What you need to know to keep your computer secure.
As technology and computer’s advance, so do the viruses, trojans and malware that plague your operating systems. Perpetual updates to anti-virus programs, malware scanners and firewalls usually keep up with thee nefarious activities, but one such malware has proven to be resistant to security updates. The now infamous CryptoLocker is a ransomware trojan which targets computers using Microsoft Windows. The malware appeared in September of 2013.
CryptoLocker infection can be acquired from various sources. The most common is from an email attachment. When a computer is infected and CryptoLocker is initiated, the malware encrypts files stored on your PC’s local, mounted and even networked drives. Your files are encrypted by using an RSA public-key cryptography. This means that the key to access your files is stored on the CryptoLocker’s server. When your computer is infected, a message will appear offering you the ability to decrypt your data with a payment through BitCoin. Additionally, you must pay the ransom by a deadline or risk losing the deletion of the private key and therefore losing access to your private files. If the deadline is missed, CryptoLocker offers to decrypt the data for a much higher ransom.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Always avoid email attachments from unknown senders.
- Back up your PC files consistently.
- Avoid storing passwords, sensitive financial data or other personal information on your computer.
- If CryptoLocker infects your PC, removing the malware itself will not give you access to your encrypted files.
- If your computer is infected, do not try to connect a storage device to recover your back up files.
- Most users report that paying the ransom will allow you to recover your files.
- Consult an IT professional if your computer has been infected with CryptoLocker.
With these common safety tips, most users can avoid common viruses and malware. In the event of a computer or network infection, please call our help desk immediately at 1-888-930-1117.
The year was 2001 when Microsoft released Windows XP to the world. Windows XP has been a part of our lives for almost 13 years. The original release of Windows XP was by no means perfect, and it required 3 Service Packs and 5 years before Microsoft built what will most likely go down in history as one of it’s most popular operating systems.
Over the past decade PC’s have moved from high-end equipment to be more comparable to an appliance; you need it, but once you’ve decided which one to purchase, you expect to use it until it breaks. Because of this, they are still millions of people still using Windows XP with no major issues. Now, Microsoft has decided that it’s time for users to move on and they have officially announced that as of April 8, 2014 that Windows XP will be considered ‘end of life’, will no longer be supported and they will no longer release security updates/patches for it.
Why Should You Care?
Both home and business users should pay special attention to Microsoft discontinuing security updates for Windows XP. No more security updates or patches means that any new vulnerabilities in Windows XP will not be fixed. To put this in perspective, Microsoft releases patches for Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8) on the second Tuesday of every month and these updates almost always include security fixes for newly discovered issues. This means that there’s a very high chance that by the second Tuesday in May of this year all of your Windows XP machine will be vulnerable to exploitation. This will likely result in your PCs being infected and placing your entire network at risk. Due to the nature of these vulnerabilities its highly unlikely that anti-virus or anti-malware software will offer any protection.
What Can You Do?
Unfortunately there’s no way around it, the Windows XP machines must go, they will pose a significant and serious security threat to your network if they remain in use. If your organization currently has machines running Windows XP you should start purchasing new machines or plan a desktop infrastructure upgrade project with your IT department or provider. This should include replacing all Windows XP machines with newer systems OR upgrading them to at least Windows Vista (although you’d be much better off with Windows 7 or Windows 8). You may also take this as a chance to evaluate your entire IT infrastructure to ensure all of your equipment is current with the latest, updates and current support subscriptions.
If you need assistance in procuring and migrating to new desktops/laptops in your organization, Invizio provides IT support and desktop infrastructure roll-out services. Give us a call today.
Please join the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce for a free workshop entitled “Social Media Business Technology Trends” on February 28, 2014 at the University of Miami Life Science Park. Our Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Kevin V. Michael will be appearing on the panel alongside other recognized social media & technology experts such as Suzan McDowell of Circle of One Marketing, Chris Payne of Fury Advertising, and Diane Sanchez of Technology Foundation of the Americas. Keynote will be provided by Luis Cuneo of IBM. To RSVP please contact the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce at www.m-dcc.org or by calling 305-751-8648.