-ware

a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.  Usually, a program is deployed on the system that encrypts the data, the hacker then demands a ransom to unlock the encryption so the owner of the data can have it back.

 

In this article I want to give you a behind the scenes look into how we guard our clients’ networks against such attacks and discuss four ways that companies can be vulnerable.

There are 4 best primary ways that companies can safeguard themselves against a successful ransomware attack:

  1. Educate employees about phishing scams. Most ransomware attacks are initiated through email. Employees can be duped into clicking on a link that deploys the encryption software. Clicking the link gives permission to load the encryption software which looks for the Windows vulnerabilities once on the system.  Just last month, Monore College in New York had their computer systems and website shut down by a ransomware attack.  Hackers demanded 2 million dollars for the encryption code to release the ransomware.  The malicious software entered the system by an employee who clicked on an email link.
  2. Upgrade-for Microsoft 7 users. Microsoft will discontinue free support of Windows 7 this January. After this time, you may pay for support for three years, the price is per computer and increases each year.  I recommend updating to Windows 10. The support is critical because it updates the vulnerabilities to the latest hacker schemes, like the most recent ransomware attacks known as the “wannacry” or “NotPetya.”
  3. Be VERY VIGILANT about updating and implementing patches. Scheduled maintenance is not an option for your business network and it is a critical service that we offer our business clients. It is absolutely paramount that updates and patches get implemented on a timely basis. If you are not totally certain that these updates are happening as they should, it may be time to talk to us about doing that maintenance for you.  If a ransomware attack circumvents your firewall, it looks for Windows system vulnerabilities on the computers in the network, the patches and updates address these vulnerabilities.
  4. You must have adequate backups. If a ransomware attack happens, the first place we will look for recovery is your data backups. The best backups include an off site/cloud based copy that has redundancy, so multiple copies and multiple days worth.   In light of these increasing attacks, and others like them, I have come to believe that the best defense against a costly cyber attack is the Datto device.  This is a hardware piece that creates an exact, real time image of a server or data store computer so the system can be booted back up right away after it is hit.  The Datto device also has ransomware blocker that dramatically decreases the chance of a successful attack.

Definition: Phishing

noun: phish-ing /’fiSHing/: the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers (or in this case click on a link that executes malicious software)

 

According to a poll from Insureon and Manta, only 16% of small business owners think they are susceptible to a cyberattack.  Yet, 61% of attacks occur at smaller businesses.  Don’t wait until you are under attack to get your cyber security plan in place!  If you have more questions than answers regarding the security of your network, call our shop today to talk to one of our expert technicians!  We would love to answer your questions about your current system and discuss how we can help you avoid being a victim of the increasing number and severity of ransomware attacks.