malware

Top 5 Risks When You Stay with Windows 7 this 2020

Top 5 Risks When You Stay with Windows 7 this 2020 1920 1280 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Windows 7 End of Life

Microsoft will no longer be supporting Windows 7 after a ten-year stint—as announced last December 16, 2019.

The purpose of this direction is for the tech giant to pour its ample resources into more lucrative, newer technologies. Essentially, Microsoft has squeezed as much juice as it can out of Windows 7. It doesn’t make sense for them to continue providing technical assistance and software updates that protect PCs using the outdated program.

The Impact on Your Businesses

First and foremost, Windows 7 is still being used on 39% of all PCs.

And a year from now in January 2021, Windows 7 will be used on 18.7% of all PCs, which accounts for around 281 million machines.

What does that mean, exactly? That even at under 20% of total usage on PCs, there are still over 280 million systems with Windows 7 in place. At such a vast number, it’s fair to guess that small to medium businesses make up enough of those totals. Especially since many owners might wish to sidestep the costly nature of upgrades.

Though, with the removal of all support for the system, keeping Windows 7 installed will end up being more costly than merely paying for the upgrade to Windows 10.

So, as a business owner or stakeholder who may still be using Windows 7, you’re likely interested in knowing what might happen after neglecting to upgrade.

Let’s examine some of the most significant risks involved in continuing to use Windows 7 on your PC and how it can affect your workplace:

The Top 5 Risks of Staying with Windows 7

Risk # 1.      No More Technical Support

Last year, Microsoft patched 29 Windows 7 vulnerabilities in April alone.

Of those vulnerabilities, 6 were rated critical with the other 23 being deemed important.

Think about it, that’s one month alone—and the only reason those changes were made was due to an extended support phase focused on fixing flaws. Those snafus on Windows 7, since it’s an older system, have continually surged over the years. Now, without support, these issues will be seemingly never-ending.   

Risk # 2.      Heightened Cybersecurity Risk

Studies from 2018 about cybersecurity in small-and-medium-sized businesses reported that 67% of survey respondents experienced some form of cyber-attack. On top of that, another 58% went through a data breach with employee or customer information.

These stats prove that businesses are already susceptible to these attacks. With Windows 7 now lacking the infrastructure to deal with these issues, if you don’t upgrade, the consequences could be disastrous.

Risk # 3.      Additional Costs

On a per-system basis, it’ll be possible to receive extended security support. However, there’s an additional fee paid to Microsoft per computer to obtain the appropriate security updates. Furthermore, the dollar amount owed to Microsoft will double every year and caps out at a maximum of three years.

The price begins at $50 per machine—meaning by 3 years it’ll be $150 per device. If you have around 10 machines, that can prove quite costly.

Risk # 4.      Falling Behind the Competition

As Windows 7 becomes more obsolete, more businesses will be using Windows 10. 

As technologies keep improving, functionality enhances. If you’re on an outdated system, the slower it’ll run, and it’ll be less equipped to handle the state-of-the-art tools that’ll keep you ahead of your competitors.

Risk # 5. Frustrating Your Team

When your employees end up with inferior technology, their morale tends to suffer. For many staff members, it can be a bad look when you fail to equip them with systems, programs, and software that isn’t – at the very least – up to date.

If you don’t update to Windows 10 soon, your team might get the idea that you aren’t invested fully in their success. From there, frustration brews, work tends to be negatively impacted, and you’ll have an office full of employees at their wit’s end.

The Very Real Problem of Malware in the Workplace

As technology keeps reaching new heights, so does its propensity to be malicious and dangerous. Businesses far and wide must be eternally vigilant in the face of these threats that can damage both their reputation and bottom line.

For instance, recently, Landry’s, Inc., an American, privately owned, multi-brand dining, hospitality, entertainment, and gaming corporation, identified malware on its payment processing system.

The malware was designed to access payment card data from cards used in person. Interestingly, the card data wasn’t readable due to the end-to-end encryption technology used at points-of-sale. So, the malware was prevented from accessing payment card data.

Although this hasn’t occurred on a Windows 7, these attacks come from everywhere when sensitive information or money is involved. As proven by Landry’s, with state-of-the-art systems in place, these cyber breaches situations can be nipped in the bud.

So how do you mitigate these risks?

The short answer is to move to Windows 10 to receive the full support from Microsoft. This can be done by upgrading your operating system on your existing PC’s, assuming your hardware is capable of handling the demands of a modern operating system. If you PC is more than 3 or 4 years old, it is probably more cost effective to simply replace the PC.

Disaster Recovery – Planning for the worst is only the tip of the iceberg

Disaster Recovery – Planning for the worst is only the tip of the iceberg 1000 450 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Like many small or medium businesses you’ve probably paid some thought to that rare data-loss catastrophe but chances are that when it came to budgeting for that unforeseen scenario the “what are the odds?” attitude ultimately prevailed inevitably resulting in a largely inadequate disaster recovery solution or in some cases, nothing at all.

Whilst these disaster scenarios are indeed relatively infrequent it is extremely important to understand the reality of the threat and the unpredictable nature of their occurrence. One could successfully argue that within Australia the risk to business is noticeably higher than the global average due to our country being particularly prone to weather extremes and associated natural disasters whether they be fires, floods or tropical cyclones. Now planning for that major disaster is one thing, but it is easy to overlook and hence not consider the detrimental effect of many smaller incidents that can have just as large an impact on your business. This is where RTOs and RPOs come in.

When it comes to planning for a disaster every business needs to be able to determine both an acceptable period of production downtime and the limit of acceptable data loss. The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) specifies the maximum duration of loss of or disruption to production systems beyond which the consequences to business are unacceptable. Similarly, the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) specifies the maximum period of time that is considered acceptable for lost data as the result of a disaster.

rto

What is considered acceptable for both data loss and production downtime will vary depending on the type of business and nature of the circumstances however the necessity for considering and planning for the consequences of both major and minor incidents remains the same. What one business considers an event of major disruption to workflow may not be as significant an impact for another but the need to ascertain exactly what is acceptable and what consequences a particular incident will have on your business applies to all.

It must be understood that planning a solution to maintain business continuity, adhere to the defined recovery time and point objectives and mitigate the impact of a disaster is not a trivial matter and more than likely is beyond the capability of a business’s existing internal resources. There are many products and strategies available when it comes to disaster planning but determining which will suit your business’s needs is another matter. Consulting with a service provider that understands your requirements and specialises in backups and disaster recovery is crucial to ensuring a robust and reliable solution.

One of the most significant factors in recent years that has dramatically increased the need and urgency of businesses to implement a disaster recovery solution has been the prevalence of ransomware. Most people would have heard of this type of malicious software by its most common variety – CryptoLocker. For those that are not aware of what makes this type of malware so damaging it is its ability to silently access and encrypt not only the most common types of documents and files on your computer, but also any network shared folders you may also have attached to your computer. The result will be all of your most important business data being in an unreadable state at which point it will prompt you to pay a hefty ransom within 24-72 hours to obtain the decryption key without which your data is useless.

Since 2013 the sophistication and variance of this type of malware has increased massively as has the range of file extensions and genuine-looking emails that are used in attempt to get you to run the malware on your computer. Chances are you know someone that has experienced this either at work or at home or you may have been unfortunate enough to already have had your data held hostage and have had to pay the ransom to regain your important files and documents.

One of the best pieces of advice against encountering this nightmare is as old as email itself. Don’t open attachments from someone you don’t know. If it looks suspicious it probably is. Even if it claims to be from a government department, courier/postal service or a reputable bank or institution, tread cautiously as this is one of the most common guises currently in use all in order to get you to open and run that attachment.

Having said that, not everyone within your company will always be as mindful of such threats whether they be from obvious but rare natural disasters, hardware failure, data theft or ransomware and there will almost certainly come a time when recovery is needed. The best defence will always be to have a comprehensive and well-planned backup and disaster recovery solution in place before the day comes when you regret not having one. The inherent human mindset typically dictates that we don’t act or plan for a scenario until the first time it happens. There can by any number of reasons for this whether it be simply from a lack of consideration or budgetary constraints but regardless the question that needs to be asked is can you afford not to?

Handy tips and tricks for identifying malware

Handy tips and tricks for identifying malware 1000 450 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Handy tips and tricks for identifying malware
We live in a world that is dominated by computers. For many people, they are a necessity that is essential for daily life. We use them to watch videos, write term papers, do our taxes and so many other tasks. Computers truly are one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. However, there is a threat to your computer that is always lurking and waiting to cause problems when you least expect it. This threat goes by the name of malware.

If you own a computer long enough, you will eventually have to deal with this menace. Having your computer get infected by malware can be an annoying hassle that ruins your day and slows down the work you need to get done. However, if you know a few tips, you can get a resolution to these issues before they get out of hand. If you are able to identify the malware infection symptoms, you will be able to get your computer working perfectly. You will also be able to safe-guard it from being attacked by malware in the future. The five tips below will allow you to recognize that signs that your machine is contaminated with malware:

1. Browser offline

If you are not able to access the Internet, but you are certain that you are still connected to the network, a malware infection might be in progress. You will first need to go to Internet Options > LAN Settings to see if any foreign proxy is currently in use. There is malware that is able to configure your browser to allow it to enter through a proxy that is unsafe. If this is the case, eliminate these proxy settings.

2. Change of Google links and/or home page

If your home page changes by itself, this is a good indicator that malware is present. This is also the case if you click on a link provided by a search engine and you are taken to a different site. If these things are happening, there is an extremely strong possibility malware is the cause.

3. Your PC is slowing down

One of the most common problems created by malware is slowing down the computer it is infecting. The decrease in speed can be related to a specific application or the network performance as a whole. It is important to note that just because a computer is slow, it does not automatically mean malware is the cause. A small amount of memory or a fragmented system are also common causes of slow computers. Therefore, regularly schedule maintenance on your computer, such as disk cleanup, running a check-disk and defragmenting your hard-disks. If you perform all these tasks and your computer remains slow, malware may very well be the culprit.

4. Pop-ups

Every person on the Internet knows how annoying pop-ups can be. Persistent pop-ups are a prime indicator of a malware infection. To get rid of these pop-ups, you will need to use an anti-malware application.

5. Software

Using anti-malware software is the most common method of finding malware on a computer. This type of software is also able to detect adware and spyware.

Antivirus Tips for Business Owners

Antivirus Tips for Business Owners 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

antivirus-tipsYou wouldn’t leave the front door of your business unlocked, would you? In fact, you probably have a security system, one that’s responsive and that you trust will take care of your office and all of the equipment stored there. Likewise, getting proper antivirus protection is necessary to have a decent level of security for your business to protect your data from theft or loss.

With 30% of malware attacks focusing on small businesses, keeping your computer systems safe is something that must be on every business owner’s mind. While most people have personal antivirus protection, there are different considerations when it comes to virus protection for businesses. Most of the free antivirus program that will probably serve just fine for you simply don’t cut it when it comes to protecting your business. Here are the antivirus tips for business owners we wish everyone took just a lot more seriously!

Low footprint

It’s important that your antivirus program doesn’t put a strain on your computer resources. One big issue with some antivirus software packages is that they slow up your computer system carrying out important functions such as virus scanning. This is so distracting that it’s estimated that up to 50% of people turn off their antivirus protection in order to get their computer to perform at decent levels. Of course, this then opens the computer up to the same security issues that they were trying to avoid. Before buying antivirus software, check the guidelines or research the minimum and recommended requirements for optimal performance. In addition, there are some cloud based solutions that will allow you powerful antivirus protection without using up precious computer resources, so it may be worth looking into these cloud based antivirus program.

Reputation

The feedback and reviews on the performance of the antivirus software will give you an idea on how well the antivirus software will work for you. The number of downloads and the comments about the various antivirus packages will often give a decent idea as to how well the software performs and any noticeable shortcomings. Also, ensure that the software you use is from a reputable source as many antivirus programs are actually malware in disguise.

360 Security

A complete and holistic approach to security is important to have for any business antivirus security. The best antivirus packages provide more security besides scanning your computer files for viruses. For example firewall protection, scanning of emails and checking whether internet sites are safe are all important components of a great antivirus program.

Multi-user licensing

Since you’re running a business, you probably have a number of different computer systems for yourself and staff. Of course, it’s important that every single system is protected by antivirus software. While personal software usually comes with limited licensing, business packages will allow for multiuser licensing that will allow you to protect multiple computers by paying a fee for additional systems. When considering multi-user licensing, it’s important to consider which package best suits your needs both in terms of protection and finances.

Management

As a business owner, it’s important to be able to decide what settings that you’d like to put in place when it comes to antivirus security. The last thing you want happening is for an employee to turn off or remove the software for one reason or another, exposing your entire system! Ensure that your antivirus programme allows you the freedom to install and operate on multiple systems and that you can manage settings from one central location.

Protecting your computer systems from antivirus attack is as important as keeping them physically safe from theft or destruction. As a business owner, your best bet is to use a business antivirus security package that will offer more protection than a personal package. By taking into consideration the issues above, you will be able to best figure out the right antivirus software package for you, keeping your business safe and running smoothly. If you think your business may be at risk of viruses, malware, or malicious hackers, get in touch with us for a no obligation consultation.

Malware Attacks – Is Your Business Protected?

Malware Attacks – Is Your Business Protected? 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Earlier this month antivirus companies discovered a new and exciting, quite nasty piece of malware on the Internet. Short for malicious software, malware is often used to gather access to sensitive information, or to infiltrate and disrupt computers and networks.

Those pesky cyber criminals have been hard at work, creating a nasty program that will essentially lock all of your files with an uncrackable password. But don’t worry, they will return to save the day with the password and a hefty price tag!

The malware is generally deployed to people via infected websites and via phishing emails. They know how important data is to your business, and that’s why they are targeting small and large companies.

Think of it like this:

  1. A virus infects your computer, generating a public key.
  2. It then scours your computer and network, gathering all the data it can find.
  3. The virus contacts the keylogger’s server, and requests a private key.
  4. This private key is simply a super password that cannot be cracked (unless of course you are the NSA).
  5. Now they have something you need. Something that you would pay to get back.

 

malware-explained

It’s like having two locks on your data, and a criminal organisation wants you to pay for their key to access it.

 

You may have read about some instances of this kind of cyber fraud that have been leaked to the public. One in particular that shocked us the most was a medical practice in Miami, Gold Coast. The malware virus that infected their systems forced them to roll back 1 year of patient records – the virus had even encrypted all of their backups. Scary stuff.

Here are a few tips and tricks I recommend to companies who want to avoid this nasty:

  • Conduct regular Offsite backups
  • Conduct user training on phishing emails
  • Carefully read emails
  • Check all links in emails before you click them
  • Do not open dodgy or questionable attachments

Below are also some handy articles we recommend you read or pass onto staff:

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4933

And here is a great article on some examples of this exact attack happening to companies:

http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/security-it/web-hijack-gangs-hold-businesses-to-ransom-20121223-2bsj4.html

Make sure you keep your computers and network up to date with all the latest security patches. If you’d like an assessment of your IT infrastructure, feel free to get in touch with us.