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Do you understand the importance of cyber security?

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It is extremely important that you as the user understand why in the heck you should be concerned about the security of your device. Sure you may have heard about the tons of malware out there or the ransomware stealing millions from large corporations, but it is easy to disregard such headlines as a user. “What would anyone want with my computer?” proves to be the usual user mindset. It really does pay to be conscious however, and proactive none the less. Malware, and ransomware, a type of malware, is designed by cyber criminals with boatloads of knowledge as to how to steal your information, passwords, bank account numbers, log-ins, sensitive data and of course, your money. The general tactic appears in the form of downloaded malware or ransomware, unsuspecting to the user, waiting idly by until the person on the other side decides to take a dig into your life. Like the monster under your bed, but worse.

Malware  is something to worry about because for one, it is used to indefinitely steal your data and these days..your money. Not to mention the fact that if you happen to lose to cyber theft, not much can be done to help your case. Most cyber criminals operate in foreign countries outside U.S. legal jurisdiction, and to be honest even if they were, you still wouldn’t get your money back. It’s just not the way it works.

Don’t be a victim.

Ask anyone and they will tell you the quickest way to get hacked is by lack of updates for commonly hacked programs, basically leaving your doors unlocked and asking to be robbed, and by being tricked into installing a Trojan, the equivalent of the robber ringing the doorbell and you inviting them to stay for dinner before they rob you dry. Neither is good!

“Sure, there are hundreds of other methods: SQL injection attacks, password guessing, and so on. But nearly everything besides unpatched software and downloaded Trojans is statistical noise. In fact, if you fix the main two issues, you almost don’t need to do anything else.” – Roger A. Grimes computer security columnist for Info World

Malware can be broken down into worms, viruses, Trojans, and hybrids. Viruses spread by infecting other host files and when run initiate the malware to commence. Worms are self replicating, once started they need no further assistance. Trojans need victims to get to business. They do not spread themselves, rather the originating hacker must spread each copy to each victim separately, usually via email. The benefit to this is that unless you experience ransomware, that locks the device, Trojans can be removed once identified.

You’d be surprised the amount of users that still give away their logins to hackers every day. It’s insane. Typically the user is sent a phishing email asking for credentials and claims to be from a legitimate website. Many times the email makes a small call to action such as threatening the termination of service. Trust the website in this case, not the email and go directly to the website to confirm.

Signature-based anti-malware simply cannot keep up with the thousands of malicious programs that hit each month. That is just the truth of the matter. Some of the responsibility must be in the hands of the user, or a good IT management team. A single antivirus program can only get so far, it would be who of you to periodically run a boatload of free antivirus programs at once. Together, the programs together can identify what the single one could not.

 

 

 

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit : www.infoworld.com

July 29th Marks the End of Free Windows 10 Upgrade

windows-10If you are one of the many that is stalling on upgrading to Windows 10 for free, now is the time to make moves. July 29th marks the end of the free upgrade offered by Microsoft, after July 29th Windows 10 will cost you a whooping $119. If you happen to be content with your current Windows software, you’ll be happy to hear that after July 29th you will no longer receive those pestering notifications encouraging you to upgrade.

As of right now Microsoft has relayed no intention of extending the free upgrade period any longer than the end of July. However, with the drastic change in price, Microsoft might encounter a shift in users willing to upgrade to Windows 10. I mean honestly, if you don’t want to upgrade when it is free, why upgrade when it costs you over a hundred bucks. This leads many to speculate that Microsoft may decide to extend the free upgrade period to get even more users on board. If this speculation turns out to be true, the update notifications are here to stay.

In the event this does happen, or perhaps you just truly despise having Windows constantly in your face about upgrading, there is a simple way to turn off Windows 10 upgrade notifications for good. Downloading, Never 10 by Steve Gibson Corporation will do the trick. After you have downloaded the software, click the “Disable Win10 Upgrade” button and your PC will stop the constant nagging. If the Windows 10 installer files have already been downloaded to your desktop, click the “Remove Win10 Files” button.  Even better, after you have done this you are free to delete Never 10, as it is not needed to continue blocking the notifications. If you do decide you miss your naggy relationship with Windows 10, you are free to download Never 10 again, and easily revert the changes you have made.

 


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Microsoft will soon stop nagging users to upgrade to Windows 10

Businesses Beware- FBI warns Ransomware is on the rise

ransomeThe FBI released statements of warning this week about the rapid growth of ransomware attacks. As attacks become more frequent and sophisticated, it is crucial that businesses are proactive about ransomware prevention. The influx of attacks against hospitals has made ransomware a major threat to the U.S. healthcare industry this year and will only continue without proper protection.

Years prior, ransomware was delivered through email. Now that email systems have evolved, and spam settings have become more sensitive, cyber criminals have stepped away from email delivery. Seeding legitimate websites with malicious code and taking advantage of unpatched software on end-user computers, there is no need for an individual to click on a link in order to be infected. In a usual email attack, a user may see an email addressed to them and open it. Unsuspectingly clicking on the attachment that appears no different than any other attachment, the malware code is then able to access the victims machine and the rest is history.

Once the machine has been infected, the malware begins encrypting the files and folders on local drives, including attached drives, backups and even other computers on a shared network. As seen many times this year, organizations are often unaware of the attack until they are unable to open their files and retrieve data. Sometimes organizations are not made aware of the encryption until messages start to display ransom payment in exchange for a decryption key.

Whether or not to pay the ransom is still under debate. The FBI does not encourage payment, only because paying the bitcoin does not guarantee the safe return of sensitive data. Morally, payment would be frowned upon, as it is most certainly funding illicit criminal activity and encouraging more attacks. However, it is understandable why many have been forced to pay, simply put businesses need their data in order to survive. Unfortunately ransomware criminals know that all too well.

Prevention Measures 

  • Make sure employees are aware of ransomware and of their critical roles in protecting the organization’s data.
  • Patch operating system, software, and firmware on digital devices (which may be made easier through a centralized patch management system).
  • Ensure antivirus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and conduct regular scans.
  • Manage the use of privileged accounts—no users should be assigned administrative access unless absolutely needed, and only use administrator accounts when necessary.
  • Configure access controls, including file, directory, and network share permissions appropriately. If users only need read specific information, they don’t need write-access to those files or directories.
  • Implement software restriction policies or other controls to prevent programs from executing from common ransomware locations (e.g., temporary folders supporting popular Internet browsers, compression/decompression programs).
  • Back up data regularly.
  • Secure your backups. Make sure they aren’t connected to the computers and networks they are backing up.

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: FBI: Ransomware threat at all-time high; how to protect company jewels

What to do if you suspect Malware? We have the answers

Most often one does not know that they are infected with Malware until it is indefinitely too late. A few signs can lead you too believe you might be infected, such as incredibly slow PC performance, browser pop-ups when no browser is open, and security warnings from security programs that have never been installed on your computer, can make you feel uneasy about your machine. Try these tools to kick Malware in the butt. malware-microsoft

Update Antivirus

The software IDs within antivirus software identify existing malware based on what has come before and the latest updates available. Make sure your antivirus software is current, with all of the latest installs. Having software that is even one day out of date leaves your machine at risk for encryption. Antivirus vendors offer updates based on viruses they encounter both in the lab and in the field.

Find Safe Mode

Most malware, when designed correctly, is ready to evade System Restore points set in Windows. Perhaps this might be enough to fix the problem, but say that its not, as it most likely won’t be, try running a program designed to kill any known malware process in progress, such as RKill. The other option in this case is to boot Windows in a way that will not allow malware to get started, aka Safe Mode. By first restarting your PC (Windows 8 or 10), hold down the shift key during the boot sequence, and choose Safe Mode within the troubleshooting options.

Delete Hiding Places

You should then delete all temp files that could hide malware. To delete temp files, open the Start menu, type Disk Cleanup into the search bar and it will check the C:drive for all temp files that can be safely deleted. The software IDs within antivirus software identify existing malware based on what has come before and the latest updates available. Make sure your antivirus software is current, with all of the latest installs. Having software that is even one day out of date leaves your machine at risk for encryption. Antivirus vendors offer updates based on viruses they encounter both in the lab and in the field. After this process it is advised that you run an antivirus on-demand scanner, such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This program is a great line of second defense against malware because it often comes to the rescue if your initial antivirus fails.

No Connection

A RAT, means that someone is remotely accessing your PC. Your first step in this case is to get off the internet. Turn off the Wi-Fi, remove the Ethernet cable, turn off the router, whatever needs to be done in order to detach from the internet. Now, being disconnected from the internet ensures that you are no longer able to be controlled, but it makes it a great deal harder to receive the latest antivirus without access to the internet. The latest software will need to be retrieved from a third party PC, at a different location preferably, then transferred to the RAT PC via USB flash drive. Another option would be to reboot the computer with a CD. Running a full anti-malware utility, these CDs are sometimes called “rescue CD” and can be used without internet connection. Of course, in order to use this option, a CD player will be necessary.

Portable Help

If all other options have failed, it may be the Operating System that has already been infected, making it impossible to even download the newest antivirus software. In order avoid the OS and let the antivirus do its job, you will need to utilize portable apps through a USB flash drive. These portable apps do not require a direct installation. Apps like this consist of Microsoft Safety Scanner, CLamWin, McAfee Stinger, or Kaspersky Security Scan. You can also try a mix of many portable apps since they will not conflict as you have to run each scan individually. There are also other software options such as Spybot and Symantec’s Norton Power Eraser that specifically target a type of malware called crimeware, that run scams. Although this is measure is aggressive, and often times deletes files that might not be malware, all in the effort of safety of course.


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: How to Remove Malware From Your PC

Whats Up HTC 10

The HTC 10 had no choice but to revamp their design in order to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S7. A mere 5.6 ounces the phone feels more solid than previous models especially the G5. The back of the phone is curved, even rocking when placed on a flat surface. The front has a 5.3 inch, 2,560 by 1,440 Super LCD 5 screen. There is a physical home button complete with a fingerprint reader below the screen.

The design may have improved but the hardware still the same as the S7 and G5 with  2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 4 GB of Ram. Although not wireless charging, the phone houses a USB-C jack on the bottom of the phone and supports Quickcharge 3.0.

What really makes the HTC 10 pop in terms of customer attraction is the audio. The 10 uses two speakers, a front facing tweeter at the top and toward the bottom an edge facing woofer. This combination leads to less distortion than you receive on many other smart phones on the market. The 10 comes with a “hi res certified” headset worth about $90. A pretty nice gift if you ask me. You can tune the headset to your hearing preferences and capabilities by listening to a series of tones. The headphone amp is one of the most powerful with 1v amp connected to a 24-bit DAC.

Different than other smartphones, the photo gallery app and calendar have been replaced with Google Photos and Google Calendar. In addition the phone is pre-loaded with Facebook, Messanger, and Instagram. Not a social media wizard? Don’t get your hopes up for a cleaner phone, these pre-loaded apps are not permitted for deletion.

The HTC 10 will be available in the next coming weeks for pre-order from T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon for about $699.

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If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Hands On With the HTC 10

Microsoft – Thousands of Dollars in Free Support for Azure Users

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Microsoft is offering a new incentive for Azure users, up to $12,000 in free support for those who make a prepaid commitment to Microsoft Azure cloud for the year. This is Microsoft’s latest ploy to get more of it’s traditional users to use Azure. All offers are available May 1st, 2016 through June 30th, 2017.

For those who are already on an Azure Enterprise Agreement (EA), Microsoft plans to move you to a higher support tier for a year starting May 1st. No extra charge no matter if you are a new or existing customer. Customers within the Azure Enterprise Agreement without support, will get a year of free support, usually priced around $4,000. Those customers that have a prepaid commitment of $100,000 or that use $10,000 per month will get a even bigger present. Free ProDirect Support for the year, which is valued at about $12,000.

In addition to ProDirect Support, these customers will also receive six App Consulting sessions, in which a Azure technical professional is available for questions about cloud, app design and implementation, and workload deployment.

Microsoft is pushing hard for Azure in the enterprise, where many businesses prefer to use their own infrastructure rather than Azure. Allowing customers to try before they buy appears to be Microsoft’s focus when it comes to Azure.


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit:Microsoft: Pay for Azure upfront and we’ll give you $12,000 in free support

 

The Almighty Apple finally falls!…well sorta

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Apple released financial reports this week that revealed a decline in quarterly revenue, something that hasn’t happened since 2003. In terms of product, Apple sold 51.2 million iPhones compared to 61.17 million iPhones sold in the same quarter last year.

As Jason Perlow, writer for Tech Broiler states, Apple sits on billions of dollars in cash assets. However, the core product of the Apple corporation is the iPhone, making up 68% of revenue. Perlow points out that the smartphone market is beginning to resemble that of the PC market. What has been done, is being done again and again. Smartphone innovation  is almost to the point of little advancement, and will eventually give up shares to more price-aggressive Chinese products.

Aggressive prediction, but he has a point. Most of the model advancements we witness on the latest editions of smartphones are standard, improved battery life, sharper display, faster downloads and cloud storage. Nothing too major.

As Perlow writes, “Apple does not play by the same rules the rest of the industry does. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.” One of Apple’s best skills is creating brand loyalty within its customers. Much of how Apple sustains itself is due to repeat customers, buying their products over and over again. How many of us are filled with excitement and joy at the hint of a new Apple product release? I’ll speak for myself here, I am a shining example of the usual Apple consumer. I have two Apple smartphones, both the 6 and the 5c, an iPad, and a Macbook. I began with one device and once I learned how to navigate the Apple “language” so to speak, I was hooked.

But is this enough? Perlow doesn’t seem to think so. He makes a valid point that once someone creates something that capitalizes on the Apple magic, but for a much cheaper price, most of Apple’s loyal fan base will probably jump ship. Once the displays, the RAM, flash, batteries and so on can be manufactured in China, Apple and Samsung are going to have some major competition.

Are we worried? Not really. Apple has close to 200 Billion dollars in cash assets just sitting, and they have braved lows like this before. Usually a downturn like this one leads to a peak innovation cycle for Apple.

Go figure.


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Here comes the iPhone apocalypse and the end of Apple as we know it

 

Dropbox sets no limit for desktop file storage

 

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Dropbox announced a new initiative at their Open conference on Tuesday called Project Infinite. Project Infinite utilizes a new interface that allows users to see all of the files they have stored in the cloud within their machine’s file explorer. Users will not be required to keep local copies of each document, image, spreadsheet, or other data file, everything stored in Dropbox will be readily available regardless. Just like with any locally stored files, users will be able to move and manage their files in the cloud by moving them around inside the Mac OS X Finder or Windows File Explorer.

The current Dropbox format hasn’t changed much since its initial launch around 7 years ago. This new initiative is a big move for the company as well as the cloud reliant community. Project Infinite would build upon the original functionality of Dropbox and allow users to work with a greater volume of files, without the added hassle. As with anything else, a lot has been left unanswered when it comes to Project Infinite. Dropbox won’t say when it plans to incorporate the new version into the publicly available version of its desktop applications. In addition to the lack of a launch date, the company has not released which customers will be able to use Project Infinite once it does launch.

Dropbox has also released a new File Properties API that allows third party involvement. Users will now be able to apply custom metadata to files stored in Dropbox, enabling security applications such as data migration services and digital loss prevention services.

Dropbox has entertained the idea of paid cloud storage, trying to persuade businesses to choose Dropbox over other cloud storage options. Pushing hard for commercial adoption leaves the possibility that this new interface may be completely unavailable without subscription.

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

 


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Dropbox wants to stretch desktop file storage to infinity

 

DDoS Attacks are Making Cybercriminals Very, Very, Rich

Actually, $100,000 richer to be exact.

By sending just an email, the group called Armada Collective is easily shaking down companies and pulling in the cash. Distributed denial-of-service, better know as DDoS attacks, consist of little technical experience other than causing a website to crash by flooding it with traffic. Usually the threatening email alone is enough to get companies to pay up in Bitcoin.

This is not the first time we have heard of the Armada Collective group. Back in 2015 they became nonactive, and in 2016 alleged members were arrested. It is believed that a separate group has decided to use the Armada name in order to capitalize on previous DDoS presence.

The email looks something like this:

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Over 100 businesses have received the email threats according to CloudFlare CEO Matthew Price. However, not one case of Armada actually launching a DDoS attack has been reported. Price weighs in by saying, ” In fact, because the extortion emails reuse Bitcoin addresses, there’s no way the Armada Collective can tell who has paid and who has not. In spite of that, the cybercrooks have collected hundred of thousands of dollars in extortion payments. ”

The Bitcoin fee ranges between 10-50 Bitcoin which is about $4,600-$23,000. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how the collective determines Bitcoin amounts per company.


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: How cybercriminals earned $100,000 just by sending a DDoS threat email

 

Easy and Free- 5 security apps for Windows 10

These 5 free security apps allow for safe browsing while protecting your computer against viruses, and even remembers all your passwords for you. Sounds great to us. apps.31776.9007199266248614.e32fdc94-77ee-4dac-af90-52ca48b6eb41

Password Padlock –  Password Padlock manages all your passwords securely by first having you select a single master password. This master password is used to encrypt all the other passwords in your collection using AES-256 encryption. You can rest well knowing that your master password is never stored. Encrypted passwords are easily backed up to OneDrive, and you can backup on one device and restore to another with ease.

LastPass- LastPass remembers all your passwords for you so you can spend time working on more important things. Creating strong passwords for every account you have, LastPass keeps such passwords locked up in the easy to navigate LastPass password manager. Automatic sync across every browser and device ensures you are never left scratching your head for your password. LastPass will sign into all your online accounts for you. Similar to Password Padlock, Last Pass also gives the option to create one secure password for ultimate protection. 

Super Password Generator – The Super Password Generator uses Cryptographic Random Number Generator to make sure the password generated with the given characters are unique and never gets duplicated. This generator can also generate QR code so you can scan it with any device that supports QR Code decoding such as a Windows Phone.

Avast Antivirus Download Center- The Avast Antivirus Download Center App allows for easy access to downloads of PC security products from Avast product portfolio. It also streams the latest security news from Avast Blog directly into your windows 10 PC.

Touch VPN- Unable to access some websites or apps? Worried about unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots? Want to be anonymous and protected from surveillance and hackers? Touch VPN – the Secure VPN Proxy– is the best solution for you!


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: 5 top-rated free security apps