How Much Could A Ransomware Attack Cost Your Business?

How much is your data is worth? Information is probably the most valuable part of your business. Imagine if you lost your client database, accounting software, inventory management and any intellectual property you may own. How long will it take to recreate this data and how much money would you lose in lost productivity, staff wages and the time it takes to either recover or recreate the lost information?

Recently when the WannaCry ransomware spread through out the world, many businesses were suddenly forced to re-assess the value of their data: was it worth saving and what would be the ongoing costs of the attack?

If you don’t have a recent backup most ransomware attacks cost at least $US200 (if not a lot more) to get your files released and that is only IF the cyber criminals honor the payment and actually give you the decryption key (some even demand further payments). Meanwhile your business is still running and new client calls are still coming in and you may find yourself unable to operate with your systems down.

Paying the ransom may seem like a quick fix but:

  • There is still the downtime involved to restore your data resulting in lost productivity.
  • If word gets out that your data has been compromised you may find confidence in your business plummets and your existing clients head elsewhere.
  • The cyber criminals you pay, may now see you as an easy target and demand more money or target you for other scams and malware activity.
  • You may recover the data but is it compromised with other malware?
  • You may not get back all the data that has been lost.

So that $US200 ransom may end up costing many, many thousands of dollars!

How To Prevent Ransomware Attacks on your Business

Keep your systems up to date: Malware can take advantage of flaws in older versions of Windows and software – sometimes ones that have already been patched by Microsoft and third party vendors. To be protected businesses have to stay up to date with their patches & versions. To be up to date with Windows patches you need to be running a supported version of Windows. Delaying patches and updates puts your business at risk – we can help you keep you systems up to date.

Use corporate grade security software and firewall: Free software may be fine for low end home computers but if the worst happens you will get no support or help from a company providing free software. A firewall or UTM (unified threat management) device can also help block malware and ransomware infections. But whether it is a free or paid for solution the software (and any hardware devices) must be kept up to date.

Lock down employee computers: Very few staff will require full administrator access to your business network. With a higher level of permissions the more damage a person can do – either accidentally or by inadvertently installing malware. By locking down your computers you have a better chance of containing a malware attack to non-vital systems. Our expert computer technicians can design an access management plan that gives you best of both worlds – flexibility and security.

Educate your workplace: Most employees believe they are being cyber-safe but in reality it is quite different. Many malicious links and embedded malware have become harder to spot – and all it takes is a microsecond to click (and later regret it). We can work with your staff to establish procedures around checking links for authenticity before clicking, awareness around verifying the source of attachments and the importance of malware scanning and keeping systems up to date. We can help get the message through!

Have a solid backup plan: When ransomware hits, a connected backup = infected backup. Also a lot of cloud backup systems, such as Dropbox, immediately clone the infected files which also renders the cloud copy useless. The only safe backups will be the ones both physically and electronically disconnected. Our experts can set you up with a backup system that makes recovery simple.

Be proactive: The best way to avoid the costs of a ransomware attack is to prevent it from happening in the first place is with up to date antivirus software, regular systems updates and security audits. Remember, many businesses were able to watch WannaCry from the sidelines, completely unaffected and seized opportunities while their competitors were down.

Our regular maintenance plans can help protect your business against the next cyber-attack. Call us today on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputin g.com.au.

Is Dropbox Suitable For Your Business?

Dropbox - is it suitable for me?

It seems easy! Install Dropbox and then drag your files into a Dropbox folder and you’ve got yourself a cloud based file storage system that brings your business in line with modern expectations. But then again, maybe not!

Due to its simplicity Dropbox has grown to become one of the main file sharing and cloud storage solutions around. For some businesses using Dropbox can provide good value, and it never hurts when your staff already know how to use the software. In other cases another alternative designed to meet business needs may be more suitable.

When Dropbox is a Good Choice

Micro-sized business: If your business is small with only yourself or a couple of employees.

No sensitive information: This includes personal details of customers, vendors and staff or other proprietary data such as accounting information.

Nobody ever accidentally deletes anything: Dropbox is a syncing service, which means when a file is deleted, it is deleted from all machines. While you can recover the file from the Dropbox website you need to do this within 30 days – which by the time you notice it’s missing may be too late.

If you’re thinking those attributes sound more like a fictional business, you’re not far off.

Dropbox’s popularity in the consumer space has caused businesses to use Dropbox despite the risks. Dropbox is designed for syncing and NOT backup. This means while your data is copied across all connected devices, it is a mirror of the data only – when you delete or change the original file it is immediately synced across devices. If malware infects one machine this can spread between all your connected devices and put all of them at risk.

You may require access control on certain files or folders. Dropbox acts like a free-for-all, the shared files are sitting there available to anyone with access to read, change and copy. You will also miss collaborative editing, losing out in productivity and data resilience as multiple employees overwrite each other simultaneously.

Another issue is – where are your files that are located in Dropbox actually stored? What country, what type of data centre, what countries laws apply, for privacy reasons do you require all data to be stored within Australia or another country? These are all legitimate questions which Dropbox doesn’t have an easy answer for.

If Dropbox makes sense for your business, there’s no reason to change. But if it is clearly not a good choice for you there are multiple corporate grade solutions available. These are designed for specifically for businesses with security, encryption and collaboration controls built in. Rather than the easiest solution which may pose a risk to your business consider implementing a business class scalable solution that meets all your needs.

Call us at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au to discuss online cloud storage solutions for your business

What is the “Internet of Things” or IoT?

You arrive at your home or business and the door unlocks because it knows who you are. The lights switch on automatically and your favorite music begins to stream gently through the room. It’s already the perfect temperature, and as you head to your fridge, you notice an alert on the screen reminding you of a meeting.

It may sound like a scene from a movie but it is actually reality today thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). Almost anything that can be turned on or off is now able to be connected to the internet. An new industry has been created to help users create a custom experience designed around their unique needs. Electronic locks, lights, healthcare wearables and household appliances are just the beginning. IoT goes beyond devices you can use to surf the web – it’s a global revolution.

Adapters can transform even the most random appliance into a connected gadget and  add new layers of functionality. Cloud software is creating connections, resulting in not just a new experience, but a new way of interacting with the data produced. It may all seem futuristic, but IoT is less about technology and more about enhancing relationships between people to people, people to things and things to things.

Millions of people are already wearing a Fitbit to track steps and calories and others are letting their fridge order groceries! The practical applications are almost endless and include:

  • GPS trackers on pets.
  • home security via webcam.
  • patient monitoring of blood pressure/heart rate.
  • weather monitoring.
  • remote power points.

No more worrying all day if you left the iron on, just push a button on your phone and know for sure it’s turned off.

Of course, with all this comes security risks. The idea of having your toaster hacked is a bit mind-boggling but any technology connected to the internet is open to exploitation. The webcam that allows you to monitor your pets may also allow other people to glimpse inside your home – but only if it’s not secured properly. Unfortunately, it only takes one small gap for a cyber-attack to get through, and once in all connected devices may be at risk.

Having your lights taken over by a far-away prankster may seem like a small risk, but gaps may allow them into your computers, phones, tablets and other devices too. This is the part the news reports and movies skip over – the networking protections that exist in the background, shielding against attacks.

Taking the time to properly secure your IoT device is essential to making sure you get the whole, happy future-tech experience. We’re big fans of the potential of IoT and can’t wait to see what comes next!

Do you have an IoT device that needs securing or would like to learn more? Give us a call on 08 8326 4364 to help.

Windows Vista End-of-Life: What This Means For You

Windows Vista End of LifeJust like what happened with Windows XP the life of Windows Vista is coming to an end. On 11th April 2017, Microsoft will cease all support and security patching. Naturally if you are a current Vista user this wouldn’t be good news and you are not exactly leaping for joy at this news!

Vista won’t stop working on this date but there will be a higher chance of security issues. While you’re watching the count-down and thinking about scheduling an upgrade cyber-criminals and hackers are making plans of their own.

As soon as vulnerabilities surface Vista users will be wide open for attack.Thus even the most stalwart Vista user should upgrade, as continued use will expose your computer to risks. These risks include:

Security risks: Gaps exploited during the Vista lifetime have already been patched but there are many more just waiting to be discovered. Hackers are extremely fast to exploit newly-discovered vulnerabilities and without Microsoft working just as fast to close them, the risk increases exponentially every time you turn on the computer. Antivirus software may not even help you here.

Compliance risks: Many businesses are subject to a variety of compliance conditions some of which require them to run an operating system that’s regularly patched. For those working with sensitive, financial, legal or private data, this is even more important. Continuing to use an unsupported OS places the entire business at high risk.

Software incompatibility: New applications are created for current operating systems. This means you probably won’t be able to upgrade past the software you now have. This will further open your systems up with security holes that aren’t being patched for third party applications..

No support: Vista mainstream support was stopped back in 2012 but there were always avenues if you were really stuck with something. A quick Google search or even Microsoft support staff willing to bend the rules; as of 11 April though, that all stops. The only support available will be outdated pieces you can locate with Google, solutions which may send you in circles with no resolution.

Windows Vista End-of-Life: What This Means For You

The solution is quite simple: upgrade your computers. It probably won’t be as simple as just updating your current system to though. Due to the age of Vista era machine you will most likely have to upgrade your whole system – hardware and software.

Windows 10 is the latest release and will give your upgrade investment the best value and security. Vista will continue to work after April 11, but every day you use it puts your system at higher levels of risk.

Get in contact by calling us at 08 8326 4364 to upgrade your Windows.

Why Do Computers Slow Down Over Time?

Is your computer slowing down?Remember the way you felt when you turned on your new computer and up it came in a flash? Your computer was the envy of your business colleagues and you loved all that glory. Turn on your system and you were ready to go – those were the days!

After a few years the computer now doesn’t seem to be quite as fast. No, you’re not imagining it, it really has slowed down. There is a measurable drop in speed and power but the good news is that with a little maintenance your computer can be faster.

Let’s look at what items can slow computers down:

Start-up applications: A lot of applications automatically add themselves to start-up when the computer starts. It may be convenient to have programs start automatically but others may be a hindrance. In fact many of the applications starting themselves with the computer are of little usage and are the main reason your computer is running slow.

For example, the iTunes helper loads in the background to speed things up when you connect your device – but if you can’t even remember the last time you ran iTunes on your computer then it is probably unnecessary and can be deleted from start-up. Programs like this are using your computer resources and adding to your speed issues. Some computers automatically load all sorts of programs which can be safely stopped from automatically loading.

Temporary junk: Computers programs leave temporary files and snippets of information all over your hard drive, each action leaving a trail rather like a roaming toddler with sticky fingers. Every webpage you visit, every program you run and every game you play leaves something behind.

It may be the tidbits of information called temporary internet file, cookies, saved game files, auto-restore files or even log files that are clogging your system.The more junk your computer builds up, the slower it gets.

Viruses and malware: These infections sit in the background consuming computer resources while doing various dangerous and unwanted things. They may be spying on your actions, stealing your information or reaching out through your network to infect others. Sometimes the impact is limited to seeing your computer slow to a crawl but other infections can easily reach into the thousands of dollars with lost data and productivity.

Bloating: With every new version of software comes a new set of features and other “improvements” – some are beneficial to you while others are not. The problem with this is that the applications becomes larger and larger with each new version and require more system resources to run – and slowing your computer down.

Hardware Issues: As with anything the older things get the more chances of failure or other issues occuring. Hard drives can have trouble reading data and fans get clogged with dust and cause over heating issues. A simple internal cleanout of the computer or a replacement hard drive (or even better an upgrade to a SSD) can bring the speed back to your computer.

Just like a car, computers need regular maintenance – check out our blog on computer maintenance for some hints and tips. We also offer a Tune-Up service to bring your computer back to its original speed and extend its life. If you are in Adelaide South Australia then email us now at support@dpcomputing.com.au to book your computer in for a tune up.

3 Reasons To Upgrade Your Computer

The business case for faster & better computers

Older desktop and mobile devices run slow and may cost your business in repairs and downtime. They also lack the latest security technologies which may place your business and customers at risk.

Broad Choice of Form Factors

Check out the following for some reasons to upgrade your current computer.

1. Increased Productivity

Increased ProductivityDevices powered by the latest 6th generation Intel Core processors deliver up to 2.5x faster performance compared to systems five years or older. Mobile devices also have 3x the battery life compared to 5 year old systems. A new device wakes in an instant and are up to date so users are never left waiting. New computers also run the latest MS Windows 10 and associated MS Office software suite all with no issues.

2. Hardware Enhanced Security

Hardware Enhanced Security

Safeguard your business data with hardware enhanced security. Windows 10 introduces secure authentication with Windows Hello and Intel RealSense Technology.

3. Broader Form Factor Choice of Form Factors

Broader Choice of Form Factors

New form factors allow you to choose from a wide range of designs. Current form factors include:

  • The traditional tower computer.
  • Space saving All-In-Ones.
  • Mini or ultra small form factor computers
  • Tablets
  • Hybrid and 2 in one laptops
  • Traditional laptops
  • Ultrabooks.

You also don’t need to sacrifice flexibility for memory, storage space, ports etc as most of these options are full configurable.

Get the performance and security you need to move your business forward with a new PC. Contact us now to discuss your options.

Grow Your Business Expo at Tonsley

This Thursday 24/11/16 we will be exhibiting at the inaugural Grow Your Business Expo @ Tonsley. The event is free and targeted towards both new and established business owners.

Local business experts will be on hand to share their knowledge. With over 30 exhibitors and 3 speakers it will be a great event.

On our stand we will have some new hardware on show and will help with any questions IT related. We will also have some freebies and will giving away a VR headset in our business card draw so come along and say hello.

To register or find more information check out the following link:

https://www.marion.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=131&t=uList&ulistId=0&c=29380

grow-your-business-expo-sponsors

 

SSD – Is It The Best Upgrade For You?

SSD versus HDD - which are better?

SSD versus HDD – which are better?

If you have a computer or laptop that is a few years old and running slow you may think it is time for a replacement. There is a better option – upgrade to a super fast SSD drive. A SSD (or Solid State Drive) performs the same job as a normal hard drive (ie it stores data). A SSD though stores the data in solid state memory (similar to a USB or thumb drive) while a hard drives stores data on a spinning disk. This makes data access much much faster on a SSD.

Before you all rush out and upgrade to SSD’s though there are a few things to consider with pros and cons for both devices. So first take into account the following:

Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

The main advantage of a hard drive is storage capacity, you can often find a hard drive with a storage capacity of several terabytes (you can store roughly 200 movies on a terabyte hard drive). Inside each hard drive, is lots of spinning parts and it is the speed of these spinning parts that determine how quick your computer can open your files such as pictures, word documents and music.

As a hard drive fills up with data, files can become scattered across the hard drive. This can result in a sluggish feel to the device you are using – defragmenting the drive can improve this but there is only a finite amount of speed to be gained from older hard drives..

Solid State Drives (SSD)

Solid state drives are built for speed. They do this by storing the data on them using a motionless technology, meaning there are no moving parts and the data can be accessed almost instantly. They are ideal for laptop users as hard drives can be easily damaged if you move your laptop while it is still powered on. They also run cooler and use less power than traditional hard drives meaning your battery lasts a lot longer.

The downside to SSDs is the cost. They are more expensive compared to a traditional hard drives. If you are not using all of your existing drive space, then seriously consider swapping it for an SSD – they are much faster compared to a traditional hard drive.

So which one should I choose?

The bottleneck on most computers comes from the hard drive, so if you are looking at improving the performance of your computer, and have less than 200GB of data, it is worth upgrading to a SSD. However, if you have a lot of data and want to keep costs down, a hard drive is perfectly fine.

If you need help upgrading to a SSD please contact us.

Crypto Virus

The CryptoLocker virus (or similar variants – CryptoWall, TorrentLocker, PC Lock) are still very active on the Internet.  This family of viruses is known as ransonware and can effect computers and any connected networked devices. They are spread via email and / or infected websites.

Trojan-Horse-BackDoor_Generic15_BPGV_-150x150The virus encrypts all files it has access to on your local computer which can include any network shares, USB hard drives, memory cards, backup system drives etc. Usually the first sign of infection is being unable to open files and / or noticing files names with the words decrypt or how to decrypt (eg DECRYPT_INSTRUCTIONS.txt) on your computer.

Currently the only way to decrypt the files is to pay a ransom fee, but this method may not work. Generally the only other way is to recover files from a recent backup.

This is a really nasty virus because its possible for your backups to be compromised depending on your backup strategy and network topology / server configuration.

Further information on the virus is available from the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CryptoLocker

Keeping your antivirus up to date and ensuring your computer systems are to date on security and application patches is CRUCIAL to stop this virus entering your systems. You should regularly install any patches available from the MS Windows Update website and also update other software which includes – Java, Flash and any other applications installed on your system.

Check and double check that your backups work and ensure you backup to multiple devices which aren’t all connected to a machine or the network at the same time (ie an air gap backup).

We regularly assist clients in keeping their systems up to date and regularly perform such maintenance. We also help clients infected with this virus (but it is cricital that you contact us ASAP). If you need help please let us know – click here for our contact details.

What’s So Good About Windows 10?

MS Windows 10 has just been released. We have written this blog and produced some videos to help you decide whether to upgrade to Windows 10.

To get a great feel for the new operating system, check out our Windows 10 Tutorial and Windows 10 First Looks & Impressions video.

 

While no computer program or operating system is perfect, Microsoft is getting a lot of things right with Windows 10.  Some of the highlights include:

  • The return of the Start menu Many of the folks who experienced the previous operating system, Windows 8, were very put off by the Start screen, which highlighted “metro-style” apps and live tiles. In Windows 10 Microsoft have brought back a more familiar style start menu in the lower left corner of the screen.  It is a hybrid between the Windows 7 start menu and the Windows 8 app-driven start screen. It is highly customisable and makes it easy to access most things you need on a daily basis. If you love the start screen though don’t despair as Microsoft gives users the option of using the new start menu or the Windows 8 style start screen. 
  • Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant.  Cortana is a bit like Siri, Apple’s voice-driven assistant.  In Windows 10, Cortana will be available on every device – phone, tablet, desktop and laptop.  You can essentially talk to your computer to perform searches or access information on your computer. Cortana learns about you and will start to use what she knows to offer increasingly relevant information when you ask for it.  
  • Microsoft Edge, the new web browser.  Windows 10 introduces Edge the new web page browser. Edge is very minimalist compared to Internet Explorer. There are no toolbars, icons and settings to get in the way of viewing various web pages. Internet Explorer can still be installed in Windows 10 for users who must use it for compatibility reasons. You are also free to install other web browsers, like Google Chrome or Firefox.  
  • Virtual desktops – Users will be able to set up multiple desktops on their Windows 10 computers.  For example, you can set up a desktop with all of your work-related icons and a separate desktop for all of your personal items.  Another use might be to set up a different desktop for each user in your home, rather than separate accounts for each user.  
  • Free upgrade for the first year.  For users who are running Windows 7 (service pack 1) or Windows 8.1, Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for the first year after it is released.  If you don’t upgrade within that year you will have to buy the operating system.  

Should You Upgrade to Windows 10?

While I believe that Windows 10 will be successful for Microsoft, I would strongly advise you not to upgrade straight away once it is released. The initial release may still have some bugs to work out which may cause issues on your computer.  It may be better to wait a few months for these to be worked out.  

When you do decide that you want to upgrade, here are some things that you will need to do first:

  • Make a complete backup of your system.  If something goes wrong during the upgrade process, you want to have a way to restore your computer to the way it was before the upgrade.  The easiest way to do this is to use the built-in tools with Windows 7 or 8 to create a system image on an external hard drive.
  • Install all of the latest updates on your operating system.  It would be best to run Windows updates on your system prior to an upgrade to be sure that you have the latest security and system patches.
  • Make sure that your current software and hardware is compatible with Windows 10.  Everything may run just fine on your current system but it may not run smoothly on Window 10.  Microsoft will release a compatibility tool which will inform you if your hardware and software will work with Windows 10.  We recommend that you install the latest device drivers for your computer (particularly video and network devices) prior to upgrading.  
  • Be sure to back up your data.  In addition to a full system upgrade, it would be wise to create a separate copy of your critical data (documents, pictures, music, videos, etc.) prior to upgrading. You should be doing this on a regular basis anyway.

Upgrading your operating system is a daunting task for most users.  If you are in Adelaide South Australia and feel that this is beyond your technical ability, we encourage you to give us a call. We will be offering a special Windows 10 upgrade service to our customers beginning in early August.

Can I return to Windows 8 / 7?

If for what ever reason you don’t like Windows 10 you can revert back to your operating system if you did an upgrade install.  To do this follow these steps:

  1. Click StartSettings or type Settings in the search bar.
  2. Click on Update & Security and then the Recovery section on the left hand side.
  3.  Then under the Go Back to Windows 7 (or 8) heading click on the Get Started button.
  4. Then follow the prompts.

Note: you may lose data and or programs so remember to backup all your data.

 

If you have any questions please leave a comment below and we wil try our best to help you out.