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Viewing posts categorised under: Ransomware

Email Security & Cybercrime

by Nicki Dowsett in cybercrime, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Password Security, Ransomware

Email security and cybercrime –  Almost daily there is a story that covers this subject in the news, whether it’s a large global corporation or an elderly retired person.  So many people are still unaware of the risks that can be faced with email security.

Here at MPR IT, we have sadly gained a considerable amount of experience in dealing with these threats.  We would therefore like to remind our customers of some simple guidelines that you should ensure your staff follow for email security.  These include recommendations from the Government Cyber Essentials Scheme.  We also strongly advise if you or any employee is concerned they have an affected PC/Laptop – call us asap

  • Email Attachments – Never open an email or attachment if you don’t know the sender.  If you are not expecting an attachment from a known sender – call them and check they did send you something
  • Check email addresses – criminals will set up accounts with very similar email addresses making it easy to trick you into thinking you know the sender  joe@bloggs.com or joe@bloggs.co
  • Malware Protection – do you have a robust malware in place? This will stop viruses and ransomware from getting through to your emails and employees
  • Access Control – encourage your staff to choose passwords that would be hard to guess and not simply change the number on the end each time it needs to be Password or 123456 are not ever going to be good choices.  Also ensure that admin passwords are only given out to members of staff that should have access to these.
  • Firewalls – investing in a high end firewall can prevent hackers from gaining access to your systems and to make certain there are no leaks.
  • Secure configuration – Is your system configured to ensure security for your organisation. Are all laptops, PC’s and phones password protected? Do files need to be password protected?
  • Patch Management – the likes of Microsoft and other operating systems regularly release new updates to their software. Ensure you are fully up to date as these updates will often include patches to ensure your systems are more secure.  As hackers become more clever the software providers work hard to identify areas to increase security.

We also recommend you view the following websites

Whilst the majority of news stories cover ransomware and data being lost or damaged, we have known criminals to spend months watching systems, gathering information and general daily routines.  Then with a simple email, that looks to have come from a sender you know they have managed to gain access to your bank accounts and emptied them before anyone has realised.   Either way it is extremely costly to your business.  Please ensure your staff are fully briefed on email security and the types of scams and crimes that can & have happened.  If any doubt or you would like more information please contact us to discuss.

 

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Cyberscams & how to stay cybersafe

by Nicki Dowsett in cybercrime, Industry News, IT Support, Password Security, Ransomware

Cyberscams affect people in many walks of life.  We have all seen the stories in the news of large corporations that have been hacked such as the recent NHS attack or Talk Talk in recent years.  Companies of all sizes are at risk to being hacked or cyberscams,  SME’s are targeted just as often, we just dont see it reported as much.  Even in your personal life you can be at risk for cyberscams, through social media or email.  The cyber criminals are getting sharper and also now send text messages as well as emails to trick people.  Everyone no matter their age can be at risk.

Cyberscams can be devastating, with criminals asking you to click on a link to confirm your details and taking you to a dummy site that looks very real.  They can also access your systems and monitor your activity, create ghost accounts that make you think you are dealing with a supplier you deal with all the time when in fact they are scammers looking to steal your data and money.

Whilst as a company MPR IT, often given advice and have written a number of blogs on this subject, we have recently come across these two books written by Thames Valley and Metropolitan Police.  We feel these are extremely useful and would strongly suggest that you take the time to read and digest.  Obviously if you have any questions or require any additional support regarding this subject our team will be pleased to help.

big book of scams

The Little Book of Big Scams

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Wanna Cry Cyber attack

by Nicki Dowsett in cybercrime, Disaster Planning, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Password Security, Ransomware, Uncategorised, Windows 10

Wanna Cry Cyber Attack – Over the last couple of years, I have spent several hours if not days reading articles on cyber crime and hacking as part of my role here at MPR IT.  If you follow us on social media you will also see how this is a hot topic for us and we quite often post news stories of hacks and how you can protect yourselves, I have also written a few blogs on the subject (all of which can be found on our website).  So, the breaking news on Friday and all over the weekend of the hack affecting over 150 countries around the world, with some 200,000 machines affected this wasn’t entirely a shock for me.  All too often I see stories of both large corporations and small one person business being hit by hacking or ransomware.

Map of Wanna Cry affected countries

Extent of countries affected by Wanna Cry in Red

As a company that takes pride in providing the best support and advice to our customers, our priority is prevention rather than cure, although we do unfortunately have experience on the cure as well.  Our key guidelines for protecting your systems are pretty simple:

  • Ensure you Operating System is the most current and up to date – Microsoft release patches and updates regularly. This particularly virus is targeted towards out of date, older systems.  Please ensure your system is fully up to date.  If you have any concerns please contact us and we can check this for you.
  • Many virus’s are spread through email attachments – NEVER open anything from someone you don’t know or aren’t expecting. If you are unsure about an email or attachment, call MPR IT or the company where the attachment has come from and enquire as to whether it is legitimate.
  • Ensure you permanently delete any emails with attachments that you do not need, or where you don’t know the sender.
  • Make sure that you have an up to date Anti Virus – MPR IT can check this for you if you are unsure how up to date this is or if you don’t have anti-virus we can provide anti virus software to your company.
  • NEVER share passwords with anyone and make sure that passwords you do have are always different. PASSWORD1 is surprisingly still a popular choice – it’s not a good idea as very easy to guess.
  • Back up your data daily and store a copy off site securely as well on site. The worst that can happen if data is backed up is that you lose one days’ work, and not everything.

The virus ‘Wanna Cry’ that hit the world on Friday, and spread over the weekend is mainly targeted at Government departments.  Where systems are older and the networks are very large, this allows it to spread so quickly, we are therefore not expecting for this to affect many of our customers, however please be assured that our team are prepared and ready to deal with any issues that you may experience.

To our customers with a contract that includes workstation monitoring, we have already rolled out emergency patches to any potentially affected machines.   If you do not have a contract that includes workstation monitoring please contact us and we can look to update any patches or we can review your contract to include workstation monitoring should you wish.

Please take this simple advice and pass to your colleagues and get the message out on how to avoid potential cybecrime hacks and viruses.  Hopefully one day soon I won’t be spending so much of my time reading articles on cybercrime.

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Network malware attack

by Nicki Dowsett in Engineers, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, Password Security, Ransomware, Uncategorised

Canterbury Archaeological Trust, one of the UK most famous Archaeology firms based in Kent, turned to MPR IT over 5 years ago looking for an outsourced IT company.  They required a reliable company to provide day to day support, Office 365, Anti-virus and also support on any larger projects that may require IT services.

Included in the support that we offer to the Trust is an all-inclusive server support and AVG anti-virus software.   Ensuring the charity is safe in the knowledge that the systems are monitored and support available 365 days a year, all for a set cost per month.  No unexpected bills for when something goes awry on a weekend or holiday period.

This support became invaluable one weekend when something went wrong on the network.  As 24 hours support was in place,  an out of hour’s call was made to MPR IT.  With the ability to remotely look at the network our engineer quickly identified that malware had in fact infiltrated the system, and he quickly made the decision to make his way to the site.

Within an hour of the initial call out the network on site had been shut down and all machines physically unplugged to avoid any further damage occurring.  This is key with any malware attack, the sooner the network is detached from the outside world the quicker it will stop from spreading.  Over the next few hours, the infected file was identified and removed whilst the remaining files were scanned.  The network is backed up on a regular basis,which is something we recommend to all our clients.  This meant that when restoring the network it was easy to revert to the most recent back up and limited data lost, especially as this occurred out of hours meaning that there had been limited access since the back up the previous evening.

What Canterbury Archaeological Trust have to say about MPR IT

Just a quick note to thank you and the team – and especially David and Mitch – for the fantastic response to the weekend viral attack on our computer systems, and for your sound advice in the first place which resulted in building such a resilient set-up. From your first response on Monday, which limited the damage, to the speedy and efficient disaster recovery, we could not have asked for more. Several of our staff have commented on their amazement at the speed with which you got us back up and running. Brilliant job, well done!

Personally, I can’t help contrasting it with what happened a few years back when the Raid Array blew, that really was a disaster. We’ve come a very long way since then, thanks to MPR-IT.

John Hammond

Commercial Operations Director

Canterbury Archaeological Trust

For more information on how we can support your business please do not hesitate to contact us and discuss your requirements.

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Ransomware will the battle ever be won?

by Nicki Dowsett in cybercrime, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Support, Password Security, Ransomware

Ransomware, cryptolocker and cybercrime seem to be the most popular topics in the news this year.  I look after the social media here at MPR IT and a large chunk of my role is to review numerous websites looking for news that may be of interest to not only our customers but also to our team.  By keeping on top of the news means we can be one step ahead of new technology coming out, and also what to watch out for.

Most of the news seems to be about cybercrime and hackers lately.  Companies are attacked daily, from small websites through to the American government.  Utility companies, dating sites, children’s toys they have all been in the news and not for the best reasons.  Just this week it was reported that train companies in the UK had been hacked.  With more and more companies relying on technology to run it, I sadly fear it won’t be long till some unscrupulous organisation will try a major attack to infrastructure.

Example of a ransomware screen alert

Ransomware & Cryptolocker

Whilst reviewing news sites this week, I was extremely pleased to see a report on a University in Florida.  They are one small step closer to helping the world combat cybercrime, by designing a technique called Crypto Drop. The report showed that by monitoring activity on targeted files, it was possible to block ransomware when only a tiny percentage had been encrypted. Whilst it is not fail safe, it is a new approach against hackers.  The technique includes countermeasures which are triggered once ransomware infiltrates the network.  This technique relies on three indicators of ransomware activity:

  • Bulk modification of file types
  • Dissimilarity – plain text looks nothing like encrypted file
  • Entropy – encryption produces high entropy

Whilst running the demonstration it was proven that Crypto Drop can contain the action of malware.  Only 0.2% of files were encrypted. In essence this is an early warning system as opposed to a fail safe solution.  Ransomware will still be on your network, and action should still be taken to clean the network, however only a small percentage of files will be lost as opposed to the network.  This will not be an automated piece of software and will require your network administrator to run the software to help distinguish between expected and unexpected activity.

As we all know the people behind cybercrime are equally as clever and constantly coming up with new ways to infiltrate our systems and come up with new scams, once a program such as this is developed fully and launched they will no doubt be looking at ways to break through Crypto Drop.

So there is a little light at the end of the tunnel in the war against cybercrime.  In the meantime please ensure you review your network security and business practises to ensure you do not become a victim to cybercrime.  We have blogged before about the best ways to stay ahead of hackers and this technique will be no excuse to not continue ensuring your systems are secure and backed up regularly.  If you require any assistance on making sure your network is secure at all times please contact us at MPR IT Solutions.

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