Ransomware Virus, how to remove?

Ransomware

At Sound Networks we have seen a recent rise in Ransomware attacks. Not only have we noticed this, but other providers have told us they are seeing the same too.

Ransomware is a type of Virus that will encrypt your files rendering them un-openable and consequently useless to you. The first thing most people know about it is when they cannot open a file and a box pops up politely asking them for payment details or bitcoins in return for providing the encryption key to unlock the file. Of course, we do not pay ransoms, (you also cannot confirm the sum asked for will in fact be that charged) so, “Is there really a way to remove ransomware viruses?” … the right question is “What’s the best way to prevent ransomware file loss?”

Backup, backup, backup…The old mantra still runs true. If you have a backup, you can simply delete the encrypted files and replace them with those from the backup. Otherwise, your options are to take your chances and pay the ransom – or lose your files. Some encrypted files have the file extension of .zepto which appears to be a new strain of what was previously naming files with the .locky extension. The filename itself called also be scrambled too.

The virus is commonly delivered as an email attachment which is currently managing to fool most Anti-Virus software in to seeming benign. Notable file type attachments are .zip and .docm. Once the attachment is opened it silently encrypts files and spreads like wildfire across corporate networks by seeking out mapped drives and encrypting those too. Once its work is done it removes itself, making tracing the offending machine on the network virtually impossible.

In summary – go careful out there. Keep an eye on your backups and if you have your own on-site mail server, look in to tightening up your Anti-Spam and Malware Filtering settings, it could save you a lot of bother.

 

Paul Cox

IT Director – Sound Networks

 

Windows 7 support has come to an end

windows 7 support ends

Yes, it’s true, this means no more updates, no more service packs, or updates to malicious software removal tools. Of course you have to remember that Windows 7 (good as it was) is now three operating systems back in time, since then we have had Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and now of course Windows 10.

The updates will stop flowing because Microsoft of course want you to upgrade to Windows 10, and from our point of view, this is a good thing. Not only is it free but where corporate users are concerned, who have multiple PC’s and want a single platform across all of them it’s a great and inexpensive way to achieve that – providing there is support for the other desktop apps they may be using.

The more cynical amongst us will of course want to know why Windows 10 is currently free – the simple answer is that it’s cheaper to support something new than something old!

Paul Cox – IT Director Sound Networks

Watch out for these World Cup scams

world-cup-2014

#1 FREE TICKETS

There are no free tickets available, however there are some legitimate competitions around for tickets to certain matches. This scam boasts an all-expenses paid trip to Brazil and all games available in the tournament. It would be a dream come true for some football fans. A leading digital security firm has identified various emails in circulation that contain a malicious zip file. Once executed it will add a Trojan to your computer and allow a hacker to snoop around and even control your machine.

#2 NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS OF WORLD CUP TEAMS AND PLAYERS

There are many unofficial sources for news for matches including information, some of which ask you to download links to access content. These are again viruses and Trojans to take control of your computer. With the promise of details information about players and current situations they are enticing, but will leave you with serious computer problems and even identity theft. It’s better and much safer to use official sources for information.

#3 FREE ONLINE STREAMS OF FIFA WORLD CUP MATCHES

Again there are sources online that promise to stream world cup matches for free, anyone can watch them, you might even need to download a “special media player” to access the content. This is a way to again control and snoop around your computer. Use official sources for watching the World Cup matches.

If it’s too good to be true it probably is!

Daniel Brown

Software Developer

Office 365 – time for a look

office 365 logo

Have you heard much chatter of Office 365 and all the other associated technologies that it encompasses – such as Sky Drive (now OneDrive), SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange? Well, they have all been around for a while in one incarnation or another, but Office 365 puts them all together ‘under one roof’.

Is it a good proposition – Yes!

Saying that, it depends on the size of your business and exactly what you want to do. To us it is perfect for small start up type business’s and those working from home wishing to collaborate with others who don’t necessarily work on the same local network.

Office 365 Home Premium for instance provides each user with a 50GB Exchange mailbox and 25GB of personal SkyDrive (OneDrive) storage. Plus you gain 10GB of SharePoint storage for shared libraries and other resources – plus half a GB extra per user seat purchased. So four users on the same Office 365 licence would get 12GB of SharePoint storage in total to place their shared documents. If additional SharePoint space is required, it is purchasable at very reasonable rates per GB.

Your SharePoint libraries can be synced to create local copies so you can work on files whilst offline and then sync back up again once connected back up to the web. Sync performance can suffer if you have a lot of data in individual libraries and a poor internet connection.

You can move your existing email domain in to the cloud and benefit from hosted exchange. View it through the office web app from anywhere with internet access or connect to it with Outlook or most mobile devices capable of supporting Active Sync.

It can also be integrated in to an Active Directory domain so it is possible to gain the best of both worlds this way, if you still prefer to have a local server as well.

All of the above and more can be had for not much more than that charged by some providers for a single exchange mailbox per annum. We think it’s a product worth looking at and taking very seriously.

Paul Cox

Newsletter February 2014

Sound Networks have had a great start to the year acquiring several prestigious new web development contracts – watch this space and all will be revealed!

Laurence has now reached the conclusion of a lengthy project to develop and launch an ecommerce site for one of our partner companies, which has resulted in a very happy customer who should hopefully see a fast return on investment.

Cloud services are likely to be a hot topic this year as were last, and we recently completed the first Office 365 installation for 2014. Utilising Microsoft Sharepoint and Sky Drive, multiple folders are able to be shared between multiple users regardless of their physical location. Sound Networks are now a Microsoft Cloud Essentials Partner.