Ransomware

locked-computer-cartoonIn an ideal world, all people would be informed, intelligent, and there would be no sociopaths. But in reality computer users are not normally technically adept: to them their computer is just a thing they use to get work done or for entertainment, and they treat it like a radio, television, or coffee maker. In a real work environment, until something really bad happens, people use Windows XP ten years after Microsoft stopped supporting it, never apply updates as ‘they are too annoying’ and ‘people are busy’, and they click on everything just to see what happens. This naivety makes most people in most businesses an easy target for sociopaths looking for fun and profit.

These two articles came in today from Information Week’s Dark Reading, an eMag that deals with cyber security issues. The first is a case where a business (racing team) was attacked and surrendered to cyber sociopaths in April 2016 and the next is advice on how to protect your business from a similar experience.

NASCAR Race Team Learns Ransomware Lesson The Hard Way

Here’s How To Protect Against A Ransomware Attack

These criminals exist because of other people’s laziness. If you are still using Windows XP and spreading spam and viruses all over the place please man up enough to be socially responsible for the effect of your computing on the rest of us:

  1. Replace your obsolete XP computers with Windows 10, if not Linux or Apple Macs.
  2. Install anti-virus software – Windows Defender is FREE from Microsoft. Symantec, Kapersky, McAfee, Avast, AVG, and others can be had for a price of about $50 per year or for personal use sometimes free.
  3. Keep your systems fully patched, even if you are impatient because it takes two minutes to download and apply the updates.
  4. Let the large corporations, such as Microsoft and Google, handle scanning your email by using web mail instead of installing an email program on your computer. (1)
  5. Prevent trojan links from working by blocking them. Install a real firewall. Use CISCO’s OpenDNS instead of the default DNS servers that your ISP provides. (2)
  6. And back up your files. (3)

But please don’t be the next business that rewards and encourages these sociopaths by providing them with more easy profit.


Footnotes:

1. This comes with business grade cloud services, such as Google Mail and Microsoft Office 365. Currently most malware initially enters a facility via a link on email that runs automatically when the email is read or when the user clicks. The trojan link downloads and installs the malware. Let the pros scan and destroy such email before it ever enters your facility by using email cloud services that scan every email for you before you ever see them.

2. Web services rely on DNS (Domain Name Services) servers to translate the human readable domain names into a computer address. OpenDNS allows you to block addresses that you do not want inside your facility according to their web content. For example, using the simple list, by clicking little check boxes, you can choose to block ads, malware, pornography, social networks, or on-line gaming while allowing everything else to go through. OpenDNS is supported globally by volunteers who donate their time to identify web servers according to their content. In this rapidly changing webscape no corporation can possibly hire enough people to be as effective as many thousands or millions of volunteers daily contributing.

3. Microsoft Office 365 can be had for $5/month for full business grade services, including cloud storage services that can auto-magically back up your files. Google Drive is free. LockBox and a bunch of other cloud services already exist. Or use a $6 memory stick. You can even buy a little fixed disk that just plugs into your computer’s USB port so you can click-drag your files onto it  then unplug it and put it in your safe.

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