Business Owners: Prevent a Colossal Mistake With These Simple Actions

The recent Equifax security breach has been making headlines due to the scope and potential consequences of leaked data of 145.5 million affected people. Yet, your company can learn a lesson from this recent catastrophe. One of the early finds regarding the Equifax situation was that it was caused, in large part, by someone in the company failing to patch a bug in software that sat there, waiting to be exploited, for two months. If you run a business with sensitive consumer data, you should learn a lesson from this incident.

Person using laptopYou, as a business owner, may not be dealing with 145 million customer accounts, but you, like us, rely upon keeping your customers’ information secure and private. This is why you need the peace of mind of regular maintenance.

Keep Your Systems Updated:

Equifax admitted its lack of security updates left a wide open hole for information to be stolen. “Upon discovering  a vulnerability in the Apache Struts web application framework as the initial attack vector, Equifax patched the affected web application before bringing it back online,” read a statement. However, the vulnerability was discovered in March, and Equifax’ systems were breached in May.

For a small business, be sure to keep your operating system up to date. If you’re running Windows, be sure to keep the version up to date as well. Microsoft has ended support for Windows Vista and earlier, with only limited support for Windows 7, which is incompatible with some modern chips and software. If you are able to, moving to Windows 10 will keep things completely up to date and at the same pace across all of your machines.

If you run a Mac, you too should keep your systems updated as, despite clichés, Macs are not insulated from vulnerabilities.

Keep Strong Security:

In addition to keeping things up to date, it’s important to keep running strong security applications. We help our customers navigate through the options out there. Some sound too good to be true, and often are. Still, some, like CCleaner, that we do continue to recommend, have also been subject to exploits just this year. It makes the case that having strong security and protections on multiple levels is important.

Keep Regular Backups:

Should your system or protections come under threat, it is vital to keep regular backups of your valuable data. We can help you set up backups and choose which backup options fit your needs and budget. There are varieties within types of backup options and differences between PC and Mac. Let us help you out whether you choose an external drive, the cloud, or a combination of options.

Keep Your Computers Running Smoothly:

Finally, do not underestimate the need to keep your computers tuned up and running smoothly. Most computers in regular use will begin to see normal wear and tear long before problems arise that we can notice. Having scheduled computer maintenance for your business can keep things running smoothly and last longer, saving you time and money.

For a free phone consultation with no obligation to contract service, call us! 212-682-6878 or 718-459-9477

With this malware, your data is gone forever. Prevent it!

Image via Kaspersky Lab

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.

Beware: This OSX Malware Will Steal Your Private Information

(Image: MalwareBytes)

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.

4 Simple Steps to a Faster Computer

A computer’s processing speed is determined first and foremost by its hardware capabilities.

Nevertheless, over time, computers can slow down—and this sluggishness can often be attributed to software issues. There are some steps that you can take to help you identify why your computer’s performance is slowing down and to keep your computer running faster and smoother.

1. Check for spyware, malware, and viruses. This is something that we recommend you do regularly. Not only is your computer at risk, but your personal information is as well. These malicious little buggers can affect how well—and how fast—computers perform. Installing the latest updates to your antivirus software will go a long way towards keeping your computer safe from harm, but when in doubt, a more thorough professional diagnosis may be necessary.

2. Defrag your hard drive. Over time, hard drives become fragmented. Fragmentation slows down the computer’s overall performance, since opening fragmented files means piecing together those fragments first—and saving those files becomes similarly slower and more complicated as well. There are software programs available that can defragment your hard disc and restore those fragmented files. Many of these programs can be set to run automatically on a regular basis. Defragmenting is standard procedure these days, and highly recommended for maintaining your file systems. It doesn’t take too long, and you’ll likely be amazed at the difference in speed afterwards!

3. Free up space on your hard drive. In short, the more space available on your hard drive, the faster the processing time. Get rid of temporary files and paging files, Java applets, and any installed software programs that you don’t need or use. Older files that you don’t need as often can be moved to an external hard drive and backed up on CD or DVD. (And in any case, you should always be sure to back up your files to an external hard drive or other media.) Also, don’t forget to empty the Trash or Recycle Bin—otherwise, all of those files will still be on your computer, taking up space.

4. Add more RAM. Adding a gigabyte or two of RAM (random access memory) can give your computer a second wind and is considered a cost-effective investment. The more RAM on your computer, the faster you can access your data, since the data doesn’t need to be continuously read off the hard drive. However, since the installation involves messing with the hardware a little, and it’s easy to get confused when choosing between different types of RAM, it’s best to leave the installation to an expert or repair person.

Taking these steps should help keep your computer processing time as fast as it was when you first got it. If your computer continues to act slow, consult a computer repair person.