Archive for January, 2015

So, a copy of Windows walks into a bar….

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by Jeff Gaura No Comments

Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 soon.  When it goes “live” that will put 4 distinct production versions of Windows in the category of supported.

Sometimes, small, medium and large represent too many choices.  Now, we are offering small, small medium, medium large and large.  I can’t even type that without having to think about what I am saying.

Three kinds of gas are not the most efficient way to offer fuel, but give folks more than 4 kinds of gas, and it gets to be overwhelming.  Three sizes of Pizza is enough.

Do you really think this will last?  Will people really embrace the idea of supporting 4 flavors of Windows internally?

People, Windows 7 may have been the path of least resistance to address the end of Windows XP; but, going to what will soon be the oldest of 4 supported operating systems isn’t the wisest long-term decision ever made.

Consider doing a Proof of Concept for a newer version of Windows.  Find the newest one that works in your environment and use it.  Don’t take anyone’s word that it will work.  Put it on your network and stress test it.

We are here to help.  TNT has multiple engineers who can setup 8.1 (currently the newest) on a few devices in your network and teach you how to use it….you can’t just use your old Windows XP/7 sort of thinking and expect to find it to be very efficient.

It’s not.  Someone needs to show you how to get the bang out of Windows 8.1  We are ready to do that. Contact us to set up a Proof of Concept.

End Users Increasingly Unwitting Accomplices in Cyber Attacks

Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by webadmin No Comments

One of the most concerning findings of Cisco’s 2015 Annual Security report is that online criminals are increasingly targeting end users. They are then relying on those end users to help launch other cyber attacks. A combination of careless behavior by users and security gaps is fueling the problem.
An increase in SPAM

The amount of SPAM had been decreasing for years. But between the months of January and November of 2014, the volume of SPAM increased 250%! Cyber criminals are targeting the end users because IT departments have gotten better at implementing solutions that block network breaches.

One emerging threat Cisco’s report found was “Snowshoe SPAM.” In this attack, the criminal sends a low volume of SPAM from a large set of IP addresses. This helps the attack to avoid detection.

These attack campaigns are targeted Spear Phishing campaigns. They include well-crafted messages that appear to be from a trusted sender. One tactic listed in the report was sending users a fake request for a password rest. Once the criminals find a tactic that works- that will get users to click on their link, leading to the download of the attack, they keep using that tactic, but tweak the wording to avoid SPAM detectors.

The top five industries at risk are:

1.  Pharmaceutical and Chemical
2.  Media and Publishing
3.  Manufacturing
4.  Transportation and Shipping
5.  Aviation

Web browser add-ons

Another route criminals are using to reach end users is web browser add-ons. The attack comes from software bundled in web browser add-ons. Most people think web browser add-ons are trustworthy, or at the very least, benign. Plus, the attackers again use what appears to be trusted sources. For example, a someone using Internet Explorer may get an alert saying they need to download a seemingly legitimate software. Flash players and PDF readers are particularly vulnerable because many people don’t update those regularly.

Possible Solutions

While there is no way to prevent 100% of attack attempts, Cisco’s report had some possible solutions to increase security.

1.  Greater use of automatic updating. The report found that the web browser Chrome had fewer attacks, in part because it automatically updates.

2.  Better Education for and Engagement from end users. For example, a message explaining that a blocked site was blocked because it had been flagged as SPAM helps users understand security procedures better than a message that simply says the site has been blocked.

3.  Cyber Security needs to the business of everyone in the organization from the boardroom down to the end user.

Is your network as secure as you think it is?  How engaged and educated are your end users about the risks?  Contact The Network Team  and allow us to help you come up with a road map to the most sophisticated security system for your business.

 

Sobig.F Virus Infects Millions

Posted on: January 15th, 2015 by webadmin No Comments

Imagine a highway in your mind in a far-off state somewhere.  Maybe you’ve been there once or twice. Imagine that highway already full of traffic…Think REAL busy.

Now, imagine that same highway, full of foreign vehicles that increases traffic, say by 60%. That means, for every hundred cars on an already congested highway, there are now 160 cars.  And, of that number, 60 of them are out to hit you.

Meet the Sobig.F virus.  It hit the world this week, and it now has reached 134 countries.

Oh yeah, this year, we have already seen the Blaster virus and Nachi.  What month is this again?

January.

Repeat that.

January.

Graham Cluley of the Anti-Virus company Sophos called this the worst barrage of viruses in the history of computing.

The virus spreads through attachments in e-mails, and then sends several copies of itself to all the addresses in that account.  It can also load a program on the infected machine that would allow the virus creators to continue sending messages through the computer.

Now, more than ever, you need an extra set of eyes on your network.  You need some help in preventing and mitigating these issues when they occur.  They will continue to occur. Your customer data, your sensitive records and your livelihood are at stake.

Wednesday morning, we learned that three TNT customers had the virus, and it was invading their endpoint devices.

We were able to help all of them, remotely, and close the trouble tickets before the sun set.

We also had those customers send that virus to TNT to test our security.  Our Spam filter (Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud) caught it before it even got to us.

Wouldn’t you like us to do that for you?  Contact us. You have better things to do than worry about what some hacker on the other side of the world is going to do to your data.  Do what it is that you do best, and let us step in.

Microsoft Ends Mainstream Support for Windows 7

Posted on: January 13th, 2015 by webadmin No Comments

With the release of Windows 8, people did not care.  After all, they did not have a usable start button, and they could not find anything.

Windows 8.1 addressed those issues.  Yet, it remains the case that Windows 7 is the most popular OS in the United States, today.

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015, Windows 7 goes end of mainstream support.  Only those folks with specific extended support options can continue to use the product, without concerns.

Bet you did not know that.  If you are a normal business leader, you have just assumed that if you got off of Windows XP, you were good.  At least, that is the messaging you got from Microsoft and its partners.

Well, not really.  Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is available for extended support until Jan 14, 2020.  That said, Microsoft describes extended support as  follows:

 “Microsoft will offer extended support for either a minimum of 5 years from the date of a product’s general availability, or for 2 years after the second successor product (two versions later) is released, whichever is longer.”

Translation:  you are going to formally be using old stuff as of January 13th, 2015.  If you are a manufacturing company with machines that do exactly one thing, this is a non-issue.  However, if you have devices that require updates from third parties, you are no longer in the “top priority” category.  You are in the “when we get to it” category.

You can still buy PCs, from your manufacturer of choice, pre-loaded with Windows 7.  However, you ca not buy any retail versions of the product.

Microsoft is preparing for the release of Windows 10. In fact, I am doing a presentation about that product and a few others at some upcoming events.  Come check it out, and see for yourself what direction you want to go.  Windows 7, 8.1 or 10.

Maybe, you will support all of them.  But, if you want to keep things simple, you will limit the choices for you and your customers.