Infected? A New Phishing Attempt for 2018

Even managed service providers receive scam emails and phone calls.

These serve as a reminder that education on phishing, scareware, and ransomware is an ongoing process, one that even IT experts need to stay sharp on.

But let’s assume you aren’t an IT expert. How can you best determine the validity of these messages and if they have malicious intent?

As with any learning process, practice is important. You may want to start with our phishing quiz. Know where you stand with gut instinct and some important clues.

Pink phishing lure

Can you spot the phish? Take our quiz today by clicking on the image above!

Whether the attempt is made by email or phone, there is always something just a bit off about a phishing attempt. The phisher may have some accurate personal information—like your name, or the fact that you have Yahoo! email or an AT&T phone account—and see if you’ll take the bait.

It is easy to panic at the threat of suspension or an overdue bill and put aside any unease because of the urgent matter apparently at hand. This is exactly what phishers and scammers hope will happen.

The goal of these calls or emails is to collect even more information about you, fleshing out a profile for future scams, which the phisher can sell to other scammers, or—the jackpot—to collect banking or credit card information and cash in.

Because these phishes do have some truth mixed in, many do fall victim.

False Blackmail

It might sound like an episode of Black Mirror—in fact, the tactics used in this blackmail email are eerily similar to those dramatized in a recent episode of the Netflix series depicting fictional futures—but scammers are now using direct emails as a method to extort information or Bitcoin from unsuspecting users.

About a month ago, Mark Anderson, Principal of Anderson Technologies, received a blackmail email scam. “As you could probably have guessed, your account was hacked, because I sent message you from it,” the scammer began in broken English. They first boasted by showing an unencrypted old password—probably acquired from Yahoo’s 2013 data breach.

The email continued to outline the threat. “Within a period from July 7, 2018 to September 23, 2018, you were infected by the virus we’ve created.” This virus, they suggested, gave them access to “messages, social media accounts, and messengers.” This apparently wasn’t enough intimidation for most scam victims, because the email then amped up the threat.

Users all over the internet report similar threats; the scammer creates a scenario that, if true, would serve as ample motivation to give in to their demands. The scammer says that video of the user was recorded while visiting “adult websites,” and that, unless 700 dollars is transferred to the scammer’s Bitcoin wallet within 48 hours, this footage would be released and they would “show this video to your friends, relatives, and your intimate one…”

So, with a relatively low payout amount, and a previously accurate (but very old) password, how did Anderson know this threat was a scam? He knew what they’d accused him of was false, not to mention he didn’t have a webcam as they’d suggested. But other clues included:

  • While the email appeared to be sent from Anderson’s old account, this can be accomplished through spoofing.
  • The password they listed was not the current (or even recent) password for that account.
  • Broken English isn’t always a giveaway but combined with the generic threat, it seemed like a form letter.
  • Googling some of the email text brings up threads of other users exposing the scam. We’ve censored some of the less savory aspects of the original email, but the full text and break down can be read online.

If you receive this email or a similar threat, your first step should be to research the threat online or reach out to an IT expert. Never pay a blackmail, ransom, or other request for money. Instead, update your passwords, run anti-virus and anti-malware scans on affected devices, and consider implementing multi-factor authentication on your accounts in order to bolster your security profile.

Are you looking for an IT expert to help guard your small business from scams like this? Contact Anderson Technologies by phone (314.394.3001) or email (info@andersontech.com) today.

cloud backups st louis

Top Considerations When Selecting a Cloud Backup Provider

In the past two years, 63 percent of small and medium businesses (SMBs) began using an online or cloud-based backup service.

Clutch, a B2B research firm, recently surveyed 304 SMBs who use cloud-based, online backup solutions to determine how businesses use the technology and what they think about it. Mark Anderson, Principal and IT Strategist for Anderson Technologies, was one of several industry experts to review and provide feedback for Clutch’s publication on the survey’s findings. Specifically, he pointed to three factors that SMBs should consider when selecting a backup solution.

  1. Level of Service Offered

A big name does not automatically equate to big results for your business. SMBs surveyed listed Apple iCloud as the most popular backup solution used at work, followed by Google Drive and Dropbox.

Top 3 Backup Services Used at Work

However, despite these services’ popularity, they do not have full-service offerings. They may not meet a business’s more complex backup and recovery needs.

The prevalence of these three services point to companies focused on performing more file-level backups versus “bare-metal” backups. Companies wouldn’t be able to quickly and efficiently recover an entire server this way, and depending on their tolerance for downtime, they should investigate augmenting these offerings with other, more robust options.

  1. Capability to Perform Dual-Destination Backups

Do you want to store data both on-premise and online? If so, make sure your online backup solution can perform dual-destination backups. This setup provides peace of mind in the case of total data loss.

An overwhelming majority of SMBs — nearly 90 percent — already use both online and onsite backup.

Does your company use both online and on-premise backup?

In the event of a physical disaster, backing up data to the cloud allows SMBs to get back on their feet quickly.

The ability to perform a dual-destination backup gives clients the option of quick on-premise file restores as well as cloud recovery in the case of complete office loss due to fire, flood, or other natural disasters.

Meanwhile, having the option of on-site backup can assuage fears of the cloud’s potential failures since many businesses remain wary of the technology’s ability to keep data secure.

For years, on-premise was the only option available to businesses. This history is ingrained in IT departments the world over, and the fact that you can physically control the process is very compelling. However, it’s important to consider the cloud option in parallel.

  1. Cost Breakdown

Cost is one of the top three challenges SMBs face when deciding to use a cloud-based, online backup solution as well as one of the top fears that can prevent SMBs from adopting cloud services.

The majority of SMBs spend between $250-$5,000 yearly on their online backup. The top percentage (23%) spend $501-$1,000.

Yearly Spending on Online Backup Solutions

There are three primary factors influencing the price tag for online backup providers:

  1. The number of systems that need to be protected
  2. The amount of data being stored indefinitely
  3. Provision of dual-destination backup

However, the cost of using online backups should be contrasted with an SMB’s ability to provide the same level of service in-house. The security and reliability of top-tier cloud vendors’ state-of-the-art data center infrastructure and the systems they put in place will be far more robust and stringent than what a small to medium-sized business can afford.

While online backup solutions’ accessibility, cost efficiency, and security make them a smart choice for small businesses, it is necessary to consider the array of product choices carefully before selecting a service.

If you’d like to look into cloud backup services for your business with one of Anderson Technologies’ specialists, please give us a call at 314.394.3001 or send an email to info@andersontech.com.

Cloud Computing st louis

Why Move to Cloud Computing?

We’ve all heard this popular term or even know someone whose company has embraced it…. But is the cloud right for your business? In its most basic sense, cloud computing enables users to run programs from the internet that traditionally would’ve run from an application installed locally on their computer.

Most clients are rightfully cautious when adopting new technology, especially when it comes to keeping their data secure. Previously, a server room of expensive equipment was the only option. This is no longer the case. Utilized correctly, cloud computing helps businesses on multiple fronts.

Here are eight benefits of cloud computing.

  1. Accessibility

Applications and company data are accessible whenever and wherever you or your employees need them. Utilizing desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets – anything with an internet connection – you’re no longer limited to one physical location. Your programs and data are available from the office, home, while traveling – anywhere.

  1. Immediate Data Updates

Most cloud providers synchronize data changes as they occur so others can see the updates almost immediately. This is especially helpful for co-workers who need to share data in real time.

  1. File Versioning

Depending on subscription levels, many cloud providers offer file versioning for a period of time (i.e., 30 days). This allows you to undo saved changes or restore a file if it gets corrupted by going into the archive list and reinstating a previous copy.

  1. User Permissions

With cloud computing systems, it’s easy to limit access to data through the implementation of granular user permissions. Users can only view and interact with files that their permissions allow them to access.

  1. Data Redundancy

The cloud essentially enables users to have multiple copies of their data—a local copy and a copy in the cloud. If you experience a device failure, no problem! Your files are immediately available by logging into the cloud environment on the internet. Once the failed device is replaced, your data synchronizes back to you from the cloud copy to the new hardware.

  1. Popular Software Integration / User Collaboration

Many cloud providers now offer direct software integration with popular productivity suites such as Microsoft Office, providing easy ways for teams to collaborate on projects that share files stored directly on cloud drives.

  1. State-of-the-Art Data Centers with No Capital Expense

Commercial, enterprise-level cloud providers store your data in very secure data centers on redundant hardware in multiple locations. This would be cost prohibitive for most businesses to implement and maintain on their own.

  1. Security

Another benefit to having your data in the cloud is the peace of mind gained from knowing your files are secure. If something were to happen to your PC or laptop, such as theft, you can remotely wipe the hard drive the next time it connects to the internet and safeguard your company’s sensitive data.

If you’d like to explore the potential of cloud computing for your business with one of Anderson Technologies’ IT specialists, please give us a call at 314.394.3001 or send us an email to info@andersontech.com.

Malware keyRaider iPhones

Malware Security Alert: KeyRaider Infects Jailbroken iPhones

Although this latest hack might not apply to you, we want to advise you about the latest malware, nicknamed KeyRaider. News sources are reporting KeyRaider only targets “jailbroken” iPhones. Here is a link to an article that provides more information.

Jailbreaking is a practice most common among tech-savvy users who wish to remove the restrictions and limitations imposed by their phones’ operating systems. “Unless you have jailbroken your phone, you don’t need to worry about this malware security alert,” said Mark Anderson, principal of Anderson Technologies, Inc. “This isn’t really an issue for most of our clients but it does point to a key principle. In general, security barriers are important safeguards put in place by phone manufacturers. Bypassing these measures can have disastrous results.”

If you have a jailbroken phone or any security concerns about your computer infrastructure, we can help! Please contact us at 314.394.3001 or send an email to info@andersontech.com.

android

Android Stagefright Security Threat

A serious Android security flaw has been uncovered which affects devices running Android version 2.2 or later.

From the web:

“A full 95 percent of all Android devices — that’s about 950 million smartphones, tablets and other mobile gadgets — are at risk from one of ‘the worst Android vulnerabilities discovered to date,’ according to enterprise mobile security firm Zimperium. The security flaw, enabled by the Android operating system’s Stagefright media library, could allow hackers to access devices without users ever realizing that they’ve been compromised.”

Anyone using an Android device should apply the most recent patches.

As part of Anderson Technologies’ Managed Tech Services, we monitor the IT landscape and alert our clients about items we feel they should be aware of.  If you’d like more information about that, please give us a call!

 

windows 10

Windows 10 Is Coming

This Tuesday night at midnight eastern time, Microsoft will release Windows 10. While there appears to be many great features and updates, it is our policy to fully evaluate such programs before upgrading.  We’ll be evaluating this over the next several weeks, but we’ve already read that the operating system contains problems with several video drivers.

As part of Anderson Technologies’ Managed Tech Services, we monitor the IT landscape to alert our clients about items we feel they need to be aware of.

We’ll keep you posted as we have more information.