Being Infected with Ransomware Is Just the First In a Series of Problems

The ransomware attack against Kaseya’s VSA servers for approximately 1,500 organizations was yet another major challenge for businesses to overcome, and while most of the affected companies did not give in to the hackers’ demands, others felt forced to pay the ransom. The problem, however, is that some of those who did pay the ransom are now having trouble decrypting their data, and with REvil MIA, they do not have the support needed to decrypt their data.

Hackers Can Now Use Radio Signals to Steal Corporate Data

Researchers in Israel have developed a technology that extracts information from a machine using radio frequencies and wireless communications. This might not sound intimidating at first, but what if we mention that these attacks can target isolated machines that have no connection to the Internet or your network at all? These types of disconnected devices are often in such high-security locations that employees aren’t even allowed to bring their mobile phones anywhere near the machine. Such powerful security measures should be enough to protect this data from just about anything–everything except radio signals. The researchers in question have proven that these methods can be, and already have been, used to siphon data from disconnected devices. Cyber Security Labs at Ben Gurion University have dubbed this technique “AirHopper.” By using radio frequencies, the researchers succeeded in leaking information from isolated machines via their transceiver. This is one of the methods the NSA used to spy on foreign countries. While the researchers haven’t explicitly stated that they use the same method as the NSA, it’s still very similar in nature. They created a malware that can be sent by a mobile phone’s FM transmitter; from there, in theory, it can infect other devices in range. Infected devices then proceed to generate more radio frequencies to infect other devices in range. According to WIRED magazine: The data can be picked up by a mobile phone up to 23 feet away and then transmitted over Wi-Fi or a cellular network to an attacker’s command-and-control server. The victim’s own mobile phone can be used to receive and transmit the stolen data, or an attacker lurking outside an office or lab can use his own phone to pick up the transmission. This kind of technique is, without a doubt, complex. Only the most skilled hackers have any hopes of pulling something like this off. However, it should be noted that it’s not as unlikely as any other advanced hacking attack from being exploited. The most likely way this kind of threat can attack a disconnected system is through a USB device or flash drive, which significantly limits the potential for attacks. Only those who have physical access to the machine would have any chance to infect it, even unknowingly, but this doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. In fact, the importance of monitoring your IT infrastructure for discrepancies can’t be emphasized enough. Limiting who has access to mission-critical disconnected and connected technology is the first step toward protecting any information stored on it. Using secure USB devices is another necessary step which can prevent potential hacking attacks from occurring. Data leakage is a primary concern for all businesses, and your business could be held liable if sensitive information is stolen. In order to prevent these catastrophes, your business should be prepared to maximize security. SRS Networks’s remote monitoring solution is specifically designed so that we keep an eye out for suspicious activity. We’ll take the necessary precautions and neutralize threats before they cause irreparable damage. Give us a call at (831) 758-3636 to learn more.

Everything You Need to Know about URLs

Top-level Domains We’ve all seen the endings of URLs such as .com, .net, and .org. These are the highest levels of domain names, and they end most website domains out there. The role of the top-level domain is to designate where in the DNS root zone the URL is located in the hierarchical namespace of the Domain Name System (DNS). For example, the domain name would belong to the top-level domain, .com. Traditionally, the three aforementioned top-level domains are the most common, and they used to have specific roles: .com was primarily used by commercial, or for-profit websites and organizations. .net was preferred by websites that concentrated on building networks. .org represented non-profit organizations. The distinction between these three generic top-level domains has largely disappeared. There are other top-level domains that are frequently used as well, such as .edu, .gov, and .mil, but these aren’t nearly as common; probably because they’re much more difficult to acquire. Second-level/Lower-level Domains If you are looking at a URL, whatever is directly to the left of the top-level domain is the second-level domain. The way that a URL is structured is that the higher the domain, the further right it will be. These are generally the names of products, services, or companies, and are used to distinguish themselves from others in the industry. For instance, the co in would be the second-level domain, and example would be the third-level domain, and so on. These can also be used to designate particular servers that are specific to one particular function, such as an email server. Specialized Top-level Domains As you can imagine, some people have a problem with registering domain names for their websites due to the domain name already being owned. You might even have run into this yourself when buying a new domain, and you might have had to use a half-baked domain instead of a specific URL that tells visitors what exactly your website is. Several new domains become available for purchase from various domain vendors. Using these new, specific domains, you may be able to use a domain that isn’t abbreviated or altered from your original plan. For example, specialty domain extensions like .restaurant will give businesses more flexibility when choosing their domain name. Do you have a story behind why you picked your business’s domain name? Let us know in the comments.

Nanotechnology Holds the Key to Doubling Computing Power

Moore’s Law is an observation made in a 1965 paper by the co-founder of Intel, Gordon Moore. Moore’s Law suggests the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits will double every year since they were invented and would continue to do so. This theory has seen some difficulty entering its fifth decade. That’s not to say that this “law,” that has held up well for decades, has been proven false, but eventually, it will inevitably fail. In an interview for Time magazine, renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku said: …we will see the collapse of Moore’s Law. In fact, already, we see a slowing down of Moore’s Law. Computer power simply cannot maintain its rapid exponential rise using standard silicon technology. Intel Corporation has admitted this. To counteract this prediction, the scientists at IBM, Intel, AMG and other research facilities, have begun using alternative materials to produce a density that allows for billions of transistors to be built into a single chip. This presents a challenge for these manufacturers to consistently produce chips that pushes computing capabilities forward. IBM’s new chips are made from a silicon-germanium alloy that produces the necessary semiconducting material needed to successfully produce integrated circuits for transistors. Currently, the most advanced commercially available chip, Intel’s i7-5960X processor has 2.6 billion transistors, and is built with a 22-nanometer process with their Tri-Gate 3D design. IBM’s newest chips have 20 million transistors and are built with a 7-nanometer process. To put that in perspective, the width of a human hair is between 80,000 and 100,000 nanometers. This comparison explains how these manufacturers are producing so many transistors in such a small space, as the average computer chip is the size of a postage stamp. As computing systems have become more predominant in the 21st century, the progress of computing, and the sustained viability of Moore’s Law, relies on these nano technicians’ ability to find materials that will facilitate tens of billions of transistors. As of now, they have been able to do so, but eventually, we may need to look elsewhere to get more from our technology. Do you think this technology will be developed to sustain Moore’s Law into the next decade, or will it fail? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

26 Billion Connected Devices By 2020 Will Dramatically Change Things

So what is the next “big” thing? What’s the next consumer technology to revolutionize our lives? Is it another piece of hardware? Software? Practice? To find what’s next, many experts are focusing on the information; and it’s becoming evident that very information is actually the next “big” thing. The “Big” Data In this new age of individualism that is largely fueled by mobility, the average person uses (and creates) an enormous amount of data; well more than the two-to-five gigabytes that you get with your standard data plan. As of May of 2015 global IP traffic has increased 500 percent over the past five years and is at nearly one billion gigabytes per year. This number is expected to increase by 100 percent over the next five years to about 2 zettabytes per year. To put that in perspective, a zettabyte can hold 36,000,000 years of HD video… yes, that’s years. This shift has all happened in a relatively short period of time, too. The ramifications of such a huge cultural move are still developing. Mobile devices, once looked at as “cool” gadgets, are now the predominant form of computing in the world (having just passed PC computing in worldwide data usage). People that use smartphones don’t just lug it around to make calls, they are constantly accessing the Internet, social media, and other applications. This creates a situation where businesses are building significant revenue streams by mining, packaging, and selling your user data to advertisers and other information-seeking organizations, including governments. Everything Will Be Connected The information systems your business uses are able to compute a fair amount of data, and by analyzing the data you collect, you can find out a lot about your business. If you think that is a lot of data to analyze, what will happen when everything you come into contact with is connected to the Internet? The concept of the Internet of Things isn’t a new one. The first network-connected device was a Coca-Cola machine on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. The machine could report when beverage containers were empty and it could measure the temperature of imported cans. According to Gartner, nearly 26 billion separate devices will be on the Internet of Things by 2020. Every device that is connected to the IoT will produce data. Whether it is a refrigerator that can automate grocery delivery or a dog collar that measures the health and activity of your pet, the underlying theme inherent in every Internet-connected device will be that relevant data will be reported for analysis. This data can go a long way to teach humans that many of the preexisting beliefs people have about humanity aren’t necessarily right; producing a world where, unlike the pop culture aspect of modern humanity, facts supersede opinions, and change will be the result of data analysis, not an emotional outcry from the fringes of society. Where Does This Leave Users? According to Mckinsey Global Institute, data brokers like Acxiom, fuel an industry worth $300 billion a year by selling off the data they collect. This information can include users’ name, gender, age, ethnicity, and more. In a profile of the company by The New York Times, Acxiom claimed to have information on some 500 million people including, “nearly every U.S. consumer”. […]

Tip of the Week: Spot a Hacker By Investigating Their IP Address

Determining Your Own IP Address In order to check your computer’s IP address, all you have to do is visit the website, Doing so will display a string of numbers that correlates to your IP address. Knowing your IP address is particularly important for your Internet browsing. What Exactly Is an IP Address? It might only look like a random string of numbers, but there’s much more to an IP address. Gartner’s IT Glossary defines an IP (Internet Protocol) address as such: A unique number assigned by an Internet authority that identifies a computer on the Internet. The number consists of four groups of numbers between 0 and 255, separated by periods (dots). For example, is an IP address. As you might imagine, knowing how to identify IP addresses is important for a business owner who’s responsible for maintaining control over a network full of sensitive information. This allows you to see who’s been accessing your network. These records are often stored in a log for you to review, and checking this log is a great way to see if there has been any suspicious activity on your network. Who’s That IP Address? You can use an IP address to find out where a computer is coming from, like its country of origin and much more. Here are some red flags to look for in IP addresses: Countries with a reputation for harboring hackers. Your competition. Former employees. Foreign countries that your business has absolutely nothing to do with. To find out information like this, you can easily copy and paste the IP address in question into a form found here: Granted, you can’t expect too much from a free online tool like this. You won’t get specific street names or usernames, but you still find out a ton about an IP address, including: The ISP and organization’s name. The IP’s host name. The city (a best guess). The latitude and longitude of the location (a best guess). The area code for that region. Any known services running on that IP. Why Bother Knowing Your IP Address? Most hackers will understand that they can be tracked down by authorities identifying their IP address, so advanced hackers will attempt to make it as difficult as possible for you to find out their identity. They do so by bouncing their signal from different IPs around the world, making it borderline impossible to pinpoint their location. A hacker could potentially use a local IP address, but really be halfway across the world. It’s for this reason that you should always be on the lookout for suspicious network activity from unrecognized IPs. If you want to optimize your network’s security and your ability to respond to threats like our example, you’ll want to use a comprehensive network security solution like the one SRS Networks offers that’s designed to monitor for sketchy network access. And, of course, an enterprise-level firewall solution never hurt anyone, either. Also, by having SRS Networks strategically monitor your access logs with our remote monitoring service, we can blacklist specific IPs so that they can never access your network again. In fact, a UTM solution even has the power to block entire countries where hackers spring up like weeds. For more information about how we can protect your […]

Protect Yourself From Email Attacks By Knowing What to Look For

One of the greatest challenges posed by email security is that it’s not as easy as setting up a security tool like a firewall and being done with it. When it comes to email, inboxes are constantly facing a barrage of new threats, and an employee can easily override your security solution to let a malicious message through. For an employee who doesn’t know what to look for in a malicious spam message, letting a threat through like this is as easy as overriding the security prompt from your antivirus software with a single click, simply because they “think they know better.” Therefore, included in your network security strategy needs to be a way to train your team on what to look for in an email threat. This is a formidable task since hackers are always looking for new ways to get around well-known traps by creating new threats. One mistake that businesses often make is assuming that, because they’ve hired employees who are competent at their jobs, that they will also be good at spotting email threats. Unfortunately, it’s too easy for these two skill sets to be mutually exclusive. After all, there’s not a whole lot of classes about spotting email threats at business school. Instead, when it comes to understanding email threats, many computer users only depend on what they’ve come across in blog articles like this that they’ve stumbled upon. Or maybe their knowledge comes from something that was briefly mentioned in a training seminar from years ago. It would do your business well to be proactive about email security by providing your staff formal training on the subject, regularly. Not sure how much your team knows about email security? One way to gauge their knowledge is to ask if they know about phishing attacks. If their reply is in regards to bait and tackle, then you’ll know that they’re behind the times, and thus, are susceptible to an email phishing attack. What’s an email phishing attack? Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know. The only way for you to protect yourself from such an attack is to know what to look for. To that end, here’s a good definition from Indiana University of what an email phishing message is: Phishing scams are typically fraudulent email messages appearing to come from legitimate enterprises (e.g., your university, your Internet service provider, your bank). These messages usually direct you to a spoofed website or otherwise get you to divulge private information (e.g., passphrase, credit card, or other account updates). The perpetrators then use this private information to commit identity theft. Essentially, hackers who use phishing tactics are banking on their victims being ignorant of their con in order for it to work. What’s worse, someone who can’t spot a phishing attack, will be easy prey to a spear phishing attack. This is where a hacker spends extra time on their message to personalize it, making it appear like a legitimate message from a company that you regularly do business with, or even from your IT department. These messages are often more difficult to spot because they don’t have a generic feel to them, which is an easy giveaway for most spam messages. To learn more about what email threats you and your team need to look out for, […]

Tip of the Week: 4 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Customer Service [VIDEO]

For a dramatic example of one dissatisfied customer using the power of the Internet to really stick it to a company, look no further than United Airlines’ infamous “guitar incident.” Musician David Carroll traveled with UA, and was horrified to learn that his $3,500 guitar was damaged by United’s baggage handlers. Even though United could have easily remedied this situation by paying for the damages, they chose not to, leaving Carroll disappointed and irate. Seeking justice, Carroll turned to the online public forum that is the Internet. He used his music skills to write a song and music video about his experience, appropriately titled, “United Breaks Guitars.” The video went viral, receiving attention from media outlets and investors alike. Within a month of posting the video, United’s stock fell by a whopping 10 percent, which comes out to roughly $180 million! Tragically, this entire incident could’ve easily been avoided if UA would have just ponied up a few grand and bought a new guitar for Mr. Carroll. When it comes to providing outstanding customer service, you want to do more than avoid making people mad. You need to go above and beyond and offer the best service possible. Here are four ways that any business can improve their customer service. Communicate Your Availability to Your Customers When a customer encounters an issue, they may wrongly assume that you’re not available to handle it, and then tell everyone about how your company “dropped the ball.” It’s well known that a customer is three times more likely to tell others about their negative experience than a positive one. Insult is added to injury when the broadcasting of a negative experience could’ve easily been prevented by the customer knowing about you and your team being available to assist them. Now for some good news, when a customer finds help and their problem is happily resolved, they will tell up to six people of their positive experience. Actually DO Quality Customer Service Providing outstanding customer service is much, much easier said than done. In a poll of businesses, nearly 90 percent of all companies said that customer service is their top strategic priority, yet, only 3 percent were actually shown to provide quality customer care. Providing great customer service has to be more than a marketing ploy or a feel-good decision by the executive board. Prioritizing in customer service must permeate the entire company and be a major part of its culture. This is the only way that your customer service representatives (the people who actually DO customer service), will come to care enough to go above and beyond. If your team perceives that customer service is just talk from the higher ups, they’ll treat the customers accordingly. Reach Out to Your Customers Online These same customers who use the Internet to tell others about their good or bad experiences with your business, can be positively influenced by your business through online interaction. By engaging your customers through your company’s social media pages, and even serving their needs online through your website, they will perceive that you care, which will go a long way in improving your company’s image. Compete By Providing Better Customer Service It’s been shown that up to 59 percent of customers would switch brands if better customer service is offered. […]

4 Ways to Equip Your Business With the Technology it Needs

Therefore, it’s recommended that you take a moment to seriously consider the last time you significantly improved an aspect of your company by integrating new technology. This could be as simple as purchasing new workstations or server hardware, or upgrading to a new software that knocks the socks off of your legacy applications. If you can’t remember the last time you made an improvement like this for your technology, we have news for you; it’s probably holding your business back from accomplishing bigger and greater things. Be Open to Change You’ve heard the old adage, “Nothing risked, nothing gained.” It applies to IT, too. If you’re unwilling to make changes to your network, you won’t be able to reap any of the many benefits that upgrading your infrastructure might yield. Ask Your Team One of the best ways you can find out how you can improve technological innovation in the workplace is by asking your team what they feel could be improved on. You might just find that they need better technology in order to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. If this is the case, they’ll appreciate you asking how to make their jobs easier. Where Do You Want to Be? Consider where you want your business to be in the next five, ten, or even fifteen years. What technology could you use to achieve this goal? Is your current technology holding you back? If you consider how your use of IT affects your business model, you might be able to justify taking the time to innovate and introduce new solutions for your business. Outsource the Responsibility If you and the rest of your staff simply don’t have time to even consider IT innovation, you’re in luck. SRS Networks’s outsource IT management and consultation services are capable of taking on this responsibility so you don’t have to. We can provide your business with professional technology consultation that can help you make educated decisions about the future of your business. SRS Networks knows exactly how the small and medium-sized business wants to operate its technology infrastructure. We can work with you to ensure that it’s always operating at maximum capacity. This will help both you and your employees get more done throughout the workday. Give us a call at (831) 758-3636 to learn more.