What to Watch For – Ransomware Attacks

TeslaCrypt is one of the most prevalent ransomware attacks in the US

Ransomware – What You Need to Know

Diverse Tech Services has noticed a sharp increase in attempted ransomware attacks over Q1 and Q2 2016.  These attacks are primarily initiated through e-mail attachments, but also through social media websites linking to infected websites. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are susceptible to these attacks by linking users to outside web addresses.
What does ransomware do?

There are different types of ransomware. However, all of them will prevent you from using your PC normally, and they will all ask you to do something before you can use your PC.

They can target any PC users, whether it’s a home computer, endpoints in an enterprise network, or servers used by a government agency or healthcare provider.

Ransomware can:

  • Prevent you from accessing Windows.
  • Encrypt files so you can’t use them.
  • Stop certain apps from running (web browser, anti-virus).

Ransomware will demand that you pay money (a “ransom”) to get access to your PC or files. We have also seen them make you complete surveys.

There is no guarantee that paying the fine or doing what the ransomware tells you will give access to your PC or files again.

How to protect yourself?

  1. Be cautious about unsolicited attachments
    The crooks are relying on the dilemma that you should not open a document until you are sure it is the one you want, but you cannot tell if it is the one you want until you open it. If in doubt, leave it out.
  2. Do not enable macros in any document attachment received via email
    Microsoft deliberately turned off auto-execution of macros by default many years ago as a security measure. A lot of malware infections rely on persuading you to turn macros back on, so do not do it!
  3. Regularly backup your important files
    There are dozens of ways other than ransomware that files can suddenly vanish, such as fire, flood, theft, a dropped laptop or even an accidental delete. If your company has a share drive or file server, make sure to save your important files there. Often saving them to “My Documents” or to the “Desktop” does not ensure that they are backed up.

 

How does ransomware work?

Ransomware is computer malware that installs covertly on a victim’s computer, executes a cryptographic attack that adversely affects it, and demands a ransom payment to restore it.

Simple ransomware may lock the system in a way which is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, and display a message requesting payment to unlock it. More advanced malware encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. The ransomware may also encrypt the computer’s Master File Table (MFT) or the entire hard drive.

Thus, ransomware is a denial-of-access attack that prevents computer users from accessing files since it is intractable to decrypt the files without the decryption key. Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan that has a payload disguised as a legitimate file.

 

How does Diverse Tech Service stop the threat?

Diverse Tech Services utilizes the latest in security tools. We work to block all threat vectors to ensure total protection. When it comes to stopping these advanced threats in their tracks, we rely on our Email Security Service, or ESS.

ESS is a comprehensive and affordable cloud-based email security service that protects both inbound and outbound email against the latest spam, viruses, worms, phishing, and denial of service attacks.

Whether you manage your own mail server such as Microsoft Exchange or use a hosted service like Microsoft Office 365, Spam and viruses are blocked in the cloud prior to delivery to your network, saving network bandwidth and providing additional Denial of Service protection.

Cloud Computing – How will it Affect Your Business?

smilingbrunettewoman-armscrossedWe are always on the watch for the ‘next best thing’ when it comes to technology and the Internet. Certainly no one can doubt that Cloud Computing and the next generation of the Internet have had a dramatic effect on how people interact and connect with each other – both from an individual standpoint and a business one.

The hottest emerging concept that has the power to change how we perform tasks is taking place before us – and it is Cloud Computing. Simply put, it is the ability to use resources and tools via the Internet without actually owning or being near them. The only requirement is to be able to access them. Read more

What to Look For When Choosing an Online Data Storage Service

datastorageThe days of keeping confidential business information locked in a metal filing cabinet are gone. Most businesses have most everything, from personnel files to client and financial information, stored on their personal computers or computer network. What happens when your company runs out of storage space? Or, worse yet, what if your network is attacked by a virus, your equipment stolen, or your server is damaged by a flood? Would you be able to quickly recover all of your important information and keep your company running smoothly? Online data storage services are the answer. Read more

It’s Time To Break Up With Your Old Tape Drive

They say breaking up is hard to do; but when it comes to choosing between your old familiar tape drive and risking your company’s data, it should be a no-brainer. Tape drives are notorious for failure — and if you are still swapping out tapes as your only backup source, here are 4 reasons you need to break it off:Feruary-Image

  1. Your tape drive is a cheater. Here you are, faithfully swapping tapes and taking them home every day (at least you do most of the time), feeling secure that your data is safe and that you could be back up and running again fast in the event of a disaster, right? Wrong.Your tape drive only backs up your data—the information you have physically typed in; but your software programs, network settings, printer and Internet configurations are NOT getting backed up and cannot be recovered from the tape. That means if your server were to go up in flames (or simply fails) you would have to find all your software disks and authentication codes and REBUILD your server. That task could take several days, costing you a lot of money and lost time.
  2. You could lose an entire day’s worth of work. Ever lose an hour’s worth of work or a document because Word crashed? Now imagine losing an ENTIRE DAY’S worth of work. Frustrating, huh? Since tape drives can’t perform open file OR continuous backups, if your system crashes at the end of the day, all the documents, entries and work you (and your entire staff) completed that day are toast. And if Murphy’s Law applies, that would be the day you hammered through a grueling 30-page report.Newer virtual backup systems will take a snapshot of your server every 30 minutes, saving your work from going into Never-Neverland. Plus, if you leave files open at night when you leave for the day (and we all do that occasionally), it will back up those files too.
  3. Your tape drive will abandon you when you need it most. You can only retrieve the data from your tape with a compatible tape drive. If you have had your tape drive more than 2 years, it may be a phased out model, no longer available to order. This could mean that when you need to recover your data, you are unable to, even if the data is there.
  4. You can’t trust a tape drive. Tapes have an average failure rate of 100%—they all fail, it’s just a matter of when, not if. Plus, you have to remember to swap out tapes every day, which leaves room for human error.

The bottom line is this: Tape drives are antiquated, and they’re an incredibly unpredictable way of backing up your company’s data. That’s why we urge all our clients to “break up” with their old tape drives and upgrade to Diverse Tech Services Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan.