Ransomware Scams are back

We have been fortunate in our area not to have seen too many of these attacks. In addition to what's mentioned in this article by our friends at the Better Business Bureau, we can work with you and your company to make sure all your data is protected.

The ransomware scam is back and more vicious than ever, according to a new FBI report. Ransomware is a virus that freezes your computer, holding it ransom until you pay to unlock it. Victims are reporting losing up to $10,000 in a new version of this scam that encrypts your files. 

How the Scam Works:

You click on an infected advertisement, link or email attachment. Suddenly, a pop up appears. The screen tells you that all the files on your computer have been encrypted, making them useless unless you have a key to decode them.

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Using Location Services Safely

Editors's Note - We speak with clients and friends all the time about their smartphones and tablets regarding the data on them and what might happen to important information should that device be lost or stolen.  In addition, it's possible that your phone may be giving away your location unbeknownst to you.  Something to think about.

Does your phone know where you are? If you've used your phone to find directions or locate a nearby restaurant, you've used its global positioning system (GPS) and it's likely that it would be able to pinpoint your location within a close range.

Location services can be convenient for automatically adding location information (geotags) to photos. Some people also use location services to post their locations to social networking sites, such as Facebook. Be aware, however, that others can use your location information, too.

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Don't let a Natural Disaster create a Data Security Nightmare

 by Lisa Weintraub Schifferle

"Natural Disaster happen elsewhere,  We're fine here."  We hear comments like this all too often.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  We do get our share of natural disasters right here. Read on for some helpful tips on how to prepare.

A natural disaster can wreak havoc on any business. But it's even worse when that real-world catastrophe becomes a data security calamity.

Before the summer storm season arrives, get your business ready. Just like you gather flashlights, bottled water, and emergency supplies, you can prepare your business by reviewing data retention and disposal practices.

Why are data retention practices important? As Bob Dylan said, “the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.” Remember the Brooklyn warehouse fire, where media reports indicate that medical records (including drug tests), bank checks, and Social Security numbers were strewn about the neighborhood. Or tornados in the Midwest which literally blew away sensitive personal information, sometimes even across state lines. 

No one wants that to happen to their business. Of course, you can't stop a hurricane or tornado. But while the sun is still shining, you can reduce the risk to customers and employees by safely disposing of paperwork you no longer need. The last thing you want is old records, that you should've securely destroyed years ago, blowing in the wind. If you hold onto only what you really need, it's easier to keep it safe – and there's less to lose in a natural disaster.

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Different Hats on Hackers

Editor's Note:  Hacking of computer systems sometimes appears to be a recent phenomenon. Back in the very early days of the Internet in 1988, a Cornell graduate student, Robert Tappen Morse created one of the first computer worms.  It landed him in hot water and ultimately the first to be convicted under the comptuer fraud and abuse act.  He eventually became a professor of computer science at MIT.

Today, there are different types of hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks.  This article discusses the differences among black hat, white hat and grey hat hackers..

Not all hackers are inherently bad. When used in mainstream media, the word, “hacker,” is usually used in relation to cyber criminals, but a hacker can actually be anyone, regardless of their intentions, who utilizes their knowledge of computer software and hardware to break down and bypass security measures on a computer, device or network. Hacking itself is not an illegal activity unless the hacker is compromising a system without the owner’s permission.  Many companies and government agencies actually employ hackers to help them secure their systems.

Hackers are generally categorized by type of metaphorical “hat” they don: “white hat”, “grey hat”, and “black hat”. The terms come from old spaghetti westerns, where the bad guy wears a black cowboy hat, and the good guy wears a white hat. There are two main factors that determine the type of hacker you’re dealing with: their motivations, and whether or not they are breaking the law.

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Top Business EDGE eNews entries for 2014

With the end of the year upon us, we begin looking at what's going to happen in 2015.  However, we also look back on the year just ended.  In that regard, we took a look at our Business EDGE eNews Blog and reviewed the top five most read articles for 2014:

1. Myths regarding the use of refilled toner cartridges:  www.compcenter.com/client/index.cfm/2014/4/16/Myths-regarding-the-use-of-refilled-toner-cartridges

2. Securty Habits of Effective PC Users:  www.compcenter.com/client/index.cfm/2014/3/31/Security-Habits-of-Effective-PC-Users 

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