Dealing with Ransomware

Ransomware can ruin your day. It can be an annoyance or it can wreck you company or organization. The most important piece of advice we give our clients that, in spite of everyone's best efforts, should they be attacked by ransomware is to first: DO NOTHING! Call us. We've been quite successful in helping to recover from ransomware attacks, even for those who are not our clients. However, once non-technical people start trying to fix an attack themselves, things can spiral out of control very quickly. This article from our friends at Norton by Symantec provides basic advice for individual and small systems users. It also contains good general advice for users and systems of all sizes.

Malicious software that uses encryption to hold data for ransom has become wildly successful over the last few years. The purpose of this software is to extort money from the victims with promises of restoring encrypted data. Like other computer viruses, it usually finds its way onto a device by exploiting a security hole in vulnerable software or by tricking somebody into installing it. Ransomware, as it is known, scores high profile victims like hospitals, public schools and police departments. Now it has found its way into home computers.

The nefarious ransomware business model has turned out to be a lucrative industry for criminals. Over the years its ill repute has made law enforcement team up with international agencies to identify and bring down scam operators.

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Why Bother with Upgrades & Updates


"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" That saying applies in many places, but NOT to computer hardware and software. It’s clear that many of today’s cyber attacks prey on vulnerabilities present in old software and hardware. This is especially true for operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.

It may not be “broke”, but it’s still old and very likely out-of-date. “Working” does not mean “secure”. Old software and hardware simply do not have the latest defenses like security patches and advances in firmware to keep you safe from new and ever-evolving threats. And depending on how old, some products are no longer supported or able to be upgraded at all.

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Marketing Mistakes that Can Lead to Trouble.

Advertising and marketing is regulated by federal law, and if you’re not on top of the regulations that apply to you, your ads could end up costing you more in fines than they bring in business. The Federal Trade Commission regulates and enforces advertising laws. Here are some key advertising and marketing mistakes small business owners should avoid.  

Mistake #1: Sending SPAM email. No one likes to receive spam, but you’ll be really unhappy if you are accused of sending it. If enough of your business emails get marked as spam, the recipients’ ISPs could block your emails, or your email service provider could shut off your campaign. But that’s the least of your worries, because breaking CAN-SPAM laws could cost you as much as $16,000 for each spam email.

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Local Flooding Affecting Computer Technology

During July, the Ithaca area has experienced record rainfall.  While great for most of the crops and our lawns, there have been a number of flash floods affecting several business and organizations.  Fortunately, this doesn't happen often in our area. However, a flood, even when small, can damage or destroy computer and other electronic technology.  A number of local clients had siginificant damage to some or all of their computer technology.

Some reminders:

  1. When installing new or updating computer technology, network servers, or any electrical or electronic equipment, avoid basements and other near to the ground locations.  Seems obvious, but in most businesses, putting the network server in the basement seems like "just the right place" and "out of the way".  It is, until the day water finds its way to the same place.  If you must put a server or computer in a basement, keep it well off the floor and be very vigilant should there be the possiblity of a flash flood.

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Helping out Remote Employees

 A lot of companies and organizations have remote workers these days. Here are some Microsoft tools to make their jobs easier and days less isolating.

Remote employees have come a long way since the days when trying to work while away from the workplace was like a sentence in solitary confinement. Thanks to the Cloud, they no longer have to use cumbersome methods to access office computer files or receive access codes from special devices just to make a phone call. But, do your remote employees really feel like they are part of the team?

There’s a lot to be said for the sense of community formed by team members who are all in the same physical location. Here are four pitfalls of working remotely and how Microsoft tools can help employees from San Francisco to South Beach collaborate as if they are all sitting around the same table.

Access to files and software

When attending meetings, the people in the office conference room have an advantage over remote employees. As discussions shift from one document to another, remote attendees have to scramble to locate those files and get them on their screens. Too often, the discussion shifts to something else by the time they get a first glance at the previous file.

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