Has email communication become a distraction?

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Feb 6, 2015 9:00:00 AM

you_have_mail_graphic

Sending emails has become a quick and easy way to communicate with people around us. But now email inboxes are becoming overloaded with all types of messages. Companies treat their inboxes as storage areas, meeting notes, contract agreements and task lists. According to McKinsey Global Institute, people spend 28% of their work week (or 13 hours) reading, deleting, sorting and sending emails.

Emails have become a distraction to our workdays and prevent us from focusing on the tasks at hand. Do you ever wonder where your day went and feel like you have not accomplished the things you wanted to for the day? Have you thought about how much time you spend checking your emails and responding to every request?

As one of the first things we do in the mornings, we check our emails to find out what projects or tasks are due, what the priorities are for the day or what meetings to attend. But checking our emails has become a huge distraction. It keeps us from focusing on the tasks at hand and staying engaged in those tasks. People have come to expect instant responses from email communication. Therefore, we feel obligated to continually check our emails to make sure we aren’t missing something.

Here are a few things that help you stay focused on your projects:

  1.        Set up email filters in your mailbox so that less important emails go into these folders and you can read them at a later time
  2.        Set a time limit for reading and checking your emails. This will help to organize your day and have enough time to complete your projects. Pick a time that works for you, such as 11am-12pm each day.
  3.        Check your emails if you are looking for specific information. Otherwise, turn off your notifications so that they are not taunting you to open your mail. Better yet, close out of your email program until your designated time frame for checking emails.

Keeping a clean inbox is also important for being efficient. Once you read an email, decide if you need to respond to that email, file it away in a folder or delete it. Don’t let emails pile up and take up unnecessary storage space. If you need assistance in setting up folders or filters, River Run Computers will help you manage this process! 

 

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Topics: Technology problems, Email, Email management

Time to Review your Passwords

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Jan 21, 2015 9:18:00 AM


  

  Top 15 Worst Passwords for 2014. Did yours make the list? 

keys_sm

With the increase in cyber crimes and data theft, the need for secure passwords is more prevalent.

Yet each year, people continue to use the same, basic passwords that make it easier for someone to decipher. 

SplashData, a leading provider of security applications and services, has released its annual list of the worst passwords based on files containing over 3.3 million passwords leaked in 2014.

Here are the top 15 worst passwords:        

1. 123456
2. password
3. 12345
4. 12345678
5. qwerty
6. 123456789
7. 1234
8. baseball
9. dragon
10. football
11. 1234567
12. monkey
13. letmein
14. abc123
15. 111111

So did your password make the list? If so, it's time to change it! 

Security expert Bruce Schneier suggests, "Come up with an entire phrase that’s easy for you to remember, and then use the first instance of each letter, number and symbol from each word in the phrase, keeping punctuation intact as well."

We recommend to our clients to use a sentence for a password, including spaces. By using an entire sentence with punctuation, the length makes it harder to crack. A sentence would be much harder for someone to guess, as well.   

Brute force attacks will run through a cycle of possible passwords, getting longer and longer as it runs.  Each additional character in a password makes a brute force crack attempt take roughly 50 additional attempts (one for each possible character) to find the password.

A 9 character password could take in the area of 21,000,000,000,000 attempts to crack using a brute force attack. A ten character could take 50 times that number for attempts. So the longer the password, the better!



Changing your password is an easy way to help prevent data thieves from accessing your data. If you are using the same password multiple times across the internet, you run the risk of exposing your password if one of the services is compromised. Using a free password manager, such as KeePass, is also a great option for storing and changing all your different passwords.

Contact us or send us an email if you have additional questions!



 

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Topics: Password protection, Security

Trojan.FakeAV Virus Update

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Dec 22, 2014 4:55:00 PM

Trojan.FakeAV has been around for quite a while, however its making another debut. This type of malware tries to convince a user to remove non-existent malware or security risks from their computers by installing bogus software.

Users are offered a link to software from spam emails, blogs/forums that are spammed, malicious banner ads, pirated software, file sharing networks, or even exploited web pages.

Once installed, a constant stream of pop-up warnings appear stating a harmful virus has been detected alerting you to purchase software to clean this up.

Here is what we received via email:

email_notification_for_virus

Noted the following:

  1. From email address is from outside the US (.it=Italy)
  2. The “?” in the beginning of the body
  3. No mention of company name or logo
  4. No mention of what was “purchased”
  5. There have not been any purchases in the amount noted ($6,901) recently
  6. The attached .doc file with the supposed invoice.  This is not how any vendor in the past sends this information.

Also noticed the error in the header stating the following:

“If there are problems with how this message is displayed, click here to view in a web browser.”

This indicates that there is poorly coded HTML in the body of the message.  Viewing the source of the message verified this.  Any creditable online vendor would not be sending code riddled with errors.

The attached doc file was opened on a secured workstation to see the contents. A snip of the document is below:

Trojan.FakeAVgen29_malware

 

The document contains direction to allow an embedded macro to run.  You should NEVER allow macros to run on any Office document that you do not completely understand the source and purpose of.

I extracted the macros out of the file to determine what they did and the infection.  I found that it was designed to download a file called rkn.exe from a web host in Australia.  That file, if executed, will infect the machine with the Trojan.FakeAV!gen29 malware.  This infection is from a family of “fake AV” malware that purports to be virus protection software.  It can cause pop ups that make it appear that a virus has been found on a workstation, and that software to remove the infection can be run to remove it.  This “removal” comes at a price, and does not remove the actual malware.

What can you do if you receive a message that appears like the example?

If you receive a message that appears like the example, do not open the attachment.  Let your IT support people know you received the message, and delete it immediately and clear it from your recycle bin if requested.

How can you prevent a message like this from getting to your email?

Unfortunately, anti-virus programs may not be able to block this type of email.  The example email was delivered through a spam/virus mail filter, and not captured by desktop antivirus.  The best method of blocking this type of infection through email is to use a gateway anti-virus and spyware solution.  The SonicWALL family of firewalls can be configured to clock all Office attachments with macros from entering the local network.

Contact River Run Computers immediately if you become aware of a virus on your computers. We will do our best to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. Click on this link for our Support Desk or call us directly at 414-228-5617.

 

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Topics: Email protection, Email security, Malware, Virus Alert, Virus

Operation Global III Virus Alert

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Dec 22, 2014 12:10:54 PM

 

Operation Global III ransomware is proving to be another malicious malware that not only encrypts your data but also infects it. This virus is starting to make it’s way around the internet including some of our clients. Once this ransomware attacks your system, a lock-screen is displayed and requests that a ransom fee be paid in return for your files. All of your file extensions are changed to .EXE and if double clicked or opened will infect and encrypt every computer where these files are launched.

Luckily there is a decryption key that can unlock the encrypted files. With the help of our team, we can help recover the files that this malware has encrypted.

 

operation-global-iii-ransomware

 

ITEMS TO NOTE:

1. In addition to encrypting files, it also spreads itself to other computers by infecting the files.
2. It does not target only existing mapped drives.
It seeks out all network shares and mounts them so that it can encrypt and infect them as well.
3. If a client pays the ransom fee, there still is no real guarantee that the files will work after the decryption. The decryption piece of the malware is known to be buggy.
4. It is currently decrypt-able for free with a tool that exploits a flaw in its design. Our engineers and technicians understand how to remove this malware using this new tool. Perfect results are still not guaranteed since the malware has bugs when decrypting, and backups will end up being the most reliable source of data recovery.

SUGGESTED PREVENTIVE MEASURES:

1. Review the permissions on your networks. Make sure that only the most absolute access required is in place. The malware only has as much access as the user it infects. This is something we can work with you on.
2. Make sure your backups are in place and are running great. This is something that we do one each of your RSVP visits.
3. Report unusual file behavior as soon as you see it. The sooner you catch it, the sooner we can stop it from accessing the network.

As these different types of viruses continue to evolve and mature, it is more important than ever
to have a policy in place to protect your data.

If you believe your network security has been compromised and your computer has already been infected, please contact us right away to remove this virus and install the decryption code: 414-228-3076.

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Topics: Hackers, network protection, attacks, Malware, Virus Alert, Virus, ransomeware

The Office 365 Decision.

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Dec 9, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Microsoft_Office_365_Logo

In today’s market, subscription based software is becoming more and more popular for software developers. Many prefer to control the use of their software products through a subscription model rather than the traditional outright purchase of the software. Along with the ubiquitous nature of the Internet, this has led to offering software as a “rented” service, SaaS, rather than a product you buy once and may or may not upgrade. Microsoft’s Office Productivity suite, including popular programs such as Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint has followed suit, and for several years now has been offered as Office 365, a truly impressive, cloud-based SaaS, always current and up to date in a variety of sizes and combinations to fit a wide variety of customers.

The adoption rate has been through the roof…but, is it right for you?

There are some network management companies or service providers that actually refuse to sell and support in-house email systems believing that the cloud and SaaS models are the only viable option for their future. Fortunately for you, the client, the decision, at least for now, is in your hands. And River Run Computers will support you regardless of the direction you choose. There are good reasons to take either approach.

So what’s so good about a subscription based software package, like Office 365? Well, as mentioned above, it is the most secure, feature rich version available. If you use more than one device, say a tablet and both a home and work computer, Microsoft’s plans allow you to download their Office Suite software on up to 5 different devices at a single price, even if you have a mix of Apple and PC devices! And the software includes more than just the normal basic 4 or 5 applications you used to get with an Office license. You also get OneNote, Access, Publisher, OneDrive, SharePoint and even Lync on some plans. Each email account includes 50 GB of storage, spam filtering, and soon you will receive unlimited personal cloud storage for your files. The Service Level Agreement is for 99.9% uptime, secured backup and loads of other benefits. The plans are attractively priced and you can always change your mind and download your files and messages to an in-house solution.

So why wouldn’t you want to get rid of some of your servers and in-house network? For some, the idea of cloud storage and continuous payments is stressful and costly. They want the security of controlling their mail, controlling their files, controlling who gets what level of what software. If you have committed resources for your network, why pay for someone else’s server when you already support your own? Why pay for next year’s tweak on Word or Excel when you already have a piece of software that does the job, software that you’ve paid off and understand how to use? Why the hassle and cost for migration of your existing mail? Once you have your own servers and software installed and paid for, the reoccurring costs can be less per user.

How to decide? There are some who lease cars and some who buy and run them into the ground. Different philosophies. But at the very least you should get a full, detailed picture of the benefits and costs of either solution, for your particular situation. River Run Computers can help provide the analysis and whatever your decision, provide the expertise you need.

If you are interested in exploring the possibilities of Office 365 as a business solution, give us a call!
We would be happy to discuss this with you!

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Topics: cutting costs, cloud computing, Microsoft, data protection

Adware Installer Attempts - Take caution!

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Nov 20, 2014 1:23:42 PM


Hackers are finding more and more ways to manipulate users into installing malware onto your computer. Before clicking on a link or downloading a file, make sure you review the origin of the link. 


 

For example, I was browsing a normal local news web site I read regularly and clicked on an article link on the page. It loaded, then quickly changed to the following:

flash_player_virus

 

The URL in the address bar looked like this:

flash_virus_url_link

Looking at the page, I found the following to be odd:

  1. This is not the normal delivery for a flash plug-in upgrade.  Usually an icon in the system try would appear for this
  2. The browser I use, Google Chrome, has flash built in, so I should not see any updates for this
  3. The screen references Flash Player Pro.  There is no product called Flash Player Pro that I am aware of.
  4. The URL host of easyjavafix.com is not what I would expect an update for an Adobe product.
  5. The disclaimer text states that this page is for installing a download manager that will “install independent 3rd party software that will update the advertised program.”

I looked at the actual source of the data I received to see where the download link was pointed.  It was set to get a file from the host: secure.5-pn-installer.com

Some research on this host found that it has been tracked as a source for the following malware/adware threats:

  •          Backdoor.Win32.Bredolab.zjf
  •          Win32/AdWare.iBryte.BG application

 

Moral of the story, if you receive an update notice, be skeptical. This is only one example of an attempt to install malware. Do not assume that a link is authentic.  Always download updates from the manufacturer, or through an update server you have knowingly installed.

If you are aware of additional threats or malware attempts, let us know! We want to educate and protect all of our clients and friends!

 



 

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Topics: Internet Security, attacks, Malware, vulnerabilites, Virus

CryptoWall 2.0-Shipping Notification Emails

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Oct 24, 2014 2:16:52 PM

Another method that CryptoWall 2.0 is spreading is through the use of bogus Shipping Notification emails. These emails are coming in and alerting the receiver that their package is being shipped. To view the shipping details, the user must click a link to download the information.

We are alerting our clients not to click on the email link within these emails. We want everyone to be aware of the tactics that these hackers are using to infiltrate your system and keep your network safe from these viruses.

To view an example of the bogus email and to read more on what to look for and how to prevent the spread of CryptoWall 2.0, click here.

 

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Topics: Email protection, Cyber Crime, Virus

HIGH ALERT-CryptoWall 2.0

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Oct 22, 2014 10:25:20 AM

Similar to CryptoLocker, Cyber Criminals have released another version to the CryptoWall virus-version 2.0. This ransomware is spreading very quickly through unsolicited downloads and file attachments in emails such as pdfs and zip files. As with other ransomware viruses, CryptoWall infects an opening in the system, encrypts the users’ files (pictures, texts, files, documents, etc...) and demands payment in order to recover those files. It is vital to your organization to have policies in place to prevent these types of attacks.

Do not open suspicious email attachments

Alert co-workers, friends and family to avoid opening any email attachments from sources they were not expecting or information they may not have been expecting: banking institutions, credit card companies, faxes, quotes, or purchase orders.

These messages are crafted to spark urgency in opening the files without questioning them. In many cases, these emails contain misspellings, poor grammar, and incorrect information.

Avoid downloading applications from ads online

Once these files are downloaded, the virus is able to get into your system and start corrupting the files. The virus also encrypts any network storage files that you may have access to on the network. If you are unsure if a file should be downloaded, contact your Network Administrator.

What to do if you are infected

In order to minimize the damage already done, the easiest thing to do is immediately shutdown the workstation. If you are unsure what device is infected, it is best to shutdown all work stations in your network to limit the impact the malware is posing to your data. After you shutdown what you feel is the infected device(s) on your network, immediately contact River Run Computers at 414-228-5009.

Click here for additional information on this virus.

 

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Topics: Email protection, attacks, Cyber Security, Tech Support, Virus Alert, River Run Computers

6 Steps To Help Keep Your Computer Virus Free

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Jun 18, 2014 10:00:38 AM

Safe

The world is full of viruses, as well as spammers, trying to get on your system.   Getting infected can happen to anyone, and when it does it can lead to a great deal of stress.  It can never  be guaranteed that you can keep your computer virus free, but there are a number of steps you can take to help a great deal.   Below we have listed some of the steps to help ensure your computer stays virus free.

1)  Install O/S Security Updates

Every operating system has flaws, and as those flaws are detected it is very important that you make sure your computer is protected by installing the latest security update.   There are even tools out there to automatically install these patches.

2)  Install a strong Anti-Virus Application

There are a lot of high quality ant-virus applications available.  Be sure to ask your managed service provider what they would recommend to implement, to help ensure you are choosing the right one.

3)  Be careful of suspicious emails

Today a majority of email is spam, so you certainly should have a spam protector.  You also need to follow basic email common sense.  For instance do not open emails from people you do not know, never send account information to people requesting it, and be careful of suspicious links or attachments that you were not expecting.

4)  Surf the internet safely

When visiting a website be wary when they ask you to install anything.  Never install anything from a website unless you know exactly what it is, and you are certain it is what you are looking for.   Never install free games and stay away from sites that are likely to have the malware on them.

5)  Create a strong password for each online account

A strong password is very critical to keeping your computer safe.  You should not use the same password between accounts, do not use common words, and use a combination of letters, numbers and make some upper and some lower case.  This will make it more difficult to remember, but will be very beneficial in keeping your computer safe.

6)  Backup Your Data

As we mentioned even taking all the right steps does not guarantee you are protected. You need to have a strong backup solution that regularly backs up your files, in the event a virus does destroy your computer, you will be protected.  

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Topics: SPAM, Virus

How To Choose The Right Backup Solution

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Jun 11, 2014 1:40:35 PM

Backup solution Milwaukee

Almost every company relies on their IT network to conduct business, whether it is because of email or accessing applications and documents.  Every company would like to minimize downtime and in order for that to happen a plan must be established. Which backup method to use is one of the most important pieces to consider when formulating that plan.

Today a lot of companies rely on tape backups because it is considered a cost effective solution.  What these companies may not realize is that options like this will not be the quickest option if a restore is ever needed. These backups take longer to restore and it is possible to experience more than two days of downtime in the event of a disaster, such as a server failure.  Factors that contribute to this extended downtime can include: how quickly replacement parts are be available, installing those parts, and the ability to restore data quickly. 

To reduce the possibility of extended downtime it is important to assess your current backup system and know how much downtime is acceptable for your company. There are a number of features to look at when picking your backup solution (to achieve minimum downtime.)  First on that list would be having a backup solution capable of working automatically. This will guarantee your data will be backed up, in the event the very likely “I was working on something else and completely forgot to save that” excuse happens.  Another feature you need to have is storage onsite, this is a key feature because in the event of a server failure, you will have your data readily available.  Transferring data offsite is another critical factor in your backup solution, in the event there is major damage in your server room or entire building, you need to have access to your data at another location.    A very nice feature to have is daily incremental backups, although not critical, this feature will give you up to date information in the event of data loss and the last tape backup had not been for a few days.  A fantastic feature for your backup solution to have in order to avoid downtime would be failover capabilities, which in the event of a server crash would keep your system up and running. 

To keep downtime to a minimum you need to find a backup that can provide you some of the features we have talked about.  Today, a lot of technologies are available that allow you under an hour of downtime, at very little cost.  Many companies cannot afford major downtime to their business, those companies need to check to be sure that their company has a disaster recovery plan that will allow their business to stay up and running and avoid major downtime.  So now is that time to check with your IT department or current IT provider on what your plan is, before it is too late. 

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Topics: backup solutions

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