N-Line Technologies takes a probing look at how Microsoft Office 365 addresses the cyber-security concerns of small business owners like Bryce McDonald, whose company, Day1 Wake, delivers wakesurf boards to customers across the country. Bryce knows that, wherever he goes, Office 365 multi-layer security is working 24/7 to safeguard the integrity of his business data. Contact us–we’d love to show you how Office 365 can do the same for businesses in Midland, Odessa, and the Permian Basin.
Let’s face it getting hit with a ransomware attack just plain sucks, your files get encrypted by cybercriminals and are held hostage. You are then left having to decide: should we pay to get them back? Sadly, this is a scene that’s played out across the world with 70% of businesses saying ‘yes’ in 2016 alone. Here’s what you should consider if you’re ever in this situation.
Do you trust them?
We have all seen the TV shows where the rich guy’s son or daughter is kidnapped and when they pay the ransom the kidnappers take the money and kill the kid. This situation is no different. The cold fact is that they’re criminals holding your data hostage, how confident are you that they’ll send the decryption key after you pay up? Most attackers demand you send the payment via untraceable Bitcoin, so you can do nothing if they take the money and run. You’re also equally trapped if they decide they asked too little and come back with increasingly higher demands. If they do send the decryption key, be aware they still have access to your systems and can hit you again at any time until your network is disinfected by experts. Businesses don’t exactly want the embarrassment of a breach publicized either, so many don’t admit to paying the ransom, whether it went to plan or otherwise.
Can you manage the impact?
In the best-case scenario, you can wipe the affected drives and restore from a clean backup without paying the ransom. You might even decide the encrypted files aren’t that important and simply let them go, or even wipe a whole laptop or workstation. On the other hand, if your data management comes under any special regulations, like health or legal, you may find the attack has a much wider, more intense impact. The attacker will usually give you a countdown to motivate a payment, with a threat of deletion when it hits zero. If the data isn’t that valuable, or you have confirmed backups, this urgency has no effect. There are also new types of ransomware like “KillDisk” which can permanently wipe your entire hard drive or even your entire network.
How much do they want?
Cybercriminals rarely send out global attacks with set amounts, instead, they prefer to customize the ransom based on how much they think you can pay. Large corporations and hospitals are hit with very high demands, while small business demands are more modest. They may be criminals, but they’re smart people who know your financial limits. They’ll also consider how much similar businesses have paid and how quickly, then expect you to follow suit.
Are your backups good?
Many businesses are discovering too late that their backup systems aren’t good enough to withstand this kind of attack. Often the backups themselves become infected too, they weren’t up-to-date or they backed up the wrong data. OUCH. It’s worth doing some quick checks on your backup processes because even if you must shut down the system for a day so you can recover, you’re still light years ahead of those without them.
What’s your policy?
More and more often, businesses are adding ransomware to their disaster recovery plans and having predefined actions mapped out. Seemingly simple inclusions like who has final say over the payment decision can stop this chaos in its tracks. Employees and management alike can then approach the situation calmly, ready to make the best decisions for the business.
Stay safe in the first place
Ransomware is just plain evil and it is showing no signs of slowing down. There is just too much easy money for the crooks. As more businesses keep them funded the cybercriminals are steadily launching new attacks and making it their full-time job. Most attacks come via phishing emails – those emails that trick employees into clicking a link – and they can be extremely convincing. While training helps people spot them, it’s no guarantee. We recommend using business-class spam filters, such as our excellent “N-Line Spam Control” Product, to catch these types of emails before they land in your employee inboxes. You want that ransomware attack be something that happens to other businesses, not yours.
N-Line Technologies can help you secure your data systems now!
Call us at 432-279-0671
We proudly service Midland and Odessa Texas and the Permian Basin area.
Contact us today!
Take a step toward cyber safety! Here’s a collection of tools, services, and other solutions to secure your business and prevent cyber attacks.
N-Line Technologies helps many businesses with these products and many more. We proudly service Midland, Odessa, and the Permian Basin.
Small business owners who use technology have an edge. I found this great list of tips. These small business technology ideas will get you started on the path to productivity.
That’s no secret, but it doesn’t quite capture the whole experience…you arrive to work in the morning, grab your coffee knowing you’ve got a hectic day ahead, and are ready to dive in.For some reason, the computer can’t access the database and neither can anyone else’s. You restart the server while fielding calls left, right and center, but are unable to answer any client queries. Your hands are completely tied…and now the server is beeping furiously…what’s going on??!
You’re not just in crisis mode, you’re on damage control as you call every tech you can think of, trying to find one who can come NOW.
Not exactly the day you had planned.
The Break/Fix Days Are Gone
Previously, businesses only addressed their IT needs when something broke. A few hours down meant little in the scope of things. In today’s fast world, businesses rely heavily on IT and downtime just isn’t an option. Even the legalities of simply restoring financial, legal or medical files after a breach raises issues.
How Can Managed Services Help?
The cost of break/fix is now too high, both financially and emotionally.
Simply put, your IT services are remotely monitored and proactively managed by a professional, external business. Your Managed Service Provider (MSP) runs regular diagnostics on equipment to identify impending failure and resolves problems before they happen.
Benefits of Managed services
Small to medium businesses in particular benefit from managed services, because they don’t usually have an on-site technician to oversee the multiple systems in use. By subscribing to a managed service provider, businesses can have reduced labor costs, access to a knowledge base, future-pacing, better data security and reduced downtime. Businesses can also know exactly what their upcoming costs are and plan accordingly.
Some of the managed services we can provide are:
- Remote support – This allows us to help you quickly without needing to be on-site.
- Hardware Monitoring – We monitor your servers and workstations to catch hardware failures before they happen.
- Managed anti-virus – We make sure your anti-virus is up to date and take immediate action if an infection occurs.
- Patch management – We make sure your computer’s operating system is up to date, closing access to known vulnerabilities as soon as possible.
How much downtime can your business afford?
N-Line Technologies has very affordable plans to monitor and protect your network.
We are your IT department protecting your bottom line.
CLICK HERE or call 432-279-0671
By now you know that the cloud isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, cloud computing has become a natural step in business growth, thanks to the numerous (and continually growing) benefits. More and more applications are coming out in web-based form and staff are exceptionally comfortable with this type of change. So when is the right time to move your business computing to the cloud?
Many businesses are facing this question now that cloud computing has become a mainstream norm. After all, you’ll be able to roll out new apps in days, not weeks, and nobody ever says ‘no thanks’ to increased security and efficiency. Like any strategic business decision though, timing is everything. Here’s how to assess your need before you make the switch:
Age of servers and workstations
If your workstations and servers are reaching their end of life and a large capital investment is coming up, you’ll be able to minimize the expense by moving to the cloud. You may even be able to skip certain upgrades completely. Your staff will still need devices to access the cloud data, but you’ll have a lot more flexibility in your choice and they won’t need to be as powerful. This can be a huge cost saving made in just moments.
Need for remote and mobile access
Many businesses are growing while on the move, with a mobile workforce needing to access files from anywhere at any time. This could range from moving around the one location, between offices or even working from home. Forget frustrating connections and lost productivity, cloud computing allows staff to work securely and efficiently from any location with internet access.
Current support setup
If your business currently outsources all your network management, you’re perfectly suited for the move to cloud computing. Network maintenance and monitoring becomes a non-issue, handled 24/7 as part of your cloud service. Network efficiency just keeps rising too, as your cloud provider is always improving their systems. You’ll find problems are fixed before you knew they existed, and server downtime becomes a thing of the past.
Need for predictable IT costs
If it feels like IT costs can spiral out of control at times, challenging your budget and patience, cloud computing will seem like a dream come true. When you make this shift, you’re moving from a capital expense to an operational one – server and system replacements are no longer your concern. You’ll be able to budget for IT costs in advance, knowing no blowouts are hiding around the corner. Monthly costs are known and (usually) capped based on what you use, leaving your cash flow much relieved.
Today’s cloud computing is more advanced, secure and priced more competitively than ever before. At its core, cloud computing is purely about doing things better, and it can have a massive impact on your profits, productivity and even staff satisfaction rates. If your business requires a robust, always available infrastructure with easy monthly costs, it’s time to take a serious look at your cloud computing options.
We offer a variety of cloud services to help your business. Contact Us or give us a call at 432-279-0671 to discuss how we can improve your business IT.
On June 27, 2017, the “Petya” ransomware strain began spreading widely impacting a large number of organizations, particularly in Europe.
Petya ransomware encrypts the master boot records of infected Windows computers, making affected machines unusable. Open-source reports indicate that the ransomware exploits vulnerabilities in Server Message Block (SMB). It has two layers of encryption: one that individually encrypts target files on the computer and another one that encrypts NTFS structures. This approach prevents victims’ computers from being booted up in a live OS environment and retrieving stored information or samples. Additionally, after the encryption process is complete, the ransomware has a specialized routine that forcefully crashes the computer to trigger a reboot that renders the computer unusable until a $300 ransom is paid.
N-Line Managed Antivirus protects you against this virus attack. For those of you not subscribed to our Antivirus product, you should update your Antivirus immediately and run Windows Update to make sure your system is fully patched and thus protected against the SMB fault that this virus exploits.
If you need assistance please contact us or call 432-279-0671
There has been a ton of talk about the cloud. Cloud this, cloud that. But what actually IS the cloud? It’s okay if you don’t know, most people don’t understand it and even some tech people tend to wave their hands towards the sky when trying to explain it!
Since it actually has nothing to do with the white fluffy things in the sky, let’s lay it all out:
Cloud computing is about storing and retrieving your data (personal or business) within your own piece of the internet. It’s so you can access it from anywhere, just like you do a web page, and it won’t matter if your office is closed and you’re squeezing in a little work on your phone at midnight. Everything will be saved and ready to pick up when you get back to your desk. Colleagues in different locations can even collaborate on documents in real time.
If that all sounds a bit futuristic, think about how an email service like Gmail works. None of your emails are actually being stored on your hard drive or device, they’re stored on the Gmail server and you can access them anytime you like.
Your read/send/receive changes are applied instantly, remembered for next time you log in. This is a form of cloud computing. So is Netflix, where you can stream movies and TV shows on demand. All the video is actually stored on a computer somewhere else in the world and sent to your device in tiny pieces as you watch it. Netflix remembers what you watched, where you got up to, and even if you’re hopping immediately from one device to another, it still has it all ready to go.
Where is ‘cloud’ data stored?
Good question. And it’s why the term ‘cloud’ causes so much confusion. The data absolutely must be physically stored somewhere. Companies who offer cloud storage have huge warehouses dedicated to holding servers whose sole job is to send and receive data all day. And by huge, we mean HUGE.
You could get lost walking the rows of servers, just box after box for what seems like forever. The biggest server farms or ‘cloud campuses’ are still growing, but to give you an idea: they can be upwards of one million square feet. It’s big business, literally.
In terms of location, the US and UK are popular server farm locations, but the company could also have copies of your data stored elsewhere in the world. This is so they can fulfill their redundancy guarantees – if disaster hits one location, the other still has a copy.
Having additional locations and copies also increases the speed of access. With some companies, you can choose your preferred location so that data doesn’t have to travel quite as far across the world, increasing speed even further, which of course, saves time and money. Collaboration, security, redundancy, AND savings? We’d call that a win.
Ready to take advantage of cloud computing? Give us a call at 432-279-0671.
WannaCry Ransomware Explained: Is Your Business At Risk?
You’d be hard-pressed to miss May’s biggest headline, the WannaCry cyber-attack sent shockwaves around the globe. Businesses of all sizes and even police departments found themselves crippled without warning.
Among the most prominent victims were many NHS hospitals in the UK, affecting up to 70,000 individual devices such as essential MRI scanners and blood-storage refrigerators. But by the time it hit the news, it was too late – either your system was protected, or it was infected. Here’s how it all went so wrong.
What is WannaCry?
The WannaCry cyber-attack was a type of malware (the collective name for computer viruses & bad juju) called ‘ransomware’. Just like the name suggests, it’s actually a demand for money. Like all ransomware attacks, WannaCry encrypts your files and holds them hostage until you pay. In this case, the price was set at $300, payable with internet currency Bitcoin, and you had 3 days to pay before it doubled. If you didn’t pay, the ransomware threatened to delete your files permanently. It’s yet unknown how much money the WannaCry hackers have earned with their latest attack, but you can be sure plenty of people have paid the ransom. Even the FBI recommends paying the ransom, especially if the ransomed files are of a sensitive nature or weren’t backed up.
How It Spread So Fast
It seems WannaCry may be a ‘computer worm’ that self-replicates and spreads, rather than a phishing attack that needs to be activated with a click. So far, no common trigger has been identified, as is normally the case with phishing links. WannaCry moved rapidly from system to system, spreading out through the entire network, including all connected backups and storage devices. At the same time, it spread out to infect other networks, who then spread it further, and so on. Given the nature of the internet, it was everywhere within hours.
Why Some Businesses Were Safe
WannaCry could ONLY infect systems that have fallen 2 months behind in their Windows updates. This is because it was created to take advantage of a specific vulnerability in Windows, one which Microsoft patched months ago. Without that patch, the ransomware could waltz right past the firewall, past the anti-virus and directly into the system (the NHS were reportedly running Windows XP – no longer supported). Those running Windows 10 or a fully patched, recent version of Windows were completely unaffected – the virus literally had no way in
It just goes to show the importance of staying up to date. We haven’t seen a second spike in WannaCry attacks yet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one. A quick update could protect your business from weeks of downtime and lost revenue, making attacks like this a non-issue.
With our managed services, we can make sure you stay up to date – and protected. Give us a call today at 432-279-0671.