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Over the past few months we have had a few clients come to us with the same problem, their computer is locked and they can no longer access their important files or applications. Databranch has been able to help all but one recover their systems. The difference between the clients we could help and the one we could not is backup. This is why we emphasize the move to business continuity and our preferred solution, Datto, to all customers and prospects. It’s that important. When we have succeeded against this newest strain of malware, the victims have all had a recent, comprehensive backup to restore from.Below I will breakdown what ransomware is, ways to prevent it, and how to take back your computer if you happen to be hit.

What is Ransomware?

  • Malicious software (Malware) that infects your computer and restricts access until you pay a ransom to unlock it.
  • Common strains are CryptoLocker and CryptoWall

Signs That Your System has Been Infected

  • Any prompt asking you to pay money to decrypt your files. One common reason the attackers give for locking your machine is that you have done an illegal activity on your PC and are being fined by your local police force or the federal government. Always remember that these are false claims attempting to scare you into paying the ransom and that reputable organizations would never work in this manner.
  • Increase in pop-ups especially concerning your anti-virus or memory usage.
  • Sudden changes in your computer speed. If you turn on your computer one morning and it’s running much slower than the day before you should investigate what’s causing the changes.

Should I Pay the Ransom?

  • NO – There is no guarantee that paying the ransom will make the criminals hand over the key to your files and by paying you may be allowing them to gain greater access to your system and strengthen their attack.

How Can I Prevent Ransomware?

  • Have a business-class anti-virus installed and performing regular updates on your server and computers. We recommend Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud Edition.
  • Keep all software up to date. Applying updates as soon as they become available is imperative to keeping the bad guys out. When you wait because you’re too busy or don’t want to deal with possible changes or a computer restart, you leave your network exposed because the most common reason patches are released is to fix security flaws in your programs.
  • Make sure your business has a firewall installed on your network and that it is turned on at all times. Having a firewall defending your network is a great first step to block out hackers and viruses. (Want Databranch to manage your anti-virus, Windows updates, and firewall? Click here to learn about our managed service offerings!)
  • Avoid clicking on any links or attachments from unknown senders. If you receive an email from someone you know and regularly communicate with and it looks suspicious, trust your gut and reach out to the sender before opening anything from them.
  • Be wary about what websites you visit and what software you download. Recently, ransomware has been found in advertisements on popular sites like Yahoo and oftentimes the “free” software you find online is riddled with malware.
  • Prepare for the worst and implement a backup solution that stores your data off-site and is not directly attached to your device. Click here to learn more about Databranch’s recommended backup solution.

My System has Been Infected! What Should I Do?

  1. Turn off your computer
  2. Disconnect your computer from the network.
  3. Contact Databranch or your IT service provider. Ransomware is continually evolving and becoming more destructive. Databranch can help remove the malware from your system and restore your data from your most recent backup.

Have you experienced a ransomware attack? Share your story or ask any questions in the comments below!

Request your free security risk assessment and consultation with a Databranch Security Expert here:

If you are still using Symantec Backup Exec.cloud for your company’s backup it’s time to move to a new solution. January 6, 2015 is the last day services will be available and it could be sooner for those whose current service ends before that date.

What does this mean?

  • You will no longer have access to any of your data stored in the cloud. Symantec has made it clear that there will be no exceptions.

What should I do?

  • Determine when your subscription ends. You can do this by logging into your Symantec portal and clicking on the Subscription link.
  • Restore your stored data prior to the end of your subscription. If you need assistance, please contact us.
  • Choose a replacement backup solution and migrate prior to your subscription ending. Our Databranch Account Managers have been working with current clients and helping them transition to either a new cloud backup solution or a full-fledged business continuity solution and we can do the same for you.

Don’t get caught with an expired subscription and no way to retrieve your precious business data! We want everyone to feel confident that their data is protected and easy to access at all times, even during times of disaster. If you have any question or need assistance with your transition, please contact us at 716-373-4467, sales@databranch.com, or click here to Get Started.

Last week one of our customers was contacted by “Microsoft”. He was told that a virus had been discovered on his computer and that the “tech” needed access to his machine. By the end of the call his perfectly good computer was so infected with malware his best option was to wipe the device and start fresh, losing his personal data.

The worst part of the story is he thought he was talking to a Databranch engineer.

This scam has been around for a few years now and is showing no signs of slowing down. Here are a few tips to help you recognize the situation and avoid becoming their next victim.

  1. Unless you are expecting a call from Microsoft or Databranch, it is relatively safe to assume the call is not legitimate. If you are concerned, please hang-up and reach out to Microsoft or our office (716-373-4467) directly. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm, so if you get called outside of that time or at your home, please hang-up!
  2. DO NOT download any software, go to any links, or provide any personal or credit information. These scammers are looking to install malicious software on your machine to steal your passwords, online banking info, etc., trying to get you to click on links that give them remote access to your machine, or get you to provide them credit card information to pay them for their services. In the end, it’s all about the money and how much they can get from you!
  • Common organizations the scammers pretend to be from:
    • Windows Helpdesk
    • Windows Service Center
    • Microsoft Tech Support
    • Microsoft Support
    • Windows Technical Department Support Group
    • Microsoft Research and Development Team

If you have been victim of a telephone scam please take the following steps:

  1. Change your passwords
  2. Scan your computer for malware. One free program we recommend is called Malwarebytes.
  3. Install/Update Anti-Virus Software
  4. Report the call to the FTC – 1-877-FTC-HELP

When your system is compromised, the best thing you can have is a good back-up of your data. If your system is recoverable, the consequences of an attack are less severe. Click here to learn more about are favorite back-up/disaster recovery solution.

For another take on this scam check out this article from Forbes Tech: http://onforb.es/VOG9FI

Have you been a victim of a telephone scam? Share your story or ask any questions in the comments below!

Last week it was announced that financial institution, J.P. Morgan had suffered from a security breach. This cyber-attack has affected 76 million households and 7 million small businesses, the exact number of individuals who have been exposed is unknown and has not been released.

Good News

  • The attack is under control and has been stopped.
  • The hackers were unable to obtain any credit or debit card information, social security numbers, passwords, or date of birth information.

Bad News

  • If you use Chase.com, JPMorganOnline, Chase Mobile, or JPMorgan Mobile your name, phone number, address, and email have been compromised.

What Should I Do?

  • Be prepared for an increase in phishing emails, especially emails that appear to be coming from JP Morgan. A reputable company will never ask for your personal information through an email. If you believe an email is legitimate, take the time to reach out to a company representative at an established phone number. The primary goal of a phishing email is to steal your personal information or money.

Please comment below with any questions or concerns you may have about this recent security breach.

Our Databranch account managers can help you develop a security solution that fits your business’s needs. We offer a comprehensive network security assessment and our engineers have the security expertise to keep your network safe. You can reach us at 716-373-4467, sales@databranch.com, or click here to get started.

Over the past year the tech world has been flooded with talk about Windows XP, which went out of support this past April. Recently, Microsoft has announced Windows Server 2003 will experience the same fate as XP and on July 14th, 2015 this highly used server operating system will no longer be supported.

The primary concern when a software product becomes end of life is security. Microsoft will no longer be creating or releasing updates for Server 2003 leaving your business vulnerable to security threats. In 2013 thirty-seven critical updates were released for Server 2003, without these patches you leave your network and company data exposed. If you’ve been watching the news lately you know hackers have been having some success, think Home Depot or Target. It is predicted these attacks will become even more prevalent as companies fail to upgrade outdated technology. As a business, you also need to be concerned about staying in compliance with your industries standards and regulations. Many times software that is no longer supported will not measure up.

The time to start planning your migration from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 is now. The first thing to do is determine how many, if any, instances of Server 2003 are being utilized in your current network set-up. Next, assess the upgrade path for all applications that are currently running on the Server 2003 operating system. We often find that business specific applications that are currently running on this older operating system will also need to be upgraded or replaced to be compatible on newer systems. Finally, allocate resources and budget for any necessary hardware upgrades that may need to be completed prior to transitioning to Windows Server 2012. It is likely that your business will need to upgrade your server infrastructure for the new operating system to run at its most effective levels.

The good news is we are still almost a year away from the end of support date but it’s important to start preparing soon. At Databranch, we have successfully migrated numerous customers from Windows Server 2003 to newer, supported operating systems. Our account managers are excited to work with you to create a migration plan for your business and are available to talk now. You can reach us at 716-373-4467, sales@databranch.com, or click here to get started.