5 Steps You Should Take Today to Minimize Your Data Loss Due to Ransomware

FBI Ransomware Alert

You’re concerned about getting ransomware as everyone should be, but you don’t know what you can do to minimize your risks. Follow these five steps to reduce the chances of your data being hijacked and falling victim to ransomware.

  1. Make regular backups.
    This is Ransomware Defense 101. The scammers want to restrict access to your data, but if you have a recent backup copy of it, you’re one step ahead of them. Organize your vital data so that it is stored in a secure location, and regularly back it all up. – You can back up your data to an external USB drive, or have it backed up to the cloud (we recommend doing both!) How often you back up your data should be based on how often your files are updated. Daily user? Backup daily!
  1. Keep your computer updated.
    Whatever platform you’re using, desktop, tablet, or smartphone, stay up-to-date with your operating system updates and security patches. Did you disable Windows Update? Switch it back on, and make sure you’re running the latest version. *Note – Windows 7 stopped receiving critical updates in January 2020. It’s imperative that you upgrade your operating system to Windows 10 to ensure you’re receiving the latest updates and security releases.
Windows 10 Security Updates
  1. Spot suspicious files, enable file extensions.
    One way of combating ransomware (and other malware) is to use your eyes. Many malicious tools have multiple file extensions (such as, for example; .PDF .EXE) which immediately identifies them as dangerous if you know what you’re looking for. By enabling file extensions in Windows, you can spot and delete them (or let your anti-virus software destroy them).
How to Enable File Extensions
  1. Email Filtering and Hyper Vigilance.
    Most desktop email clients automatically scan incoming messages for malware and viruses that are attached, but hackers are constantly trying new methods to deliver their malicious files to your PC. As a general rule, you should never open an email or an email attachment from someone you don’t know or recognize. To avoid filters, hackers will send you a link that will lead you to a site that will automatically start the download of a malicious file. It’s best to avoid clicking on any links that are received through email, even if the link looks legitimate. Hackers will often change one letter within a domain address, which will lead you to a malicious site. Stay Hyper Vigilant!
Carefully Scrutinize Your Emails
  1. Employ a Firewall and Internet Security Suite.
    As with all data security challenges, the best protection you’ll get from ransomware is with a competent internet security suite and an up-to-date firewall. There are many options available for your network and internet security. Give us a call if you’d like to learn more about our recommendations.
ESET Antivirus and Endpoint Protection

CREG Systems deploys a myriad of tools to help protect our partners and mitigate their risks or malware and ransomware. Call us today to learn more about how we can help secure your network and keep your data out of the hands of cyber-criminals.

CREG Managed Security Services

Data Privacy Day January 28

Data Privacy Day is an international effort to empower individuals and encourage businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust.

Data Privacy Day is a global effort — taking place annually on January 28th — that generates awareness about the importance of privacy, highlights easy ways to protect personal information and reminds organizations that privacy is good for business. Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. Data Protection Day commemorates the Jan. 28, 1981, signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. Data Privacy Day is observed annually on Jan. 28.

Data Privacy Day is the signature event in a greater privacy awareness and education effort. Year-round, NCSA educates consumers on how they can own their online presence and shows organizations how privacy is good for business.

In 2021, NCSA is encouraging individuals to “Own Your Privacy” by learning more about how to protect your valuable data online, and encouraging businesses to “Respect Privacy”, which advocates for holding organizations responsible for keeping individuals’ personal information safe from unauthorized access and ensuring fair, relevant and legitimate data collection and processing. These themes are encouraged through the below messaging and calls to action:

Calls to Action

  • Personal info is like money: Value it. Protect it. Personal information, such as your purchase history, IP address, or location, has tremendous value to businesses – just like money. Make informed decisions about whether or not to share your data with certain businesses by considering the amount of personal information they are asking for, and weighing it against the benefits you may receive in return.
  • Keep tabs on your apps. Many apps ask for access to personal information, such as your geographic location, contacts list, and photo album, before you can use their services. Be thoughtful about who gets that information, and wary of apps that require access to information that is not required or relevant for the services they are offering. Delete unused apps on your internet-connect devices and keep others secure by performing updates. 
  • Manage your privacy settings. Check the privacy and security settings on web services and apps and set them to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, application or browser you use will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information. Get started with NCSA’s Manage Your Privacy Settings page:https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/managing-your-privacy/manage-privacy-settings/

Respect Privacy

ADVICE FOR BUSINESSES: RESPECT PRIVACY

According to a Pew Research Center study, 79% of U.S. adults report being concerned about the way their data is being used by companies. Respecting consumers’ privacy is a smart strategy for inspiring trust and enhancing reputation and growth in your business.

Calls to Action:

  • If you collect it, protect it. Data breaches can not only lead to great financial loss, but a loss in reputation and customer trust. Follow reasonable security measures to keep individuals’ personal information safe from inappropriate and unauthorized access. Make sure the personal data you collect is processed in a fair manner and only collected for relevant and legitimate purposes.
  • Consider adopting a privacy framework. Build privacy into your business by researching and adopting a privacy framework to help you manage risk and create a culture of privacy in your organization. Get started by checking out the following frameworks:
  • Conduct an assessment of your data collection practices. Understand which privacy laws and regulations apply to your business. Educate your employees of their and your organization’s obligations to protecting personal information. 
  • Transparency builds trust. Be open and honest about how you collect, use and share consumers’ personal information. Think about how the consumer may expect their data to be used and design settings to protect their information by default. Communicate clearly and concisely to the public what privacy means to your organization and the steps you take to achieve and maintain privacy. 
  • Maintain oversight of partners and vendors. If someone provides services on your behalf, you are also responsible for how they collect and use your consumers’ personal information.

We offer cybersecurity services to businesses that assist in the education of employees and mitigate cybersecurity risks

Defendify by CREG Systems Cybersecurity Platform

  • Cybersecurity Risk & Assessment Tool
  • Alerts
  • Cybersecurity Policy Builder
  • Incident Response Builder
  • Dark Web Scanning for Stolen Passwords
  • Phishing Simulation Tool
  • Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training Videos & Webinars
  • Cybersecurity Awareness Poster Library
  • External & Internal Network Vulnerability Scanning
  • Threat Penetration Testing (Ethical Hacking)
  • Website Scanning

Many businesses do not believe that they are a potential target of cybercrime. Personal information is not limited to your basic social security number or credit card information. For instance, it can include recipes as a restaurant owner all the way to market strategies. To find out why you could be at risk of a cyberattack, watch our webinar on cybersecurity!

With COVID-19 and the transition to a remote workforce, your business can be at an even greater risk. Read why remote workers are more vulnerable to cyber attacks here! https://cregsystems.com/index.php/covid19-makes-remote-workforce-vulnerable-to-cyber-attacks/

Our staff are trained and certified as Certified Information Security System Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker, and Certified Wireless Network Administrator and holds CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, Windows Server 2016, and Microsoft Exchange certificates. In conclusion, our staff is the best equipped to deliver you the best cybersecurity in the North Country.


Local Hospital Latest Victim of Ransomware

On Saturday, July 25th, our local hospital experienced a cyber-attack. Samaritan Medical Center had to shut down its entire computer system. Therefore, employees have to return to paper and pen to operate. Patients are still being taken care of, and the hospital expects to reschedule patient procedures that have been deemed non-urgent.

Hospital Impact

The size of the attack is unknown; however, the impact on the hospital and personal information has been minimal. Cyber attacks are avoidable if you have robust cybersecurity, awareness, and know the cybersecurity best practices.

At CREG Systems, we believe that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. In other words, we all play a part in keeping our networks safe. Organizations, their leaders, users, and the solutions provider all work together to manage your cybersecurity.

Multi-Layered Security

We recommend a multi-layered approach to your network and data security. A multi-layered security approach uses several security measures to protect essential information. The numerous “levels” of security make it difficult for hackers to get through every barrier. For instance, a hacker may get past the spam filter on your email, but cannot get through the antivirus software.

We offer cybersecurity services to businesses that assist in the education of employees and mitigate cybersecurity risks

Defendify by CREG Systems Cybersecurity Platform

  • Cybersecurity Risk & Assessment Tool
  • Alerts
  • Cybersecurity Policy Builder
  • Incident Response Builder
  • Dark Web Scanning for Stolen Passwords
  • Phishing Simulation Tool
  • Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training Videos & Webinars
  • Cybersecurity Awareness Poster Library
  • External & Internal Network Vulnerability Scanning
  • Threat Penetration Testing (Ethical Hacking)
  • Website Scanning

Many businesses do not believe that they are a potential target of cybercrime. Personal information is not limited to your basic social security number or credit card information. For instance, it can include recipes as a restaurant owner all the way to market strategies. To find out why you could be at risk of a cyberattack, watch our webinar on cybersecurity!

With COVID-19 and the transition to a remote workforce, your business can be at an even greater risk. Read why remote workers are more vulnerable to cyber attacks here! https://cregsystems.com/index.php/covid19-makes-remote-workforce-vulnerable-to-cyber-attacks/

Our staff are trained and certified as Certified Information Security System Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker, and Certified Wireless Network Administrator and holds CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, Windows Server 2016, and Microsoft Exchange certificates. In conclusion, our staff is the best equipped to deliver you the best cybersecurity in the North Country.


Ransomware Tycoon: New Threat

What is Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that targets a victim’s file. The malware the user out of their data or steals the files through the use of encryption. The attacker then threatens to expose the files unless the victims pay a ransom. The most common form of payment is bitcoin. Ransomware delivery is in the way of phishing attempts. A phishing attempt is an email with malicious links attached to get the victim to click on these links, which unleash the ransomware into their files. Once the files become encrypted, it is nearly impossible to gain access to the data without the encryption key held by the attacker

Attackers have found a way around Windows 10 ransomware protection.   A new kind of ransomware known as Tycoon has found a way to target Windows devices. This ransomware uses a Java file format to disguise the malware until it reaches the desired files quickly

Blackberry Research

An educational institute fell victim to this kind of attack. The institute called in a consulting agency known as KPMG, which also partners with Blackberry’s Security research unit to investigate the incident. The attack was carried out by hacking into a remote desktop and deploying a backdoor to gain entry to the network. Once they have access through the back door, the attacker goes into a period of no activity. The period of inactivity can last anywhere between a week to a couple of months. After the period is up, it enters through the backdoor and disables any antivirus software to minimize the possible detection of the attack

The first detection of the ransomware Tycoon was in December 2019. Tycoon is present in Windows computers mostly, but researchers believe it can infect Linux systems. The number of victims has been minimal leading experts to believe this is a particular and targeted attack. Many of the victims include educational and software institutes. Since this type of attack can go undetected effortlessly, experts assume that the number of victims is higher than recognized. There are some ways to prevent an attack like this from happening

Check out our blog on ransomware and how to avoid it!