Crypto Currency: Ransomware & Your Vulnerability

Crypto mining is not against the law, nor is it a nefarious activity. At least not most of the time. But in order to fully understand why crypto mining can be a problem, we need to start from the beginning.

Our story starts with the creation of a crypto currency called “Bitcoin”.  Like Paypal, Bitcoin is an online transaction system. Unlike Paypal, Bitcoin is decentralized or “open source”. In other words, it’s open to all users, meaning any developer can modify the code that makes the software do what it does. However, all modifications must pass muster with the software’s lead developer, Gavin Andresen.

With Paypal, each transaction is authenticated by a single authority or custodian. By contrast, Bitcoin uses something called a blockchain. A blockchain is a public record sent to everyone in the network. When a transaction occurs, the computers in the network automatically adjust the balances of the addresses involved in the transaction. The beauty of this system is that it’s impossible for anyone to edit and makes for a permanent record of the transaction.

What Crypto Miners Do

Crypto miners are computers along that chain. Their sole purpose is to donate their processing power, enabling verification of transactions included in the current “block”. Once that is complete, a new block is created and a new public record is distributed. In exchange for use of their CPU power, crypto miners receive 12.5 Bitcoins for every ten minutes of processing power.

Being that crypto mining is computationally intensive, it requires resources that far exceed your average laptop computer (although in Bitcoin’s infancy, that wasn’t the case). It requires dedicated processors, graphic cards and more. There is overhead involved in mining currency.

Cryptocurrency Malware

As a way to circumvent these costs, disreputable miners developed malware that can imitate the botnets that normally perform this function. This malware can hijack your CPU and slow everything down – sometimes to a halt. Delivery of crypto malware can occur through all of the usual means – spam emails, links and unwanted applications.

And then there’s Ransomware

These same malwares can present themselves in the form of ransomware. Ransom is always requested in Bitcoin or any of the other 700+ cryptocurrencies around today. The reason for this is simple. Cryptocurrency works with complete anonymity. You can’t trace the sender or the receiver.

Develop a Plan

At Beacon, that’s what we do. As IT professionals, we work with you to ensure the safety and security of your online business.  Get a free website security assessment or contact us at 336.447.3473 with any questions regarding your businesses’ IT needs. Together, we can develop a prevention plan that’ll keep your proprietary information in and cyber criminals out.

By | 2017-12-11T11:36:53+00:00 December 8th, 2017|IT Services|0 Comments

Is Hacktivism a Problem for Your Business?

Back in the 80’s, when someone hacked a website, they left a message not unlike graffiti. “Hackers rule” or something silly like that. It was relatively harmless. These days, hackers have grown up and hack with resolve. If they should deem your website or business counter to their beliefs, you could find yourself out of business within days.

Research suggests that 1 in 5 hackers are hacktivists. That is, their motivation for hacking is activism. Some of this activity may be seen as productive. For example, a hacker once created an open source software that enabled people in China to circumvent government censorship. Through the use of this software, one could access restricted websites such as CNN or Amnesty International, even in countries where it had been banned by government.

However, there is a dark side to hacktivism. Hackers often use open source hacking tools to penetrate Windows networks and employ “denial of service” attacks to bring down legitimate businesses. Essentially, a “denial of service” or DoS attack bombards a server with more requests than it can handle until it ceases functioning. More effective than a traditional protest or picket line, a DoS attack can cut off a business’s sole source of online revenue, crippling it in the process. DoS attacks can be implemented through email spam, downloads and various other methods.

These open source tools go by names such as Social Engineer Toolkit, John the Ripper and Metasploit. Anyone can use them and they’re readily available for download online. Go ‘head. Perform a Google search and see for yourself. It’s more than a little bit scary.

Here’s a number that’s scarier, still. 60% of small businesses call it quits within 6 months of a cyber attack. Don’t be one of them. Follow a few simple precautions.

  1. Use the latest versions of software. Software updates ensure that vulnerabilities identified by the author have been addressed. If a software doesn’t have a recent update, then it may be wise to seek an alternative software.
  2. Make sure security extends across mediums. Anything connected to your network needs to be secure including cell phones and tablets. Use of a PIN code is highly desirable.
  3. Don’t rely on W-Fi. It’s risky and easily exploited. Make sure that employees use a VPN when accessing the network off-site. A VPN (or virtual private network) provides a layer of security as one must log on before being able to access an open wireless network.
  4. Educate employees. Just today, users of a common browser cleaner called CCleaner learned that the latest version has been compromised when hackers breached the author’s security. As a result, CCleaner version 5.3 not only contains software updates but a multi-stage malware payload. Approximately 2.27 million users are affected. Make sure your employees know what they should and should not download on their work stations. Create a list of approved tools.
  5. Be proactive. Develop a risk management plan. Identify your vulnerabilities and most valuable assets. Develop a strategy to secure the most valuable information first and work from there.

For certain business markets, hacktivism is an obvious threat. A fur business knows it has to protect itself from PETA activists. Political parties must protect themselves from their ideological counterparts.

For some of us however, the answer isn’t quite so obvious. So, consider the worst case scenario. If you were to lose your most important asset to a network hack, could you overcome it?

Feel free to leave a comment or email me with your thoughts and ideas on hacktivism. If you think your business is at risk and wish to take action to protect it, call me at 336.447.3473.

By | 2017-10-03T05:21:30+00:00 September 17th, 2017|IT Services|0 Comments

Do Your Employees Hide Cybersecurity Incidents?

While advanced hackers may use malware, they often start by attempting to exploit the easiest point of entry. This typically includes phishing emails similar to the Google Docs email link that had Google on its toes recently.

If your employees leave events such as this unreported, the consequences could be devastating to your cybersecurity. With that in mind, let’s discuss some things you can do to mitigate your company’s exposure. From office culture to properly managed hosting, there are steps you can take to prevent a cybersecurity meltdown.

Is this problem unique to small business?

In fact, businesses of all sizes experience vulnerability from within. A recent report indicates that while roughly 40% of employees working with medium size companies hide incidents, the percentage drops significantly with companies of under 50 employees. This makes a great deal of sense. Here’s why.

Office culture plays a significant role in incident disclosure.

A smaller staff generally means a more easily controlled office culture. There are fewer people to educate or inform. This becomes evident when one looks at businesses of less than 50 employees. Here, the incident rate drops to roughly 30%.

The message one conveys to office staff is of paramount importance. It should be one of education, not punishment. Ask yourself why employees hide a potential breach. The answer is simple. Fear. If an employee is threatened with termination for such a mistake, it is clearly in their best interests to sweep it under the rug.

To summarize, take an educational approach to your cybersecurity office culture. Emphasize responsibility while reducing fear of punitive consequences. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Take reasonable security measures.

Start with basic password protection. Require that users re-log in after periods of inactivity. Restrict use of the office network for business. File sharing of a personal nature or access to inappropriate content begs for a security breach. When working remotely, employees should be working through a company VPN requiring a robust password.

Make sure your security software is up to date.

Set up appropriate firewalls and make sure that your IT department or hosting partner has an intrusion detection and monitoring system in place. Make sure that they are staying on top of anti-virus updates and installing patches accordingly.

Questions about your company’s cybersecurity?

If cybersecurity is an issue you’re giving thought to, give the folks at Beacon a ring. Call one of our team members at 336.447.3473 or send me an email. Better yet, take our FREE network assessment and let us help you understand your current state of vulnerability and what you can do about it.

By | 2017-08-31T11:45:18+00:00 September 6th, 2017|IT Services|0 Comments

Cybersecurity Threats & Trends

Despite significant investment in cybersecurity, businesses are seeing more cyber-attacks that ever before. Remember back to Black Friday, October 21. We saw the largest DDoS attack of its kind, bringing down sites such as Twitter, Netflix and CNN. And things are trending worse.

There were almost 1000 reported data breaches in 2016 according to the ITRC (Identity Theft Resource Center). In 2015, there were under 800. That’s about a 25% increase in reported incidents. Noting past threats and recognizing trends can be an important part in deterring future intrusions.

“Call now and we’ll send you a second set of ransomware free!!”

Almost 60% of ransomware infections were found to have been delivered through email and infected email transmissions increased by a whopping 6000% last year. Yes, that’s three zeroes.

Perhaps worst of all, many of those who were adversely affected simply considered it the cost of doing business. Nearly 70% of those hit paid the ransom. Look at these numbers (particularly the last one) and you can see why this will remain a problem. Hackers have every reason to continue a very profitable activity. There’s an underground market for open source ransomware, too.

In fact, anyone can build and launch ransomware from their own home. Buying a kit on the dark web is almost like shopping on late night TV. Yesterday’s ShamWOW is today’s AKBuilder ransomware kit. As a result, the threat of cyber-attacks has the potential to increase 10 fold in 2017.

Employee Error: Loose Lips Sink Ships

There’s a huge underground market for access to email accounts, phone numbers and private data, as we all know. Even on a locked iPhone, one can gain access through voice-activated commands.

Additionally, irresponsible use of mobile devices by employees continues to be a problem. Remember “jailbreaking” your iPhone? Some of those who chose to do so unwittingly sent their personal information to a server in China. Even foreign governments are in the hacking business.

What kind of name is Siri, anyway? Does she sound American?

“Hacktivism” is Here to Stay

If you run almost any kind of business, you may be in the crosshairs of a group representing a cause or political objective. These groups are becoming increasingly hostile towards those with alternative viewpoints and have been embracing the idea of hacking the sites of their adversaries.

We’re all familiar with WikiLeaks and the CIA debacle. One can debate whether the cause is good or bad. One cannot (or should not, in my view) condone cyber theft under any circumstances.  But as a society, we often look the other way when it suits us. As long as that’s the case, this problem will persist.

The Last Word

If you’re in the process of evaluating your network security and/or stability, I invite you to contact Beacon directly and speak with a BITS specialist. We’re happy to answer any questions and get you started on protecting your business’ proprietary information. Call us at 336.232.5675 or email klackey@beacontec.com.

By | 2017-08-21T09:12:22+00:00 August 21st, 2017|IT Services|0 Comments

Is It Time to Move to a Cloud Based Server?

Applications are running slower. Productivity is suffering. So, you’ve decided to face the music and  update your network servers. But your business partner is singing a different tune. He wants to go with what’s trendy. It’s what all the kids are talking about, he says. It’s called Cloud Hosting.

In our respective business spaces, we all want to be the Rolling Stones, not Gnarls Barkley*.  With that in mind, do we go with the traditional dedicated server or the trendy, cloud server? Cloud server vs. dedicated Server. You can look at this as the IT version of American Idol or, for the baby boomers among us, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.

Cloud Hosting – One Hit Wonder or Here to Stay?

Are cloud based servers the one hit wonders of IT or are they in it for the long haul? Before we proclaim cloud hosting as the greatest thing since The Beatles, let’s examine the pros and cons.

What are the Advantages of Cloud Servers?

Backup & Recovery – This is a huge upside, especially for small and medium size businesses. Backup is automatic and Cloud based backup service requires no large up-front investment. In the event of an unexpected event, disaster recovery is as easy as 1-2-3.

Software Updates Are Automatic – Providers roll out regular software updates so you don’t have to. This includes the all-important security updates. Best of all, it frees up more time for business as usual.

Low Upfront Cost – Cloud servers are subscription based so there is no upfront hardware expense. You simply pay as you go.

Remote Workstations – You can have access to your documents or desktop from anywhere. Additionally, you can offer remote opportunities to employees, making it easier to attract the best talent.

Security – Lost a laptop? No problem. As well as having the safeguard of a cloud backup, one can wipe data from a lost laptop so proprietary information doesn’t find its way to a competitor.

This is just a short list. There are other advantages, too.

What are the disadvantages of a cloud based server?

Downtime – You are at the mercy of your internet connection. When it’s offline, so are you. If your connection is reliable, then all is good. But, if you’ve experienced frequent outages in the past, think carefully before you take the plunge.

Data Breach – While hosting companies have made significant strides in this area, hacking still occurs. Despite added security features, your data is not 100% secure here or anywhere, for that matter.

Data Transfer Costs – While transferring data to the cloud is generally free, you should be aware that outbound data transfers over the basic monthly allowance of the agreement are charged a fee.

The Votes Are In

If this were American Idol, we’d invite this contestant back. In American Bandstand terms, it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.

How ‘Bout a Dedicated Server?

Dedicated servers are like Elvis. At one time, they were the hippest thing out there. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want “a hunk, a hunk, o’ burnin’ love”? I know I do. But there’s a little bit more to it than that. So, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of having your own dedicated servers.

What Are the Advantages of Designated Servers?

It’s Dedicated (Not Shared) – In some cases, the resources of a single cloud server can be tried by other clients who suck up CPU and RAM. This cannot happen with a dedicated server, by definition.

Performance – Since you know that you’re not sharing the server with tons of other people’s traffic, performance should be great. However, if you’re seeing a large influx of your own traffic, you may have outgrown it.

Unique IP Address – On a cloud server, you share an IP address. If your neighbor is spammy, your performance, rankings and more could be adversely affected. This is never an issue with your own dedicated network server.

What Are the Drawbacks of Designated Servers?

CostUpfront cost can be prohibitive.You’re purchasing a lot of hardware that, in the case of a cloud hosting arrangement, resides elsewhere.

MaintenanceUnless IT is a core competence of yours, you’ll need a full-time IT staff or someone to troubleshoot problems as they arise. You’ll incur expense from tech support as well as possible revenue gaps from downtime.

The Kids Are Alright

Just as with cloud services, we’d invite them back. And the kids say you can dance to this, too. Truth is, either solution may be right for you depending on your organization’s individual and unique needs. Feel free to contact us at 336.447.3473 with any questions regarding your server needs and situation. One of our BITS experts can help you determine which solution is best for you and help punch your ticket to your own Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

*Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” peaked at #2 in the charts in 2006. The duo never made it to the top 40 again.

By | 2017-08-07T11:15:57+00:00 August 7th, 2017|Hosting Services, IT Services|1 Comment

What is a Firewall and Why Do I Need One?

If you’re like most people, you know what a firewall does on a very basic level. However, many are unclear as to how they work – and in some cases, if they have one enabled in their network. Below, we’ll discuss the whys and wherefores regarding firewall protection and provide some clarity to anyone asking “Do I need a firewall?”.

What Is a Firewall?

Your network security depends on a gatekeeper to sort out those who wish to communicate with or access your business network for legitimate reasons from those whose intentions are less than ethical.  A Control model defines what type of traffic the firewall allows to pass and which traffic is denied access. Some types of firewalls include:

  • Access Control Lists
  • Proxy
  • Next Generation (NGFW)

Access Control Lists

Access control lists or ACLs perform a basic function. Through some very simple rules, they determine network access based on IP addresses. However, ACLs provide only the most basic information on incoming traffic and are not nearly adequate enough to filter out traffic threats.

Proxy Firewalls

Acting as a middleman of sorts, a proxy firewall can make more intelligent decisions. The proxy firewall vets the incoming communication and determines its legitimacy.  If it decides to grant access, the information is repackaged with the proxy server as the source address. This is referred to as packet filtering. This process breaks the one to one connection between the two computers so that there is a single gateway between the network and the rest of the WWW.

Next Generation Firewalls

While the description above is a gross simplification of the process, one can easily envision hackers finding a way around a firewall through development of more sophisticated malware. Next generation firewalls (NGFWs) are even more sophisticated, combining traditional firewall protection with added filtering functionalities. They can be more granular in their inspection of incoming traffic and can detect more sophisticated application specific attacks, for example.

Why Do I Need Firewall Protection?

Make no mistake about it, hackers would love to compromise your POS system and harvest your customer’s credit card data. Some may simply want to hijack your high speed connection to send out spam email or viruses. Either way, they can do tremendous damage to your company’s reputation.

A firewall provides protection against session hacking, viruses, malicious worms and identity theft, among other things. Here are just a few of the bigger threats that are out there:

  • Viruses and their after effects
  • POS Intrusions
  • Hacking
  • Phishing (Identity Theft)
  • Denial of Service (DoS) attacks
  • Rootkits (Spyware)
  • Ransomware

Even next generation firewalls (NGFWs) aren’t 100% effective. It may be advantageous to review your current network firewall setup to ensure that the network security you currently have in place isn’t outdated. When it comes to network threats, it is often more cost effective to be proactive rather than reactive.

What Can BITS do for your business to ensure your network security?

With over 20 years’ experience in network security, the BITS team of network security experts can ensure that your network is protected from hackers, viruses and the many other security risks that exist. Working with primarily small and medium sized businesses, our network consultants can assess your current situation, install a brand new hardware based firewall or make recommended changes to your existing network security.

Take the first step to ensuring your businesses’ network security by getting a FREE network assessment from the IT professionals at Beacon. Or, call 336.447.3473. Either way, you can rest assured that you’ve taken the first step to securing your computer network from the increasingly sophisticated threats that await.

 

 

By | 2017-07-12T07:49:27+00:00 July 6th, 2017|IT Services|0 Comments

Which is Better; Hosted Email or Local Email?

The importance of a sound email system for your business cannot be overstated. Each has its advantages. And while both hosted and local email solutions have their advantages, a 3rd party hosted solution has been an option exclusive to larger companies with more substantive budgets.  The good news is that a hosted email solution is no longer out of reach to small and medium sized businesses. The only question is….

Which email solution works best for your individual needs, Hosted Email or Local Email?

If you’re in the process of auditing your current email delivery solution, you may have noticed that the landscape has changed considerably since the last time you considered your alternatives. In the past, the biggest obstacle to those who prefer a hosted email solution has been cost. This may be the biggest change in the past several years. Blackberry devices are no longer popularly used, hence the decreasing costs of support for these devices. Support for newer Android devices is a bit more reasonable. Additionally, mailbox limits have increased significantly for many hosted services. Still, both hosted email and local email solutions have their distinct advantages.

The Balance Sheet: Hosted email vs. Local Email

When faced with a decision such as this one, I like to make a balance sheet or “plus and minus” list, if you will. You’ll find just such an exercise below. Here’s the advantages and disadvantages of each, starting with hosted email.

HOSTED

Advantages

  • No need to purchase a software license.
  • No need for an internal server or a designated resource to maintain it.
  • You can get your email off site if/when network is down.
  • Spam filter is included.
  • Dedicated support.

Disadvantages

  • Monthly fee per user.
  • Phone access is extra.

LOCAL

Advantages

  • No mailbox limit.
  • No email phone costs.

Disadvantages

  • You need to run a server.
  • You’ll need a dedicated resource to maintain said server.
  • You’ll need to purchase spam filter software.

I’ve kept this list as general as possible so as to appeal to as wide a business audience as possible. That having been said, hosting services vary considerably in the features, services and support they provide.  If you’re in the process of evaluating which option or looking for a great IT provider, I invite you to contact Beacon directly and speak with a BITS specialist. We’re happy to answer any questions, provide needed detail and discuss alternatives. Call us at 336.232.5675 or email klackey@beacontec.com.

 

By | 2017-07-10T09:10:34+00:00 June 20th, 2017|IT Services|0 Comments

Have You Been Asking “Should I Upgrade to Windows 10”?

If you’re currently running Windows 8 or 8.1 and didn’t update by summer of 2016, it’ll cost about $120 to upgrade to Windows 10. After the debacle that was Vista, one has to wonder if it’s worth updating to Windows 10 at any cost.

Below, we’ll consider the pros and cons of updating to Windows 10. The only assumption is that you’re currently running Windows 8 or 8.1.

First, let’s discuss the reasons why NOT to update to Windows 10:

Lots of Ads – You’ll be force-fed ads for Windows Store apps as your Windows Store app usage is tracked in Windows 10. Which brings us to the all-important privacy issue…

Privacy? Who Needs Privacy? – While many of the default settings can be disabled so as to protect your privacy, Windows 10 uses Cortana. As a result, your queries are sent to the Microsoft servers, whether you like it or not.

Less Control Over Updates – With Windows 8.1, you have manual control over your updates. When you’re running Windows 10 and Microsoft pushes out an update, you get it. No matter what. I like to control my own destiny so…this one hurts.

Software Upgrade CompatibilityI first noticed this when I tried to use Photoshop CS6, the last Photoshop edition that does not require a subscription. However, CS6 will not run on the Windows 10. I am forced to buy an expensive creative cloud subscription. I already paid for the right to use Photoshop. This shortcoming is both annoying and costly. Purchasing a PC that runs 8 is less costly.

But Windows 10 has its perks, too:

CortanaYour personal PC assistant is voice activated. Rather than type your search query, you can ask Cortana and get an answer. Pretty neat feature, eh? Remember though, as mentioned above, Cortana has a big mouth. She’ll share your personal data with a Microsoft server. But if privacy isn’t an important issue for you, then it’s a pretty cool feature.

Security – In this day and age, this is a huge plus. Not only is the architecture more secure, the fingerprint authentication feature means that if your laptop falls into the wrong hands, all is not lost. I love this aspect of Windows 10.

Support – Security updates for Windows 8 runs through January of 2018. After that, you’re at your own peril. By contrast, Windows 10 will be supported through 2025.

With Beacon, Full Support Is At Your Fingertips, Regardless of OS

Regardless of which OS you choose to run, the Beacon IT Services (BITS) team can troubleshoot and remedy technology issues of all kinds. Need to upgrade to Windows 10 or restore your computers’ operating system to an earlier version? No worries. We got it. Just call a Beacon IT specialist at 336.232.5675.

By | 2017-06-12T06:17:41+00:00 June 5th, 2017|IT Services|0 Comments

What Is A Firewall and Do I Need One

A firewall is a network security system that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic based on a set of security rules. A firewall acts as a barrier between trusted, secured internal networks and less scrupulous networks. These security measures work to prevent unauthorized access to or from private networks. They examine all messages entering or leaving a company’s intranet.

Hardware Firewalls

When we speak of hardware firewalls they are specialized network boxes that contain customized hardware and software. When configured hardware firewalls provide a protective barrier around an organization’s computer systems and the outside world. Hardware firewalls are best suited for an organization that desires a security umbrella that encapsulates multiple systems. As you might imagine this solution is a bit more expensive than its software counterpart and more suited for medium-sized businesses.

Software Firewalls

In contrast to its counterpart, software firewalls are a more attractive option for individual users and smaller businesses. Software firewalls are installed directly on an individual’s PC or workgroup server. Software firewalls can also be used in conjunction with their hardware counterpart. Software firewalls are convenient for mobile workers that need digital security when they are in the field.

What Do Firewalls Protect Against?

Firewalls are vital for protecting against attacks and winning battles against cybercriminals bent on stealing sensitive business information. A firewall provides a critical choke point. This is where security audits can be imposed. They work to protect confidential information from those not authorized to access it and protect against malicious users.

Types of Firewalls

Firewalls can be broken down into three main types:

  • Packet filters – This type of firewall operates at the router level and compares each packet received to a set of established criteria. Packet-filtering firewalls evaluate IP addresses, packet type, port number etc before being dropped or forwarded.
  • Stateful inspection – Also known as dynamic packet filtering, this firewall technology monitors the state of active TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) sessions and uses this information to determine which packets to pass through.
  • Proxies – This firewall acts as an intermediary between in-house clients and servers on the internet.

The Key Takeaway

If you are a small business with sensitive data then it is critical to take steps to safeguard your business information. Whether your organization chooses to adopt a hardware based firewall solution or a software firewall application, take steps to safeguard your business today. Contact us today for a free network health audit. Your network is the backbone of your business. Our team will make sure it’s always up and running when you need it.

By | 2017-05-30T10:59:32+00:00 April 26th, 2017|IT Services|0 Comments

Ransomware: Keep Your Employees Safe and Your Business Secure

ransom-note-fonts Did you know $209 million was paid to ransomware criminals in Q1 2016?

A ransomware attack is scary when it occurs. There is little that can be done to stop a ransomware attack that is in progress. The easiest way to mitigate the damage that can be done is preventative care. First, it is important to know what Ransomware is and how it’s spread. Also, you need to know how to prevent Ransomware and how to tell if your system has been compromised.

What is Ransomware?

At this point, you may be asking “What is Ransomware?” Ransomware is a computer malware virus that installs covertly on a computer or smartphone. Pretty stealthy huh? Next, the virus executes a crypto viral extortion attack that ultimately holds your data hostage. Or it mounts a crypto virology leak ware attack that may threaten to publish your data until a ransom is paid. Hence the name “Ransomware”. Ransomware attacks have grown exponentially over the years. As a matter of fact, expert sources have collected over 250,000 unique samples of ransomware in the first quarter of 2013 alone.

Suffice it to say if you are a business you need to know how to protect your sensitive data and keep your business running smoothly.

How Ransomware Spreads

Ransomware is generally spread through trickery. This could be in the form of malicious email attachments from unknown sources. Clicking on a malicious link within an email or from a social networking site could potentially contain ransomware. Ransomware can also spread by an infection from installing software packages from unofficial software websites. They are advertised as updates for Adobe Acrobat, Java and Flash Player normally. Ransomware affects computer systems at the local level. Once ransomware infects the computer system the malware finds files like JPG, XLS, PNG and PPT file extensions. After the hacker encrypts the file the malware tells you that your data is being held for a ransom. The virus will then prompt you to make a payment and receive an encryption key to gain access. Studies show that many people have paid the ransom since the files tend to be too important to give up.

Key Takeaway on How to Prevent Ransomware

It is best to be proactive against ransomware since there isn’t much you can do once your files get encrypted.

Install Anti-Virus Software

It is critical to have adequate Anti-Virus software installed and always up to date. Anti-Virus is only as good as long as it is kept up to date since ransomware is always evolving and becoming more complex. Anti-Virus software continuously checks against the database so it is mission critical that it updates daily to check for new virus signatures.

Avoid Sketchy Downloads

Next, it is important to only download software from trusted sites. Also, be wary of sites that tell you software on your computer is outdated. Websites don’t have the ability to detect outdated software unless you give a website permission to read your hard drive. If your software ever needs an update always go to the official website.

Keep Backups of Your Files

At Beacon IT Services we require server backups for all our clients we manage. Hackers know that most individuals or smaller businesses don’t tend to keep backups of their files. Don’t be caught in this category be proactive and keep backups of your files.

Key Takeaway

The key takeaway to preventing a ransomware attack is to be proactive rather than reactive. The number one way to deal with ransomware is to be conscious of websites you are visiting and the types of content you are downloading. Keep your computer’s anti-virus software up to date and always keep backups of your businesses files.

Learn how we can help you stay safe from ransomware attacks today!

By | 2017-03-17T06:47:43+00:00 March 17th, 2017|IT Services|0 Comments
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