Blog - SisAdmin.com - Seattle, Washington

06 May 2015

SisAdmin Sponsors Vistage Executive Summit 2015

VES 2015

Representatives from SisAdmin attended the Vistage Executive Summit 2015 yesterday, May 5th, at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

We would like to thank all of you that stopped by our booth to say hello.  We really enjoyed meeting and visiting with our existing customers, Vistage members and chairs, industry peers and colleagues, and guest attendees.  The venue was spectacular, the guest speakers were inspiring, engaging and insightful, the food was delicious and the atmosphere and energy was second to none.

We look forward to seeing you all next year!

The SisAdmin Team

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01 May 2015

Security Alert: Wire Transfer Scam

phishing-attacks

We are issuing this security notice to alert our customers to a fraudulent wire transfer technique that some of our customers have encountered this week.  The technique is called spear phishing and relies upon email messages posing as urgent communications from senior officers to lower level employees.  The messages demand that employees wire funds to destination accounts provide in the message.

These emails can be very convincing and are typically sent to corporate executives, corporate finance personnel, or others likely to have roles in authorizing or executing accounts payable operations.  We highly recommend making your employees aware of this threat and cautioning them against falling victim to these attacks.  Typical signs to look for beyond the obvious tone of the funds transfer demands are:

  • Suspicious emails sent to executives or received from executives
  • Check the sender’s email address closely for spoofed or impersonated domains
  • The body of the email instructs the target to pay all new or outstanding invoices via wire transfer to a new bank account
  • The body of the message often includes a fake, back-dated “original message” in an attempt to set the context of the transfer request
  • Attached to the email is a PDF document containing wire transfer instructions, including bank name, account number, etc.
  • Wire transfer destinations typically include banks in the US, UK, China and Taiwan

The technical details of how scammers accomplish this are as follows:

  1. Scammers register “typo squatting” domains that for all intents and purposes look like the target company’s domain, but are subtly different.  For example, the legitimate domain www.mybusiness.com would be registered as www.mybusiiness.com.
  2. Scammers then create email accounts at the fake domain that mirror legitimate executive email accounts.  For example Joe.CEO@mybusiness.com would be created as Joe.CEO@mybusiiness.com, and the common name that appears on the email account would be identical to the original account, such as Joe CEO.
  3. The attack often relies upon knowledge of key players within the company and emails that are highly convincing to the recipients are created.  They rely upon the fact that when the CEO asks you to do something, you do it!
  4. Emails are sent to lower level employees from executives that are brief and urgent, demanding the transfer of funds and the progress of the transfer, thus making the request appear more authentic.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need our assistance.

24 Apr 2015

Windows Server 2003 Support is Ending July 14, 2015

XP-Gravestone-banner

Amongst the geek speak you may have overheard recently, the term “End of Life” (EOL) may ring a bell.  This term refers to the product(s) supplied to customers that are at the end of their useful life and the vendor (more often than not Microsoft) intends to stop supporting it.  There are some key Microsoft products coming up on End of Life in the first half of 2015; the major one being Windows Server 2003 (all versions) which subsequently includes Small Business Server (SBS) 2003.   Specifically, support will end for these products on July 14, 2015.

So what does this mean to you and your business?  In a nut shell, continuing the use of these products becomes a liability and vulnerability as Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003.  According to Microsoft “you need to take steps now to plan and execute a migration strategy to protect your infrastructure.  By migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure or Office 365, you can achieve concreted benefits, including improved performance, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased agility and speed of response to the business.”

We’re here to aid you through this transition.  Contact SisAdmin if you have any questions or concerns about your technical infrastructure in light of these upcoming product retirements.

23 Feb 2015

Virus Alert: CryptoLocker + How To Protect Yourself

Welcome to the first installment of the new SisAdmin blog!  Keep an eye on this space in the coming months for lots of useful information to help your technology work for you.

The first topic we’d like to bring to your attention is CryptoLocker, one of the most serious malware types out there today, which can dramatically impact your business should you experience an infection.  CryptoLocker and its variants, a type of virus known as ‘ransomware’, are becoming more and more widespread across networks with each passing day.  These viruses are able to evade commercially available virus and malware protections due to their ability to exploit legitimate, trustworthy actions such as file sharing.  We have resolved several CryptoLocker infections, and while we’ve been able to recover the client’s data each time, the infection has caused downtime, lost productivity and lost income for the client’s company.

CryptoLocker works by encrypting the files stored in folders that are available via the drive letters on the infected machine (C: or D: for desktop drives, U: or S: or others for server drives).  The organizations that create these infections then attempt to charge the victim a ransom for the decryption key required to regain access to these files.  While it’s possible to pay the ransom, we don’t recommend it.  The creators of these viruses are not ethical business people—you don’t want them to have your credit card info, and there’s no guarantee that they will provide you with the key needed to unlock your data after you’ve paid.

Since this infection doesn’t limit itself to personal files stored locally on a desktop computer, but also targets files stored on a server via a mapped drive, it can be particularly malicious and can potentially encrypt an entire network file structure simply by infecting one user.

CryptoLocker and its variants are often spread through waves of millions of emails that are sent by internet criminals to company email addresses, pretending to be legitimate messages from major companies such as FedEx, UPS, etc.  These emails contain a zip attachment that, when opened, infects the computer.  Infections can also occur as a result of the download of an application that appears to be legitimate, or via methods that attempt to bypass authorized access to a computer.

Exercising tried and true email security practices, such as never opening attachments from unknown senders, can go a long way toward protecting you from these infections.

But what else can you do to protect yourself from Crypto and its variants?  Three things: back up your data, update your antivirus software, and retire all your Windows XP computers.

1.    Back up your data

CryptoLocker cannot currently be fully blocked via commercial antivirus products due to its ability to mimic legitimate application functions.  The only way to block such software completely is to disable the file-sharing functions of Windows, which isn’t an appealing solution.  The only way currently available to recover from a CryptoLocker infection is to restore the infected files from backup.  Therefore, having consistent, updated backups available at all times is critical to avoiding data loss from a CryptoLocker infection.

If you are a SisAdmin Safeguard or Observational client, SisAdmin monitors your backups for you, but it’s still worth checking with your engineer to confirm the backup platform you’re currently using meets your needs.  If you are only backing up once a day (or only maintaining one day’s worth of backups) and CryptoLocker is discovered more than 24 hours after infection, chances are high that you will lose critical business data–potentially all your business data.

It’s also a good idea to schedule some time with your engineer to perform a test restore of your environment—that way you know exactly what will happen in the event of an infection like CryptoLocker and have the peace of mind of knowing you’ll have minimal downtime.

2.    Update your antivirus/antimalware software

While there is no foolproof way to prevent CryptoLocker infection, updated antivirus and antimalware software can help detect the source of infections and catch future ones—usually before the encryption spreads too far.  SisAdmin recommends VIPRE Business and MalwareBytes as a solid antivirus/antimalware products, but there are many reputable alternatives if necessary for your specific network.  Check with your engineer or the SisAdmin Service Desk to determine your level of protection and how it can be improved—we’re always happy to help.

3.    Retire Windows XP

Ah, Windows XP—it’s like an old friend, and one we’re all sorry to see go.  However, since Microsoft ended support and security updates for XP in April of 2014, it is no longer being updated as new vulnerabilities are discovered.  This means that having Windows XP systems still in production and connected to your network is like putting out a sign saying “Please, hack me!  Hack me now and encrypt all my data!”

Replacing your Windows XP computers is critical to network security today, including removing a potential vector for CryptoLocker to infect your files.  If you have XP machines on your network, speak with your SisAdmin engineer or the Service Desk about the best way to replace them with Windows 7 or Windows 8 desktops.

That’s it for our first post!  As always, if you have any questions about CryptoLocker or any other network issue, please give the SisAdmin Service Desk a call at (425) 482-1919.

13 Feb 2015

Blog Coming Soon

Check back later!

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