Allison Dillow No Comments

The “Wanna Cry” Ransomware – WE CAN HELP!

It’s Not Even Close to Over… Wanna Cry?

In case you have been living in a cave the past three days…Wanna Cry is a ransomware that spreads like wildfire by leveraging a Windows SMB exploit to remotely access and infect computers running on unpatched or unsupported versions of Windows. It infects the targeted computer then moves on to others on the network and those it can find on the open internet.

237,000 computers across 99 countries have been infected thus far.

The news has reported that a 22-year-old security researcher has stopped the Wanna Cry ransomware plague.

That’s only partially true.

He found a “kill switch” in the code of Wanna Cry that will keep one strain of Wanna Cry from infecting computers.

Here’s the problem…

Now there are multiple strains of Wanna Cry cropping up across the globe.

Some with a different URL “kill switch,” and if reports can be believed, at least one strain with no “kill switch” at all. This “no kill switch” variant is believed to have been created by parties not related to the criminals who developed the first Wanna Cry code.

Whatever the final number of Wanna Cry strains ends up being, the truth is that we aren’t even close to being done with Wanna Cry. And the criminals in control of this cyber-WMD aren’t done with causing us pain.

Yes, the infection rate has slowed, but that lull is likely only the calm before the second wave of the storm – according to industry experts.

Where did Wanna Cry come from?

There is no public information on the criminals behind Wanna Cry, but the SMB exploit they are utilizing is believed to be part of a hacking toolset that the NSA allegedly created and lost control of when a group of hackers called “The Shadow Brokers” stole it and dumped it onto the dark web.

Currently, the predominant strains of Wanna Cry are being thwarted before they infect computers by utilizing the method discovered by 22-year-old MalwareTech.

He discovered that by registering a domain name that was buried in the ransomware’s code, he was able to create a “sinkhole” that didn’t allow the virus to infect the computer.

The problem is that if the connection to this “sinkhole” domain is lost, Wanna Cry will move into “infect” mode.

As we have stated above, there are now several strains of Wanna Cry out there with a “kill switch” domain name in their code. Each unique domain name must be registered so that a “sinkhole” is created for that strain.

Even with these domain name “sinkholes,” we aren’t out of the woods.

Malware Tech, the security researcher who found the first “kill switch” buried in Wanna Cry code, has stated that “WannaCrypt (or Wanna Cry) ransomware was spread normally long before this and will be long after, what we stopped was the SMB worm variant.”

There are some scenarios that will allow your unpatched computer to be infected – even with the kill switch in place. Here they are

  • If Wanna Cry comes to you via an email, a malicious torrent, or other vectors (instead of SMB protocol).
  • If your ISP or antivirus or firewall revokes access to the “sinkhole.”
  • If your system requires a proxy to access the internet – common in corporate networks.
  • If someone utilizes a DDoS attack to makes the sinkhole domain inaccessible.

What to do…

The cyber-security experts of {company} advise you to:

  • Patch your computers
  • Run a decent anti-virus
  • Make sure your backups are current and secure

Because of the high-profile nature of this ransomware attack, there will be copycats that make Wanna Cry even more virulent and destructive.

Wanna Cry 2.0 is inevitable.

It’s important that you act proactively for your company now and get the BKCS cyber-security team on your side.

We have the resources to help you stay running and safe.

Contact us now at 540.662.0084 or bkconnectedsolutions@bkcs-inc.com

Used with permission

Allison Dillow No Comments

5 Reasons You Can’t Wait Another Second to Switch to Cloud Email

Think you’ve got your email solutions all figured out?
See why you may be leaving money (and time) on the table if you haven’t considered a cloud email solution.

With the amount of discussion on the topic, few people want to think about the best way to receive and send an email. Switching to a different platform takes time and money that companies don’t often have. And ultimately, why risk confusing everyone with the introduction of new software? Choosing a vendor to manage it all serves many concrete purposes, and the longer you go flying solo, the more likely it is you’ll run into problems.

Saving Your Budget

Running your own server means paying for and maintaining the hardware and software. Between the platform, OS, power, and labor it costs to run, it’s often not worth it. Broken down over time, it’s cheaper to use a cloud service provider (CSP) than a per-user model. When every company’s budget is at the forefront of decisions, cutting costs when it comes to getting your mail should be a no-brainer.

Better Recovery

Whether your servers go down because of a blizzard or because a teenager got their hands on some malware, you’re much more likely to get your data back when you have a CSP on your side. Companies that go through hacks can end up losing valuable contacts, sensitive data or ideas forever, and try to claw back from that can be exhausting. Thankfully, both your interests and that of the vendor are the same — safe and effective storage of data.

Increased Reliability

Some emails can be pushed until tomorrow, but many are time-sensitive. Vendors keep their servers going practically every second of every day, so everyone gets the information on time. If you can’t claim the same for your own email, it’s time to consider other options. Also, your email is easily scaled to your business to allow for more (or less) communication. If you experience a surge in popularity for example, you can adjust your capabilities to accommodate the growth. Your own servers may not be as flexible.

Better Productivity

When your workers are out on assignment or even in another country, they should have a way to stay connected with work. Cloud email gives every employee the chance to access new information and last-minute changes regardless of where they are. The global servers that vendors use have a much larger reach than any private data center could have.

Migration Choices

CSPs are experienced in migrating your email from all the popular platforms. Popular choices like IMAP or a traditional exchange can be handled by your CSP if you wish, or you can potentially do it all yourself. The flexibility that companies have when it comes to transferring their data lets business owners and IT leads feel more in control over what’s happening with their precious information.

BK Connected Solutions is the trusted choice when it comes to staying ahead of the latest cloud developments and can provide you with tips, tricks and news. Contact us at 540.662.0084 or send us an email at bkconnectedsolutions@bkcs-inc.com for more information.

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Allison Dillow No Comments

The Exploding Cloud

Is It Worth The Switch?

The cloud is all over the place, but that doesn’t mean every business has jumped on-board. Find out whether or not it’s worth it to you to move your data, and who you should consider trusting if you do.  

If you still see virtual data floating around in the sky when you hear about the cloud, then it might be time to rethink this picture. The cloud might be on everyone’s minds (and lips) these days, but that doesn’t mean those who speak about it really understand what it is and how it helps. With so many players crowding the game now, it’s easy to see where the confusion comes from.

What Exactly Is the Cloud?

The best way to picture the cloud is to envision a group of people that specialize in storing data from multiple companies and organizations. Credit card information, demographic information, and medical documents are all kept in one place and organized according to efficiency and safety. The servers that hold everything are meticulously maintained and given the attention they need to continue functioning the way they were meant to. The benefits of this arrangement have been seen by both small businesses and large enterprises alike.

Security, Reliability, Savings

Essentially these are the three primary reasons you’d want to move to the cloud. Running your own servers is not only expensive, but it can also be downright inefficient. The majority of companies running their own servers are losing thousands of dollars over the years to power costs to run machines that are operating at a fraction of their capacity. Without the right controls (dedicated staff, environment fluctuations, etc.), websites can fail without notice. It can mean a loss of profits and productivity due to downtime from both customers and clients. Compare this to 99.9% uptime of cloud vendors or even higher. The cloud also gives small businesses the chance to experience what enterprise-security means regarding preventing breaches, leaks, and hacks.

Understanding the Market

IT teams can do more when they don’t have the extra hassle of needing to maintain fussy servers, but companies still have a responsibility to be involved in the process. Without the right vendor, you may find yourself having a harder time with the migration than you think. You may be harder to gain access to your information or you may struggle with upfront payments. Looking for someone who has both the reputation and the experience can make your transition a lot easier, and your costs more manageable. A good vendor knows their success is predicated upon keeping the financial, personal and medical information safe from the evil eyes. Not only is it necessary for their clients, but also to comply with government recommendations. As such, they not only spend money meeting the state requirements but also invest countless dollars in research and resources to be on the watch for new threats.

BK Connected Solutions is the trusted choice when it comes to staying ahead of the latest cloud developments and can provide you with tips, tricks and news. Contact us at 540.662.0084 or send us an email at bkconnectedsolutions@bkcs-inc.com for more information.

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Allison Dillow No Comments

Consider the Cloud, Consider Lower IT Costs

Why are so many small and medium-sized businesses flocking to the cloud?

Do you know why so many small and medium-sized business (SMBs) entities are flocking to the cloud? The impetus behind this move to the cloud is a simple one, relevant to all profit-making organizations – cost!

Costs Are Lower in the Cloud

Running an internal IT department is expensive. There are hardware costs, software costs, maintenance costs, and personnel costs.

Instead of amortizing hardware and software expensed, it is included in their monthly subscription price. This monthly cost is immediately expensed as a monthly operating expense. Moreover, subscription costs are mostly agreed to without a contract so either party can terminate the agreement. Also, by outsourcing IT, IT salaries are eliminated, or IT staff can be allocated to more productive IT work. Estimates are that cloud-based computer services are about 35% to 50% less than keeping IT as an in-house service.

Are There Advantages Other Than Cost?

When an SMB outsources its IT to a managed services provider (MSP), they gain more than lower costs. You also gain:

Data Analysis

Even if you are classified as a small or medium-sized business, you are like most other businesses and have more data than you know what to do with – your IT is not equipped to perform meaningful data analysis. Cloud providers of managed services can perform data analysis to your specifications for less than you can do in-house.

Collaboration

When you have your software and data in the cloud, anyone authorized can access it from any device at any time. This makes collaboration on documents and presentations easier.

Speed

When projects are developed in the cloud, they are completed more quickly than on location with meetings, minutes, and delays. Easier collaboration means that work is completed faster.

Measurable Cloud Benefits

Improved productivity, no infrastructure costs, are all measurable and support a business case for taking your IT to the cloud.

Better Customer Service

According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that use the cloud reported better customer service achievements than companies not on the cloud for all or part of their customer service.

However, jumping to the cloud without planning can result in a disaster. Here are some tips for making your SMB’s trip to the cloud go smoothly.

  1. Have clear objectives for what you want and expect from transitioning to the cloud. Let them serve as your basis for a Request for Proposal.
  2. Decide if you want to integrate existing data and legacy systems to the cloud. Many experts believe that it is best not to try and move legacy systems to the cloud and instead use it only for new IT projects and data storage.
  3. Take advantage of free trial offers from cloud providers. This lets you compare the features of various companies before moving to a single vendor.
  4. Make sure that when you make a comparison, you compare the same features among services – otherwise, you may be shocked as your reliance on the cloud increases.

Interested in the cloud and what it can do for you or your small business? BK Connected Solutions is the trusted choice when it comes to staying ahead of the latest information technology tips, tricks, and news. Contact us at 540.662.0084,  send us an email at bkconnectedsolutions@bkcs-inc.com or request a no strings attached/complimentary network evaluation! Visit our website for more details – http://www.bkconnectedsolutions.com/it/

 

 

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Allison Dillow No Comments

Apple Blossom – Important Office Updates Regarding Hours and Closing

With Apple Blossom officially upon us, we wanted to remind you of our office hours and closures over the next few days during the Apple Blossom Festival.

  • On Thursday May 4th, our office will be closing at 4pm.
  • Our office will be closed on Friday May 5th but will reopen for normal business hours on Monday May 8th.

In the event you need to schedule a service call or if you have an emergency, please call the office phone line at 540.662.0084 and listen for the prompts or you may leave a message for our service technicians who will be responding in a timely manner.

We are looking forward to celebrating another fabulous year of the Bloom.