Archive for the ‘Technology Trends’ Category

TNT Named Finalist for Union County Chamber Small Business Excellence Award

Posted on: December 11th, 2017 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

The Network Team is honored to be a finalist for the Union County Chamber of Commerce  Small Business Excellence Award.  The criteria for being a finalist include strategies and processes for business growth and improvement, quality customer service, excellence in the marketplace, and community contributions.

As a finalist, the incredibly talented team at Chain Reaction Studios came to TNT's headquarters to film a video about our company.  Take a look to learn more about who we are, and how we serve our clients.

 

Mecklenburg County Server Hack: What You Need to Know

Posted on: December 6th, 2017 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

Residents in Mecklenburg County hoping to get a marriage certificate, or vendors hoping to get paid for work done for the county, may be out of luck, and could be for several days.  Hackers attacked the county servers Monday, locking access to files, and demanding 2 Bitcoins (about $25,000) to decrypt them.

County officials say no resident’s personal information has been exposed, but instead, the hackers encrypted information county employees need to do business.

Like nearly all ransomware attacks, the hackers gained access to the county servers because an employee clicked on an infected attachment in an email.  The county is considering paying the ransom, as well as looking into attempting to decrypt the files themselves.

The Rising Cost of Ransom

TNT has written extensively about the tactics of hackers, and dangers of Ransomware.  And the FBI itself discourages victims from paying the ransom.  But because it is easier for many victims, they do end up paying.  There are many reasons that is a bad idea, and here is just one:

Mecklenburg County Servers

Bitcoin became the standard for ransom in Ransomware attacks in 2016.  In just the past year, its value has gone up more than 1500%, and it continues to rise every day.  That means that on Monday, when the hackers made the demand, the 2 Bitcoins were worth $23,000.  But the value has already increased, and as of the writing of this blog, it’s $25,600.

Criminals Who Can’t Get Caught

These hackers are incredibly smart.  Their use of Bitcoin as a means of ransom is ingenious.  Because it is not considered money, there is often little law enforcement can do, even if they are able to catch the hackers.  Since the hackers are most often located outside of the reach of US law, figuring out who is responsible is a pretty tough task.

Law enforcement – even if they figure out what happened, it may not be considered a crime – reference FBI speaker and chamber presentation – he shared that it is often the case law enforcement can do nothing since bitcoin is not considered ransom or extortion as it is currently not considered legal currency.

 

Not if, but when

Regardless of which route the county takes (paying or not), they simply must come up with a plan to keep this from happening again.  However, the fact is that Ransomware is becoming an increasingly simple and profitable crime for hackers.  Just like there is no 100% sure-fire way to prevent yourself from catching a cold, there is no 100% sure-fire way to ensure you never get hacked.  While you can’t completely avoid catching a cold, you do have a contingency plan in place – you take medicine, you rest.  In the same manner, businesses need to have a business continuity plan in place before they fall victim to hackers.

TNT’s Business Continuity solution would mean a hack like this would have zero impact on business, as everything would have failed over in real time to one of 2 disaster recovery solutions.  Employees would have continued access to the files, applications and servers needed to do business, and the organization would not need to pay the ransom.

Learn more about Business Continuity below, and contact us today to learn more about protecting your data.

Netflix Phishing Scam Underscores Ransomware Risk

Posted on: November 13th, 2017 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

A phishing scam that’s been around for months is hitting the news again.  Hackers targeted nearly 110 million Netflix subscribers in the sophisticated scam that’s bypassing a lot of SPAM filters.

Users receive an email indicating their account has been suspended due to a billing error. They are directed to a fake Netflix landing page. Users are prompted to enter personal and billing information. The page not only looks legitimate, the hackers have found ways to host it on trusted servers.

A recent security survey from Datto shows email phishing remains one of the most common scams hackers use to access your files and information, and/or plant ransomware.

Ransomware is malicious software that blocks your access to your files and information until you pay a ransom.

Datto surveyed IT companies to find out what kind of ransomware attacks their clients were facing.

  • 26% of those surveyed said their clients were hit with multiple ransomware attacks in a single day.
  • 56% of the businesses attacked by ransomware lost critical data.
  • 97% of the IT pros surveyed expect the ransomware problem to continue to increase in frequency over the next two years.

So, what can you do to make sure your company and customer information is as safe as possible from phishing scams?  Education is the number one weapon against phishing scams, and hackers in general.  In the example of the Netflix phishing scam, users should log into Netflix from a new browser window and check the status of their account there instead of clicking on links in the email.

Perimeter and endpoint security cannot be overemphasized.  Have a firewall with layer 7 filtering and cloud-based protection on all your endpoints to be sure that they are safe, both in and out of the office.

Learn more about the dangers of ransomware, including an inside look at the tacticts hackers use by reading our Ransomware Protection page.

 

Seminary Sees Improvement to Network Issues after Upgrade

Posted on: July 5th, 2017 by Jessica Diehl No Comments

“We partnered with The Network Team to overhaul our network infrastructure at our main campus. It was a decision we have not once regretted,” said Cliff Singletary, IT Manager of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary after The Network Team helped fix network issues.

The Problem

Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary is a four-campus seminary with just over 2000 students.  The professors at the seminary were the driving force for a recent network infrastructure upgrade. They wanted to modernize how they taught class, including having other students call in, or having classes across multiple campuses.

When The Network Team initially approached Singletary, he mentioned wireless network issues as a possible pain point and potential for upgrade. However, when TNT engineers looked deeper, they discovered that it was the wired network that was the culprit to blame for the pain the users at Gordon-Conwell were experiencing. Additionally, even if Gordon-Conwell’s wireless network was upgraded, the outdated wired network would not be able to suitably support it.

“We wanted our network to be something we did not think about, opening opportunities that were not available beforehand,” said Singletary.

The Solution

Gordon Conwell does not have a large IT staff, and therefore needed a system that does not require a lot of management and administration.  The Network Team recommended a Cisco network with 6800 Instant Access infrastructure.  With the 6800 Instant Access infrastructure, the primary configuration takes place at the core of the network, meaning administrators don’t have to touch all the individual access switches when configuring or updating.

Singletary notes that once the new network infrastructure upgrade was implemented, network speed and access increased, and the IT department has been able to support new initiatives.  “Since implementing the Cisco solution for our entire network, we are no longer concerned with our infrastructure holding us back. We are not limited in the possibilities we can pursue.”

TNT is now working with Gordon Conwell on moving entire systems to the cloud.  According to Singletary, it’s a necessity.

“In today’s rapidly changing technology landscape, the ability to be agile and quickly adapt is essential to not only excelling, but in surviving.  This type of agility presupposes a rock-solid infrastructure, and Cisco has been the cornerstone of that solution for us.”

 

The Network Team