IT Security Is Essential To Guard Against Malicious Threats

Unfortunately there seems to be no end in sight with the continual onslaught of malicious ransomware threats. CrytoWall 4.0 has recently been attacking computer systems across the globe. It’s evolved from the CryptoLocker virus last year which crippled networks and extorted over $3 million from victims. To help guard against this type of ransomware threat ensure your  system is fully protected and checked over by IT Security experts.

Besides evolving to be more evasive and out manoeuvring outdated antivirus protection, the prevenance of ransomware occurs as many computer users are unaware of what it is exactly and just how easily their system can be compromised. Ransom ware can easily compromise a computer when someone opens an email with an infected attachment.

These emails may be disguised as  government letters from organisations such as the taxation office, Medicare or Australia post. Once open,  the ransomware attachment  encrypts files and demands a payment to restore the computer or else the user will have it wiped completely by the deadline! In many cases, even if the ransom is paid the users files are left corrupted and worthless.

To ensure your protection against this type of malicious ransomware activity it essential to have your system checked for any weaknesses by a professional IT Support technician. They can check to see if your backup system is running effectively. Also to ensure your system is running the latest updates and security patches. Your antivirus and firewalls will also be checked to make sure your system is fully protected.

Besides professional IT support its important to remember to never open any spam mail or attachments from a sender you don’t recognise. Its mind bogging the amount of people who do so not realising the destructive consequences of their action. It’s important to educate your family and friends about these type of malicious treats online as they may well open the cryptowall 4.0 without realising their mistake.

It you unfortunately fall victim to this scam, call your trusted IT Security technician ASAP for assistance. The last thing you want to do is pay the cyber criminals, especially is if isn’t guaranteed they will restore your computer. If your backup was running smoothly, your computer technician will be able to restore your information, up until the most recent back up and format the system. Vigilance is the key, stay protected and don’t open suspicious mail!

dreamstime_m_10241053

Advertisements

How to create the perfect password

Everyone needs to be careful when it comes to online security today and creating new passwords can become almost a daily occurrence. But with so many different stipulations and requirements for each site or account which asks for passwords it can be incredibly difficult to remember them all. Although there are now many different ‘password managers’ available, there is also a free and equally easy way to create unique but entirely memorable passwords for every single account using one base password. And here’s how to do so in two simple steps:

  1. Firstly, pick a base password which is easy to remember but not easy to guess. Online security tips all tell us to avoid using your name, a pet’s name, your birthday etc as these can be easily guessed by hackers. One suggestion is to select a regular word (preferably at least eight letters long) and swap out some of the letters for numbers or symbols. For example: Password can become Pa$$w0rd. This way a ‘dictionary attack’ won’t identify the characters as forming a real word. You’re also assured to comply to any account’s requirements when it comes to upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers.
  2. Now comes the clever bit: when you create a new account, you are going to incorporate the name of the website/server into your passwords. To create this unique password, you take the first four letters of your base password, add in the first four letters of the website, and then finish off your base password. For example, say you’re setting up a Facebook account. Your password would become: Pa$$facew0rd. Or maybe you need a new Gmail: Pa$$gmaiw0rd. Both of these combinations scored 99% on the Password Meter’s online strength test (http://www.passwordmeter.com) and would take a computer 34 thousand years for a computer to crack each one (https://howsecureismypassword.net).

Using this very simple technique, every single one of your passwords will be different, completely nonsensical to someone trying to hack your system, and, perhaps most importantly, easy to remember. They’ll also tick all the boxes when it comes to including upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. From Pa$$twitw0rd to Pa$$amazw0rd, your Twitter and Amazon accounts will be secure and you’ll never have to worry about forgetting passwords or online security ever again!

It takes time to go through all your existing accounts and change your passwords to follow this technique but, believe me, it’s worth it. Think of all the time you’ll save in the future thanks to the fact that you’ll never lock yourself out of an account again!

dreamstime_m_46672712

Protect Your Business With Help From IT Security Melbourne Experts

Last year Hewlett Packard sponsored a report on malicious activities online and their impact on businesses. Titled, 2015 Cost of Cyber Crime Study, it was conducted independently by Ponemon Institute and is a very detailed report into to the detrimental effects these attacks can have. If you are running a business it would be worthwhile reading the report and ensure you are suitably protected against potential cyber crime with the assistance of a qualified IT security Melbourne professional.

The study was conducted globally and investigated a range of businesses within the following countries: Germany, Japan, United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Brazil and Australia. Statistics were complied and then separate reports were generated for each country. The United States had the highest total average cost of cyber crime with over $15 million dollars estimated to be lost by the business involved in the study!

In Australia the study found that cyber crime had risen 13%  since the previous year. The 28 organisations taking part had an estimated loss of revenue between $792,932 to $18 million. The average cost being estimated at $4.9 million per year! These are extraordinary figures which highlight the need for your business to be suitably protected. An experienced IT support Melbourne technician can conduct a security audit to see where weaknesses are in your system.

cyber crime cost
Cost of Cyber Crime Annualized Total Cost

Other important findings that the Cost of Cyber Crime Study report found were:

  • Cyber crime costs differ between the size of an organisation. Unfortunately small businesses suffer higher costs per capita than larger businesses.
  • No industry is exempt from cyber crime. Some of the most targeted organisations include energy and utility services, financial sectors, technology industries, media, consumer products and retail stores.
  • Cyber attacks can be very costly to a business is not rectified quickly. Keep in mind the average time to resolve a cyber attack was 31 days. Some malicious attacks may lay dormant to reappear at a later stage, causing more havoc.

To alleviate any worries and be able to focus on running your business successfully and smoothly, leave IT Security Melbourne to the professionals who can close any loopholes in your current system. Don’t let your business become another victim of cyber crime!

IT Support is Vital to Keep Your Business Running

Businesses both big and small rely on computer systems to keep their production running smoothly and staff working productively. Unfortunately if valuable computer equipment isn’t serviced regularly them systems can fail, leading to very expensive down time for business due to loss of revenue while the issues is identified and rectified. The best way to keep your business running smoothly is by incorporating preventative maintenance by your trusted IT support professionals.

When computer systems fail they can have disastrous consequences as experienced in the United States earlier this month. Three major corporations systems all failed on the same morning. Initially cyber hackers were blamed for the “coordinated attack” but this theory was denounced by authorities as the computer failures were completely different and were a result of internal malfunctions and server overloads.

United Airlines had to ground all flights temporarily due to a network connectivity issue with their computers being unable to communicate with each other. Everything from checking in to booking systems were down for over an hour. This threw staff and passengers into chaos with disrupted travel plans and people missing their connecting flights.

Not long after this incident, the New York Stock Exchange were forced to suspend trading for around 4 hours due to an internal technical problem which was revealed to be a configuration issue. This technical glitch certainly didn’t help investor confidence. The next system to fail was at the Wall Street Journal’s website, with speculation that server overload was the main cause. Large amounts of online traffic tried to access the Journals site after the NY Stock Exchange’s forced closure.

It’s astonishing that such large businesses can have computer system failures. Situations like these highlight the importance of computer maintenance to help prevent this happening to your business. IT support Melbourne can assist with preventative maintenance to ensure your computer system is kept up to date and any issues are identified quickly and fixed before they become a major problem.

A professional IT support consultant can help support your business by ensuring:

• that your backup system is working properly
• virus protection is functioning and up to date
• setting up a reliable firewall
• update your system with the most current security patches

All of the above features are essential to keep your business protected online and if anything were to occur unexpectedly, there would be the most up to date backups available to get your system up and running in no time.

IT Support Melbourne Can Assist in Keeping Your Children Cyber Safe

Children of today are extremely tech savvy, in many cases they know much more about using computers than their parents do! Unfortunately the online world can at times be a sinister place for children with undesirable individuals trying to communicate with them. If you are unsure of the best way to ensure their safety online than its advisable to contact professional IT support Melbourne who can help guide you in the right direction.

Parents have very busy schedules, between working and raising children, it can be very hard to find enough time to monitor their online activities every moment they are logged on. Regrettably young children whose family computer isn’t suitably protected have been exposed to very inappropriate content online, such as pornography. Other children are unknowingly giving out personal details to strangers or are exposed to severe bullying online. It’s important to teach your children the following to help keep them protected:

• Teach your children to never share their passwords.

• Ensure they log out of their computer after finishing work. This ensures no one else can access their personal information.

• Be cautious of opening emails and attachments. Best to follow the “Stranger danger” message; they shouldn’t communicate with people they don’t know.

• Never give out personal information, such as home address, phone number etc.

• If they use social media, ensure their settings are private. Also advisable to get an indication of which friends they have online. How well do they know them?

• Ask if they have ever been made to feel upset by others online. Cyberbullying can be devastating to impressionable children. Make sure they limit contact from those that are bullies, avoid responding and report the abuse. Detailed advice can be found online at esafety.gov.au

• Install a valuable sense of self-respect with your children. Teach them that undesirable information and images can remain online indefinably. It’s important for their reputation, future relationships and employment prospects that they don’t cause themselves harm online by posting detrimental content.

As parents, you want to protect your children as much as possible. It’s important that your computer is protected to ensure they aren’t exposed to harmful content and contact with strangers. IT Support Melbourne can assist by ensuring your antivirus and firewall is formatted correctly and up to date. They are many privacy settings that need to be activated and parental control software can also be helpful to prevent inappropriate content showing up while your child is logged on.

The Importance of Penetration Testing

We get asked all the time what’s the point? Am I really exposed to risk here? How important is penetration testing? The bank would cover any money I lost anyway right? Well before I get started I’d like to share a quick story of a Financial Adviser based in Melbourne.

They as many people thought their money was protected and earlier this year had 300k+ fraudulently removed from accounts. They didn’t have cyber insurance but the banks did refund the money approximately 3 months later. On the down side they were not able to make pay roll, lease payments or Tax liabilities which ultimately sent them bankrupt.

Now the exploit used was a very simple key logger that could easily have been prevented with some basic protection. The IT company appeared to be doing a great job as the computers ran well, great up times and response times but they didn’t have their eye on the ball with security. Antivirus and a firewall simply doesn’t cut it these days. Companies need intrusion protection, vulnerability scanning and most importantly regular third party Penetration Testing.

A useful tip we give to our clients is ask your IT company this… Can you give me a report today on our vulnerability Scans? If they hesitate or advise they can get it to you next week then they are not doing any. It takes 30 seconds to run a report when scans are being run daily. At this point you should be alarmed and getting third party Penetration testing completed pronto.

Don’t be low lying fruit or an easy target. Security isn’t rocket science – it’s simply risk mitigation by not being vulnerable to simple exploits.

As always folks keep on top of your security and have a fantastic Christmas and New Year from the team @ Ctrl IT

Penetration Testing: Proactive Defense for your Business

Penetration testing is a process of determining if your network or business is secure or susceptible to unauthorized access by third parties. There are many different way of getting access to a network or business, including external attacks over the internet, social hacking and physical access. The article explains in more details these types of attacks, and how you can be best informed of your potential vulnerability to them, by employing penetration testing.

External penetration testing involves the use of specific designed software to scan the external IP address(s) of a network to probe for open ports. Through these ports, depending on the protocol they use, exploits can be targetted to gain access. For example, if port 23 was found to be open, then it could be assumed that this would be for a router, and the username and password could be brute forced via telnet. If port SSL port 443 was found to be open, then the Poodle exploit could be potentially used to execute remote code.

Social hacking forms part of the process of penetration testing. Your system is only secure if your staff are adequately trained with simple security procedures, such as locking their PC when leaving and never giving out a password to anybody – even a system administrator. Advanced social hacking techniques are usually creative and rely on confidence of the attacker to bluff their way into unauthorized access.

This leads on the physical access hacking. By using a combination of Social hacking and physical access, an attacker may be able to gain physical access to a machine and compromise it with something as small as a custom created USB stick. A temporarily unattended reception PC, or an unattended unlocked computer can be compromised in seconds using available technology.

A full penetration test checks your vulnerability to all of these attacks and provides important information to help keep you secure. The result can include simple things like account lockout polices, preventing physical access to machines in public places and most importantly – the patching of any software vulnerabilities.

Article by Steven Ward from CTRL IT – www.ctrlit.com.au