It seems like every other week these days, the news carries mentions of ransomware or malware unleashed to hold unsuspecting people and businesses’ information for, as the name indicates, ransom. It is a lucrative and growing form of theft, with a surge of 167 times more ransomware in 2016 than in 2015. Yet, this week, what was first thought to be the latest ransomware attack was something intended to be much worse.
The havoc caused this week by the infection known as Petya/ExPetr acted like ransomware at first look –it would pop up and lock data behind a fake screen demanding money for a code to unlock the data and break the encryption. However, there were holes in the way it operated, and experts quickly realized after analysis that the codes customers had paid for were useless. This malware attack wasn’t to ransom data –it was to destroy it. The alleged unlock codes were just random characters that failed to decrypt anything. It wasn’t spread to make anyone money. Experts are calling it a “wiper”. Data on infected systems is lost forever.
The list of infected people and businesses grew rapidly, but security firms also jumped right into action. There are ways to catch a potential infection and stop it.
We’ve long been advocates of staying on top of security and protecting your data. Maintenance is one of the many services we provide, and we understand that losing access to everything on your computer or even an entire office network, could be a devastating and costly process to address. That is the case even when the data that has been encrypted or infected can be cleaned up and restored. In the case of this latest round, that data is simply lost, the extent of which is unknown just yet.
Imagine if your data was suddenly lost forever. We’re often able to recover data due to drive failure, erasure, or common malware infection, but this is worse.
And it’s preventable! Be proactive and save yourself the trouble by contacting us. We’ll set up options to meet your needs, from data backups, top of the line anti-malware and virus protection, to regular maintenance.
As a local computer repair business, we rely on earning our customers’ trust and word of mouth through delivering high quality work. However, as an independent service company repairing both Apple computers and PCs across all brands, we do business in a market that has seen pushback from companies intended to preserve their services and accessories as the only way to fix your devices. However, 11 states, including New York, have bills known as “Right to Repair” (New York’s official bill is called the Fair Repair Act) which, if passed, allow for independent businesses (like us) to repair devices and obtain parts and official documentation more easily.
Requires manufacturers of digital electronic parts to offer for sale diagnostic and repair information in the same manner as such manufacturer provides such diagnostic and repair information to such manufacturer’s repair channel
In other words, this legislation is aimed at expanding consumer choice and letting independent businesses offer a fuller range of options for customers.
A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 30th also gives hope for changes. In the decision, passed 7-1, the printer company Lexmark lost its case against a small printer ink business, Impression, that was selling refilled ink cartridges at lower cost. The Court decided that once a consumer purchases a device, that consumer doesn’t have to be beholden to one single manufacturer for official supplies or repair. It is of note that Lexmark is one of the companies—including Apple, Verizon, and Toyota—actively lobbying against Right to Repair in New York. It remains to be seen just what effect the Court decision has on consumer options, but as a repair business responsible for fixing many computers over our 35 year history, we welcome more options through which to continue delivering high quality service and options.
There’s a new malware attack seriously infecting computers and stealing data, but the most surprising part of it might be that the targets are Mac computers running OSX. While Apple has taken measures to prevent attacks from the malware, known as OSX.Dok, some users may have already allowed it to live on their machines. OSX.Dok will continuously infect the computer it is installed on every time the computer reboots.
OSX.Dok is unique in that it has been called “the first major scale malware to target OS X users via a coordinated email phishing campaign” by Check Point . It’s true that malware and phishing attacks like this are usually more apt to snare PC users, but this one is one you should pay attention to. Do not click or download any strange attachment or files, and be on the lookout for a .zip file called Dokument.zip.
If you’re infected, you may find fullscreen, but fake messages being displayed that there are OSX updates to be installed, and it requests your password. Do not enter any information if you see one of these screens appear.
Doing so would give the malware administrative privileges, install it on your system, and then be able to steal your data. It could also potentially steal any saved passwords, financial information, or any other sensitive or personal information on your computer.
Mac OS may often be safer from phishing and malware attacks, but this shows that it is definitely not impossible to infect one. Although this attack seems to primarily target European users, with global reach, email could have sent this anywhere.
Apple’s response has been to revoke the privileges of a certificate that has been potentially hijacked to serve as an agent facilitating this malware, so it will likely now be rejected if you aren’t careful and it finds its way to your inbox. If you are infected, contact a trusted computer repair professional, who will be able to remove this malicious software and restore your computer to working order quickly.
Nothing makes us sadder than when drives crash and people lose their important data. Data recovery is often possible, but it can take time and expertise, and be quite expensive. The good thing is that data loss can be prevented.
Don’t let data loss happen to you! We can help you with both data recovery and creating backups. Here are some tips for you – our Six Dos and Don’ts of backing up your data:
We’ve had a few customers come to us with similar situations recently. Their computers were showing signs of slowdown, sometimes sluggishness, and occasionally, their systems were in a bit more trouble than that– computers that wouldn’t turn on or were experiencing sudden shutdowns.
We opened up one case and found a ton of dust inside (see photos with this post – and this was after initial dusting). The dust combined with a lack of air circulation to go and fry the video card. Too much heat inside your computer is going to lead to problems eventually. There is a limited amount of space in the case, so making sure the fans have room to circulate the air and cool your system is important. So, too, is regular cleaning and maintenance. Dusting your computer helps it run better in the long run. Investing in a couple of cans of compressed air to dust out the fans now and then is the least you can do.
In another case, a customer who used his laptop for gaming came to us with slow computer problems. The games he enjoyed playing were rather resource intensive, and many laptops not specified for gaming purposes might chug when trying to play them. Gaming on laptops is possible, but again, heating can be a real danger when it comes to running programs that demand a lot from your system. After cleaning out this customer’s computer and performance testing everything with games and programs running, temperatures were mostly within a workable range. We suggested that the customer buy a cooling pad for laptops. Not only do cooling pads help reduce temperatures, they tend to elevate a laptop a little bit, which makes it easier for air to circulate out of the vents and below the computer. By not resting the laptop on a desk or table itself, the air can get out and disperse, letting the additional fans help prevent issues. What’s more, they begin at under $20, so it can be an affordable way to keep your hardware healthy if you use your laptop for gaming or other intensive work, like video editing.
Keeping an eye on the temperature during all your most common activities on your computer will help too, because it will give you an idea of what is normal for each demand you place on your system and alert you if excessive heat starts to become a pattern. This can help you notice heating occur before it causes any obvious problems. If you can investigate the cause and find out how to stop overheating early enough, it might spare your system repairs later.
Of course, you can invest in regular computer maintenance from a shop you trust to keep things running smoothly. We are happy to provide maintenance services for all computer models. Call us for a free, no obligation phone consultation.