What a week! For those of you have not heard about the cyber threat that swept over the globe starting on May 13th, it was a bad one! It was a type of Ransomware, a malicious piece of software that hijacks your computer, specifically all of your files. It encrypts them and if you want to be able to use them, you have to pay the author. This particular piece of Malware is called "WannaCry" and I honestly don't think the name could be more fitting. If you are the unfortunate recipient of this infection, I am so sorry as nobody should have to go through that type of PC data violation.
In 20+ years of being in IT, I have had only one case of Ransomware. It happened about two years ago and also was the first time I ever had to call law enforcement. I ended up working my way up to the local FBI office and then was directed to an FBI specialist in Washington who handles cyber crime. All of their PC's and USB backup drives were infected an unusable except for one USB drive. They had a robust backup plan in place and were very diligent about switching USB drives weekly. In the end, it saved them big time. Of Note: When speaking to the FBI in Washington I asked them is there anyway to get the files back, even say for the President? The answer that I wasn't expecting was "NO." I thought for sure there would be some secret tech room where this could be resolved for the most important people in the world, but again the alarming answer was, "It just doesn't exist."
From that one experience, my whole IT world changed in regards to security. No longer was this just an issue for Big IT firms, but my company that primarily deals with companies with fewer than 20 computers was part of the cyber security nightmare.
So what did I change in my practices and recommendations? The first thing (after a lot of research and testing) was to start implementing and recommending Carbonite offsite cloud backup software for all my networks. There are a myriad of excellent offsite data backup providers but I chose Carbonite because: 1) The data is housed in the US, not a foreign country, 2) I really liked the software and interface, 3) The support that I received from them with technical issues was outstanding and as an added bonus 4) their pricing was better than most because they are trying to break into the smaller "Mom and Pop market."
Carbonite uses a high encryption technique makes the data unreadable to anyone but you! Even the techs and geniuses at their data center can't see what you are backing up, nor can I. What we can see is that if you are successfully backing up or not. As a Carbonite partner, I receive instantaneous alerts that let me know, often times before my customer, if there was an issue with the backup. Carbonite also keeps multiple file versions and has some of the most advanced Ransomware protection available. In the event of a ranomware attack and your data is compromised, Carbonite will have a backup that is not infected. They even had a dedicated support team that deals with only ransomware!
So I was sold right then and there on Carbonite! A dedicated team that I can access, a great product, housed in the US... Done deal.
The second thing that I had been preaching for a long time was for my customers to have robust profressional Antivirus Security software. Even though I highly recommended it, I would let it slide if a customer was fighting me on it. From my first Ransomware experience, I no longer let it slide. In short, you must have professional antivirus software for me to work on your network. I realized that a vast majority of my clients didn't have good software. After a lot of testing, for over 2 years, I finally became a Trend Micro Worry Free Partner.
Trend Worry Free is an enterprise grade antivirus/security package. Not only does it work well; Like Carbonite it allows me to know what is happening at any given moment on any network. Being able to know who is getting attacked, what computers are having issues with updates, etc. has proven invaluable.
The final piece of the equation in keeping safe is: Education! I can't stress this enough, knowing about security, what fake emails look like, etc. is not just something tech nerds need to know, it applies to you. If you use a computer for anything, you need to know how to keep safe. Keeping your PC updated with the latest Windows updates is a must too.
It is not a matter of "Will I ever get infected with Malware, It is a question of when will you get attacked."
The articles below are the latest on "WannaCry" if you are interested in learning more. You can access each article by clicking on it.
The Guardian: Click Here
Wired Magazine: Click Here
Independent: Click Here
CNET: Click Here
Please feel free to share with your fellow computer users.