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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Malware 0101

According to Kapersky Labs, more than 33 percent of malware attacks cost businesses their hard-earned money. That amounts to billions of dollars in lost business revenue, downtime and repair costs that are attributed to malware infections every year. 

What is Malware?

Malware exists in several forms: including viruses, ransomware, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, keyloggers, dialers, spyware, adware, malicious browser helper objects, and rogue security software that either presents itself as your antivirus control, or disables your antivirus software. Malware has three potential objectives: destruction
of data, data collection and transmission, or nuisance and interruption.

Recently, the CryptoLocker Virus, a type of ransomware, has been in the news. This virus installs itself on your computer and encrypts your files so you can’t access them without the proper key. Then, a payment screen pops up, asking you to pay a ransom of $300 for the ‘key’ to decrypt your files! For more information about the CryptoLocker Virus, go to

8 Malware Prevention Best Practices

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of backing up your important data.
  2. Install a firewall, if you don’t already use one, as the first line of defense against inbound attacks.
  3. Make sure you are using good antivirus software that is constantly updated.
  4. Keep your operating system (e.g. Windows) updated with current security updates and patches. Did you know XP is going “End of Life”?
  5. Use a more secure web browser (Windows Explorer is the most exploited).
  6. Use caution when downloading files from the internet- especially browser add-ons and screensavers.
  7. Don’t open email attachments or click links unless you know what they are.
  8. Never send personal information through an email, even if it looks like it is from a trusted source. You risk identifying yourself as a target

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Is your organization prepared for Windows XP end-of-life?

Support for Windows XP ends on April 8, 2014.

If you have PCs running XP, you will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. This ends all security updates, hotfixes, driver updates and support. Running Windows XP in your environment after the end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal your business information.

An analysis by International Data Corporation revealed that supporting older Windows XP installations, compared with a modern Windows 7–based solution, burdens organizations with a dramatically higher cost. Annual cost per PC per year for Windows XP is $870, while a comparable Windows 7 installation costs $168 per PC per year. That is an incremental $701 per PC per year for IT and end-user labor costs.

You may be thinking, “But, Windows XP works great for us and we have no hardware issues with our computers, so why should we switch?”

Think about this… On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will release the last batch of XP patches and explanations of what they fix. A few days after that, virus writers will have deconstructed these patches and discovered the underlying security holes.  Then, they release their viruses, ransomware, adware, etc.  The next day, thousands of computers may be infected by the malware, and even if it is removed and all normal precautions are taken, this virus will infect the computers again and again while the Windows XP PC is being used to access the internet.

Organizations that continue to retain a Windows XP environment are not only leaving themselves exposed to security risks and support challenges, but also are wasting budget dollars that would be better used in modernizing their IT investments. If your organization is bound by regulatory compliance policies, like HIPAA or GLBA, the end of life for XP is of particular concern. Keeping XP systems in production that are no longer receiving security updates leaves you at risk for failed audits and susceptible to fines due to non-compliance. Many options exist for businesses considering moving to newer PC operating systems.

To understand the best options for your organization, you need a Microsoft Partner who will assess your business needs. BizTech will come to your place of business, assess your PC Network, and you will receive a customized Assessment Report — complete with your organization’s needs and best options to keep your business running smoothly.

Call BizTech at 800.804.4715 to discuss or schedule your assessment.

Friday, November 8, 2013

CryptoLocker Virus holds your important files for ransom

Have you heard of the CryptoLocker Virus yet? If not, be sure to read on!

The CryptoLocker Virus is a form of 'ransomware;' which is a type of malware which restricts access to the Microsoft Windows-running computer that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed.

In the case of the CryptoLocker Virus, it doesn't just restrict access to the computer system. Once downloaded, this ransomware installs itself in your 'Documents and Settings' folder. It then scans the hard drive for different file types- including .doc, .xls, .ppt, .pst, .dwg, .rtf, .dbf, .psd .jpg, .raw, and .pdf- and then encrypts them (makes it so you cannot access them without the proper key).

After encrypting your files, it displays a CryptoLocker payment screen that tells you to send a ransom of usually $300 in order to decrypt the files. This screen will also display a timer stating that you have around 100 hours to pay the ransom or it will delete your key and you will not have any way to get your files back! This ransom must be paid using MoneyPak vouchers or Bitcoins. Once you send the payment and it is verified, the program will decrypt the files that it encrypted.

How can my computer can get infected by CryptoLocker?
1) Via an email attachment- usually looks like an email from a respected company like BBB or FedEx, UPS. For example, you receive a tracking email from a shipping company you do business with. Attached to the email is a .zip file. Opening the attachment launches a virus that finds and encrypts all files you have access to — including those located on any attached drives or mapped network drives.

2) You browse a malicious website that exploits vulnerabilities in an out-of-date version of Java.

3) You’re tricked into downloading a malicious video driver or codec file.

What should I do when I discover my computer is infected with CryptoLocker?
When you discover that your computer is infected with CryptoLocker, the first thing you should do is disconnect it from your wireless or wired network. This will prevent it from further encrypting any files. Some people have reported that once the network connection is disconnected, it will display the CryptoLocker screen.

How do I remove the virus from my computer?
Your antivirus software may remove the virus, however, your files will still be encrypted. Recent versions of CryptoLocker will now set your Windows wallpaper to a message that contains a link to a decryption tool that you can download in case this happens. In some cases, people have resorted to paying the ransom to retrieve their files. Some did receive the key and regained access to their files, but this is a very risky option. Your best bet is to recover your system from a previous system backup.

How can I prevent the CryptoLocker Virus from infecting my computer?
1)If you get any emails with suspicious attachments, DO NOT open the attachments or click any links in the email messages. 

2)Steer clear of any suspicious websites. Especially ones that may ask you to download a Java update.

3)Make sure you keep complete and recent backups of your system. If you have a small business with networked PCs, you should have automated workstation backups enabled, in addition to server backups.

4)Implement Windows’ Software Restriction Policies rule. This can block CryptoLocker from launching its payload in your computer system. If you need help implementing, contact a BizTech Solution Advisor at 419.539.6922 or via email for more information about this method.
We know your files are important and, very likely, essential to your business. Don't hesitate to call or email us for more information about this virus and how to prevent this, and other disasters from affecting your data.

*Information gathered from our Techs and