Author: admin


Email Archiving and TTP

You might think that Gmail or Office 365 is backing up all of your old emails and data, but there’s a good chance that they’re not. Here’s how you can fix that.

I’m here today to talk about a common misconception in the technical marketplace when it comes to email archiving and whether or not cloud providers like Gmail and Office 365 back up your email and data.

In the case of Gmail, they back things up for about 30 days in a recycling bin for anything that gets deleted. For Office 365, though, they only keep the data for about 14 days.

Today I’m excited to talk about some alternative solutions and other services that will back up your data for as long as you need it.

Here’s an outline of my full discussion on the topic, with timestamps so that you can skip around to the section(s) that interest you the most:

2:00- How Google and Microsoft handle data backup for their users, and why it isn’t always the right solution for your situation.

3:20- How these providers leverage their recycling bins for storing data.

3:50- Some potential solutions for your long-term email and storage needs and why it’s so crucial in today’s climate

5:55- A very beneficial service that a lot of organizations are using to protect themselves and their data

7:00- Another affordable service that protects you from hackers trying to steal your data with an extra layer of security

8:55- How we can help you improve your business’s cybersecurity, email archiving, and more using a free service.

If you have any questions for me in the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out and give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

US Government Bitcoin Ransomware Attack


More than 20 municipalities in the US have been hit by ransomware attacks this year alone, the software has grown rapidly by an internet worm that spreads copies of itself by hacking into other computers on a network. These attacks can be expensive, costing not only the company, but the public time.  Especially if those targeted say they won’t pay. In 2018 hackers demanded the City of Atlanta to pay about $50,000 in bitcoin in ransomware, the city refused and the attack actually ended up costing the city about $17 million to fix the damages. These ransomware attacks have not only recently been in Atlanta but other local governments across the US demonstrate that as these attacks spread more common targets will include schools and hospitals. Can you imagine not being able to graduate or not being able to have your MRI results because all your patient files are being held by these attackers? That’s exactly what happened in Baltimore, May 7th 2019 hackers targeted and digitally seized 10,000 government computers and are demanding around $100,000 in Bitcoins to free them back up. Not only are government employees locked out and are un able to have access to their computers, files and emails, the cities public residents are effected. Services that are utilized for paying water bills are not able to be accessed, paying parking tickets, or property tax payments. Last year Baltimore’s 911 Operating System was down for about a day from a separate ransomware attack.
“Ransomware” attack, where hackers deploy malicious software to block access to or take over a computer system. The basic idea behind ransomware is simple: A criminal hacks into your computer, scrambles your files with unbreakable encryption, and then demands that you pay for the encryption key needed to unscramble the files until it forces the owner of that system to pay a ransom to get their own files back. If you have files that are very important on your computer, you might be willing to pay a lot or succumb to the demands to avoid losing them. The most effective way you can protect your computer from these ransomware attacks is to do regular backups, the malware can only encrypt and delete files that are on your computer. If you are implementing a regular backup of your files, either to an external hard drive or using an online service  and your computer is targeted then you can wipe your infected computer clean. Once clean simply reinstall its software and then restore your files from the backup copy you have. The unfortunate difficulty is most people don’t keep adequate and routine backups so they are more likely to be impacted by these attacks so negatively.

Significant Security Flaws

Big name companies have made public this week some major security flaws in their devices. While it is not uncommon for companies to disclose information on potential vulnerabilities, this week the sheer number growing rapidly seems shocking.

Microsoft is trying to prevent the outbreak of a computer system bug. A serious flaw in Windows 7, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 and 2008 systems. Which can be exploited to create malware that is capable of automatically spreading from one vulnerable machine to another. Microsoft is urging those running older Windows systems to patch their machines. However, Windows 8 and Windows 10 are immune from the threat.

Intel found a susceptibility in every chip manufactured since 2011, which using 4 different bugs would steal data from victims processor. Cisco’s 1001-X router can be compromised using 2 different bugs, which would gain access to the router, then to administrative privileges on the device. This poses some wide range implications with just how marketed both commercial and residential Cisco products are.  WhatsApp, an encrypted messenger service owned by Facebook has its own vulnerabilities by hackers implanting spyware onto a victims phone via Voice Call (even without you answering the call).

Luckily, these companies let it be known that they will be releasing patches, or make sure you download the latest version for your peace of mind.

Microsoft Gets Rid of OneDrive Unlimited Storage

logo_onedrive2014_hero1It’s time to say adios to unlimited storage from Microsoft’s OneDrive.  Subscribers of Office 365 now have 1TB of space rather than unlimited. The 100 GB and 200 GB paid plans will be replaced with 50 GB storage for $1.99, while Free OneDrive storage will go from 15GB of available storage to 5GB.  These changes will take place next year.

The unlimited storage has given users the ability to back up PCs and even store entire movies collections as well as DVR recordings according to the OneDrive FAQ page, sometimes exceeding 75TB per user.  Although OneDrive has gone from unlimited to set limits, the company still reminded its users of what can be stored with the new changes.  For instance, OneDrive Free with 5 GB is still enough to keep around 6,600 Office documents or 1,600 photos.  The 1TB can keep 1 million documents or 330,000 pictures.

You can check how much space you have consumed by visiting the Manage Storage page. If you’ve taken up most of the available storage, Microsoft will notify you to make changes within 90 days or 12 months depending on your plan. You may need to remove files or purchase more storage if that is the case.

Ransomware not yet a threat to Macs

ransomeRansomware, a malicious type of malware that works by encrypting files in exchange for a ransom, has yet to be a threat to Apple computers. This is not to say that Apple’s operating system is any more secure than Windows, it is just that malware developers have not yet figured out writing ransomware for OS X because infecting Windows machines has been extremely profitable enough.  A few security researchers even demonstrated how easy it could be to develop ransomware that targets Macs.  Rafael Salema Marque’s experiment to show how OS X can be targeted took him just a few days and security expert Perdo Vilaca created a proof-of-concept code for his Mac ransomware.

The infamous Cryptowall has proven that ransomware can be devastating to both companies and consumers alike, with losses of more than $18 million. The cost to get a decryption key could range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, and it is not unusual for the cyber criminals to not even provide the key despite being paid.

A mac user that encounters ransomware would have to somehow be tricked into running it. Apple uses security technology called Gatekeeper which blocks apps from unidentified developers from running. This will help save those from being fooled into running something that is not available in the app store or is not from an identified developer. However, security experts have found software flaws that show that Gatekeeper can be circumvented. This, along with the experiments conducted by Vilaca and Marque, show that although penetrating the OS X is not something to be worried about as of now, never underestimate the potential of these malware developers because infiltrating Mac is not impossible.


Bitdefender cracks Linux Ransomware

Those infected with the recently released ransomware for Linux should thank researchers from Bitdefender as they have created a tool that can decrypt victims’ files. They did this by discovering a major flaw in the implementation of their encryption algorithm.

The Linux.Encoder.1 ransomware works by using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which is then encrypted too by using an asymmetric encryption algorithm, RSA. This algorithm has two keys, a public key to encrypt data and a private key to decrypt it. Only the public key is sent to the infected systems and the private is retained by the attackers. However, researchers realized that once the AES keys have been generated, the program has a source of weak data-time and date. This time stamp determines when the key files were created and researchers can reverse the process and recover the AES key. The tool created by Bitdefender determines the initialization vectors as well as the AES encryption keys by analysis of the files and fixing their permissions on the system. You can find complete instructions on how to use the tool on their blog post.

Windows 10 Concerns

windows-10Ever read service agreements? Neither do I. You might want to take a look at Microsoft’s for Windows 10 though because agreeing to all the terms allows them to poke through the data of your machine. Buried within the gargantuan 12,000 word service agreement it states:

We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to.

Thankfully you can opt out of that, but keep in mind that the default of this feature is ON. Change this by going into Settings and Privacy applet. You should really weed through all the tabs as they state what types of data each app on the system can access.

Additionally, there’s Cortana. It has access to your camera, microphone, contacts, calendar, and probably all your documents.  You can turn this off in the Speech applet. You must also create a Microsoft account in order to use many services such as Skype, which is probably just another way for Microsoft to get their hands on your information.

Lastly, Wi-Fi sharing defaults to ON. If you don’t want to be sharing your Wi-Fi with your neighbors better turn this one off too.

Hidden Features of Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Google Now

Google Now on Tap is probably the most useful feature. The new Marshmallow upgrade allows you to bring up Google Now without closing the app you are currently using. Simply long pressing the home button allows you to follow a few steps to activate. Once that is done all you must do is long press the home screen and that familiar Google search screen with appear atop your current page. Now on Tap also provides information to you based on you current page. For instance, if you are listening to music on Spotify, this feature can provide articles on information about the band.


Improved Cut and Paste

Highlighting in Marshmallow gives you a set of options (Cut, Paste, Search) right above the text rather than the top of the screen as in previous forms.


Voice Search on Lock Screen

Before, the only task available directly from the lock screen were the camera and emergency calls. However, Marshmallow now allows a Google voice search-no password or login required. This is a great feature when you want to look something up real quick.


Check if your Security is Up-to-Date

If your device is participating in monthly update regimes, you will be able to check its status by going into Settings>About tablet and checking “Android security patch level.” This will tell you the last time you have received an Android security patch.  Participation among manufacturers and carriers will vary.


App Permissions

Worried about Malware? You should be. The power to prevent individual apps from accessing certain functions on your phone can help. Go to Settings>Apps> [Choose the targeted App]>Permissions.


Google in the Settings Menu

Take care of all your Google settings in one easy to find place. All your account information from the Google Ecosystem can be found in the Settings menu.


Smart Lock

Smart lock allows you to store all you Android app passwords on a Google cloud. With this feature you can keep all your passwords in one secure location by going into Settings>Google>Smart Lock for Passwords. You also have the option of being able to automatically sign in to your accounts or “Never save” for certain accounts such as a banking app.


App Power Saving Exceptions

One great feature is Androids “app standby” mode, which puts inactive apps to sleep to conserve power. If you would like a few apps to keep updating despite this feature you can make exceptions by adding them to a battery optimization exception list. Go into Settings>Battery>Battery Optimization. Use the pull down menu to choose which apps you want optimized (apps set to standby mode) or not optimized (apps functioning at all times).


Easter Egg Game

Find the “hidden” game by going to Settings>About Tablet>Keep tapping The Android Version.


CoinVault and Bitcryptor Ransomware Victims Can Now Recover Their Files

Good news for people whose computers were unluckily infected by the CoinVault or Bitcryptor ransomware-Your encrypted files can be recovered for free, that is, if you still have them. Researchers from Kaspersky Lab obtained the encryption keys from command-and-control-servers that were used by the ransomware threats. Kaspersky’s ransomware decryption service, originally set up in April, has uploaded a set of 750 keys recovered from the servers.

The two men connected with the CoinVault and Bitcryptor ransomeware attacks were arrested in September. The arrests led to the recovery of around 14,000 additional decryption keys which have been added to the research lab’s repository,

After the CoinVault ransomware program was first documented by the Kaspersky researchers, the National High Tech Crime Unit of the Dutch police seized and recovered decryption keys from a CoinVault server.  However, after that raid the program authors ultimately created a new version called Bitcryptor.

The Kapersky lab has since closed the Coinvault case after the arrests and recovery of the all the decryption keys.  Sadly, victims of other such ransomware are not so lucky. Many times there is little security agencies can do to recover victims’ files, so unfortunately it is sometimes advised to just pay the ransoms.

Surface Book Owners Reporting GPU and Display-Related Issues

Although Microsoft’s Surface book has introduced plenty of new features and capabilities, a couple complaints have been made online. Here are a list of some of the reported problems:

  1. Dell 34” U-Wide cannot be used with the dock. Screen goes black every 2-3 minutes for 10 seconds or so
  2. Cannot boot with the dock. Monitor never comes on and my Kef X300 speakers just click over and over. Have to boot with the dock, then plug the dock in.
  3. Strangest problem with color temp changes on web pages as you scroll. Goes from a light white screen to a purple or yellow hue once you hit a certain point in the page, happens consistently on long pages and easy repeatable. Happens on both the external monitor and the laptop screen.
  4. Playing MPEG files on the laptop works fine, playing the connected to the dock will give an unable to decode error sometimes, program closes other times, and plays. After it errors out 2-3 times it refuses to play until reboot.
  5. Going to a web page where there are a lot of animations or movement causes a black screen, won’t come back until you undock /redock.
  6. Cannot detach dock, says I have to close SearchUI but its not a running service that I can find, have to reboot again.
  7. After using for a while cannot run any program getting a Run32DLL.


Videos regarding the temperature problem have been posted on youtube. Visually, you can see the hue change on the page as you scroll.  Other problems include driver issues, greenish hues, and battery drains when utilizing Connected Standby. Another problem reported is the electric grip mechanism, with one side gripping hard and the other releasing easily.

Most of these problems sound like issues that can be fixed in software.