Dave Masterson's thoughts on technology happenings, personal experiences, travels, work, fun, etc.

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Device Security and Ransomware

I just finished a webinar with our team and the experts from Webroot. There are so many new threats designed to cripple your data, the newest trend involving trojan viruses being labeled "ransomware."

It is important to realize that these new variants can attack both Windows PCs and Apple OSX machines.

Ransomware loads on your device usually as a result of "tricking" you into downloading a malicious file. These can come in emails disguised as updates for Adobe Flash or other popular software. Some are email attachments that look like resumes or tax documents, two things that would stir curiosity and entice a user to progress to opening those files. Once infected, ransomware rapidly encrypts most known file types on your machine. Then the agent informs you that you have become a victim. Your only recourse is to pay a "ransom" online using what's called "dark web-commerce currency" like Bitcoin. I am saddened to inform you that even after paying the ransom, some user files are never restored to normal. It's a dangerous position to be in as a result of one errant click of the mouse.

The best defense against these threats includes an aggressive backup strategy, Webroot Antivirus and a firewall that strictly controls Internet access.

  • The backups help if you do become infected. The backups should be "air gapped," meaning they are not accessible from your computer through a mapped network drive or always-attached removable storage device. Carbonite works, Apple Time Machine can work but is quickly being targeted by the hackers for infection along with your files.
  • Webroot is a best-in-class threat detection software. It protects you against viruses, malware, spyware and potentially unwanted applications or PUAs. The data fueling Webroot's awesomeness lies on the INternet, not locally on your harddrive. This advantage means no missed updates and no clogging of your system's resources due to years worth of antivirus signatures. That approach is so 2014!
  • A firewall that really limits what you can and cannot do online. NetBender, also known as DNS Thingy can offer a unique method of protection against ransomware. This system operates off of a "whitelist" (Previously approved as safe) lcollection of websites. It will not allow advertisements to load or you to visit sites not on your "whitelist" to be visited. Ransomware has to communicate with secret servers (setup by hackers) to do it's damage and attempt to collect your money. Because this nifty device never approves that lethal relationship, the ransomware cannot fully deploy on your device.

At Nerds On Site, our relationships with top tier security firms such as Webroot keep us very much at the forefront of dangerous issues such as ransomware. Call us at 877-696-3737 for information on how we can keep your data and computing environment safe from these rapidly emerging threats. As we say in many of our marketing pieces, "Leave the Nerdy Work to Us!"

For more info, use these links...