02 Mar 2016

March 2016 – beware the new cryptolocker targeting web sites!

Welcome to another quick Boffin update!

This month saw our favourite anti-virus/malware application Trend Micro become the #1 product according to the Gartner Group, just proving to us all once again that we’ve made the right choice in choosing TrendMicro to protect our PCs and Server data! Well done! If you’re not using Trend Micro, please call us and let us set you on the right path!

http://blog.trendmicro.com/trend-micro-named-a-leader-in-2016-gartner-endpoint-protection-platforms-magic-quadrant/

However the latest in Cryptolocker attack news is that there is a ‘new’ threat on the landscape. Hackers have now started targeting web servers and websites as well as PC’s. In a similar fashion to the original cryptolocker which encrypted all the files on PC’s and connected servers/ storage this new variant encrypts all the website pages and data and displays a public facing message informing everyone you have been hacked and that to get your website back it’d cost anywhere from .4 bitcoins ($250 ish AUD) upwards.

The method being employed to hack websites is simple. Prey on the companies that have an online presence but haven’t done any patches or upgrades to the underlying software that drives their site.

WordPress and Joomla are favourites as there have been a LOT of security patches and upgrades to fix issues over the last couple of years, and unless you are paying your web developer or hosting partner to maintain and upgrade your website software then you too will be vulnerable.

For the hundreds of websites hosted with EtherTech, we are currently undergoing an audit and will be in contact with all our clients over the next few months with an overview of their site and what needs to happens to A) secure it, and B) upgrade it and keep it current.

Please feel free to employ your web developer to maintain your website with regular updates, or perform the upgrades yourself.

It’s a lot like Windows updates. There are always flaws discovered in applications, the difference is that your website is publically available to anyone in the world, and if its vulnerable to attack, so too will you and your organisation be.

A typical ‘hacked ransomware web page’ has instructions on what happened and how to pay the hackers.

They’re even cheeky enough to have a ‘chat’ option now so you can type directly with the hacker (theoretically so they can help you in paying them).. Abusing them however probably wouldn’t help.

Rest assured that Trend Micro will protect your PC’s and servers from Cryptolocker attacks, but unfortunately it won’t work on your website. The only thing to help that is regular patching and maintenance.

Please contact us if you need any more information, or stay tuned for more updates.

Until next month!

01 Feb 2016

February 2016 – Apple’s recall, new Ransomware & more…

Another busy month to kick off the year here @ EtherTech, and lots of news for you too!

You may have heard that Google has added ‘Aussie’ slang and twang to google maps! Due to the number of complaints from Australia about Google maps not understanding our ‘lingo’. It’s always been a source of amusement for us when a US voice says ‘Kilomeeteeers’ no longer.. as more and more people are talking to their phones now, it makes sense that there would be more customised voice recognition.

Just what we needed.. a new ransomware known as “7ev3n” is the most expensive yet!

A report published recently cautioned readers of this nasty new malware, which encrypts victims’ files and demands 13 bitcoins for the key. Thirteen bitcoins is the equivalent of just over AU$6,800, making it the most expensive ransomware to date. 7ev3n is also highly destructive — it installs a batch file that disables the infected machine’s bootup and recovery capabilities.

There is no cure for the ransomware at this time, and even you pay up, the task of making the system usable again is painstaking, the report warns. Fortunately, 7ev3n is not known to have significantly spread. Backup Backup Backup!, and Trend Trend Trend! Call us today to get this done!

Apple last Friday announced it is recalling AC Wall Plug adapters designed for Australia.

In rare cases (12 worldwide cases in 12 years!) the plug pack could split and create a risk of electric shock if touched. The plug packs were included with most apple devices between 2003 and 2015.

plugpack

If your plug pack has a 4 or 5 digit number as shown in the pic, you can take it to any apple store and have it replaced free of charge. There are literally millions of these plug packs out there.

Speaking of Apple vulnerabilities, there is a ‘prank’ circulating at the moment on Twitter / Facebook etc that can crash your Iphone, Ipad or even Mac’s completely.

If you come across a link to crashsafari.com DON’T OPEN IT! The link you click generates an extremely long URL and then causes your safari browser to overload, heat up, crash your device due to excessive temperatures and reboot. Not good for your device’s longevity! Apparently over 150,000 people have fallen victim to it so far.

Windows 10 is now six months old, and over 200million users have taken up the free upgrade offer from Microsoft.

Don’t forget, the free upgrade applies only to Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1. You have one year from July 29 to upgrade your PC to Windows 10 for free. After that year is up, you’ll have to purchase Windows 10 yourself.

Until Next Month !

05 Jan 2016

January 2016 – Wheres my NBN ?!

2016 already.. Amazing we’re back at work already for another year!

We hope everyone had a merry Christmas and a safe new year, I know everyone here at EtherTech did, but it all seems a distant memory already…

NBN.. what is going on and why don’t I have it yet?!

The Abbott, now Turnbull, coalition government came to power over two years ago with a promise to change Labor’s fibre to the premises (FTTP) National Broadband Network (NBN) to one using less-expensive fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technologies, spruiking its network with their three word slogan: “Fast. Affordable. Sooner.”

It is now clear that the Coalition’s broadband network will not provide adequate bandwidth, will be no more affordable than Labor’s FTTP network and will take almost as long to roll out.

The Coalition’s original target was to bring at least 25 Mbps to all 13 million Australian premises by 2016. That target has now been quietly dropped and replaced with a target of more than 50 Mbps to 90 percent of premises by 2020.

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At the end of July 2015, almost two years after the 2013 election, only 67 premises had been served by multi-technology-mix technologies. In the meantime, as shown (in the graph above), the roll-out of FTTP has continued, albeit at a lower rate than Labor originally intended.

Australia’s broadband capabilities are falling behind its international peers. According to internet companies Ookla and Akamai, Australia’s broadband speed lags well behind other advanced and even emerging economies.

In 2009, Australia’s average broadband download speed was ranked 39th in the world. Since then, our international ranking has steadily declined and slipped to 59th place earlier this year.

What’s worse, comparisons and trends of internet speed in Australia and in a range of developed and developing countries show that FTTN technology – a key part of the Coalition’s plan – will not be enough to meet the needs of Australian broadband customers.

In short, FTTN technology will cement Australia’s place as an internet backwater. Our world ranking could fall as low as 100th by 2020.

In many forward-looking nations, FTTN technology has never been entertained as an option. In some countries where it has been installed, network operators are planning to move away from FTTN in favour of more advanced broadband technologies like FTTP. In doing the opposite, Australia is moving backwards in our opinion.

Parts of this article first appeared on The Conversation.

So, when are you getting NBN ? well maybe by 2019.. if you’re lucky.

If you have any questions about the NBN or are already on NBN and want to move to EtherTech data plans, please give us a call on 1300-ETHERTECH

03 Dec 2015

December 2015 – Windows 10 and Office 2016 making an impact!

Merry Christmas to all!

We’re on the down-hill slope now to Christmas, and with not many days to go we’re sure there are a lot of you that haven’t even thought about Christmas presents let alone bought anything!..

This month saw Microsoft release the first Windows 10 major update (1511), which has included many ‘visual updates’ and bug fixes.

Microsoft has also released a message for business saying that “If you are following the traditional policy of waiting for the first Service Pack or Major update to Windows before deploying it, then this is it; time to take the plunge.”

The update though is about 3Gb to download, so bear this in mind if you are planning to do a mass upgrade of multiple PC’s!

If you haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 yet, and you’re currently running full versions of either Windows 7 or Windows 8, remember you have until 29th July 2016 to take up the ‘free Windows 10 upgrade offer”. (Remember it’s also a 3gb download too). But even if you haven’t decided to do it by then, rest assured you can still purchase Windows 10 (approx. $160 per PC) after this date.

In other Microsoft news, Office 2016 is now being rolled out and the older Office 2013 is being made ‘End of Life’. Office 2016 is bringing with it a myriad of ‘challenges’ as well, including the requirement to create an individual Microsoft .live email address in order to activate the product. As well as this Microsoft are no longer providing any DVD media for installations, so yet another massive download. (Hope your internet plans have big download limits!).

If you want to remain on Office 2013 though, and think you may need more machines or copies of Office 2013 (so that you remain consistent throughout your organisation), you’d better buy them up quickly, as Microsoft has already stopped supplying distributors with Office 2013, and once current stock runs out, there will be no more and you’ll be forced to move to Office 2016.

In more positive tech news, all our Trend Micro subscription clients will be pleased to hear of the major update that was done at the start of November to prevent Cryptolocker infections from occurring.

Last month we had a user who received a fraudulent email from the ATO – Tax refund, and even though they tried to open it 4 x times! Trend successfully prevented their network from being infected and losing their data! . Piece of mind for only $5.50 a month per PC!

In good news for everyone, EtherTech will only be closed on the main public holidays over the Christmas/ New Year period! and we’re always available on our 1300-ETHERTECH number.

From everyone at EtherTech we wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Safe and Happy New Year!  Bring on 2016!!

06 Oct 2015

October 2015 – Office 2016 released.

Welcome to Boffin!

Well, with Steve back from a 3 week holiday in central Australia, The MIGHTY Hawks winning another AFL grand final!, and no cryptolocker for the whole of last month (touch wood that continues!) things are getting back to normal at EtherTech !

That hasn’t meant though that the IT world has stopped.. Far from it.

Volkswagen is facing fines of over US$18 Billion for cheating emissions tests by reprogramming their on-board computers to detect when the vehicle is being tested by EPA authorities and change all their parameters in order to pass the tests.

This is not new though, Samsung and HTC have been doing this for years with different smartphones detecting when benchmark software is being run and ramping up their CPU to 100% in order to appear faster.

The problem for Volkswagon of course is the 500,000 vehicles in the US that have already been recalled and then there’s the other 11million in the rest of the world that many people have purchased for the stated environmental benefits. Very damaging.

Back to IT though, Winrar has a new problem as well, a new flaw has been found that affects all Winrar SFX versions including v5.21 (with over 500million users installed) allowing hackers to compromise a machine with a specially designed .SFX archive.

The way to avoid this. Simple, Don’t open archives / ZIP files from people you don’t know and trust!

Windows 10 has been grabbing most of the headlines of late, but Microsoft also have released their new Office 2016 on September 22nd this year (end of last month). In terms of upgrades though, they’ve been a bit stingy this time around, with purchasers of Office 2013 between Aug 22 and Dec 31 2015 being eligible for either a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal edition ($70), or a $40 discount on purchasing the new Office 2016.

Changes in Office 2016 include the new styling (Giving it the Windows 10 look and feel). The new version isn’t so much based on how much more you can do with it, but more so on how you can become more productive and effective. Collaboration, document sharing, and greater OneDrive integration.

Finally Excel has been given a real update for the first time in years, with better document security, new chart types, forecasting module, better BI integration, Power query improvements plus many other fixes and enhancements to make using Excel easier and more effective. Outlook 2016 gets a refresh with it now being a lot faster to attach recent files to emails which saves a lot of time. One of the best new features though we think is the new ‘Tell Me’ feature across all applications, which allows you to get tutorials on the fly on how to do things.

How much does it cost ?

Office 2016 Home & Student – $183.00 inc GST

Office 2016 Home & Business – $296.00 inc GST

All products are in stock now.

CYA next month ! (GO HAWKS!)

02 Sep 2015

September 2015 – Windows 10 upgrades and viruses.

Welcome to Boffin!

With the release of Windows 10, a few people have been noticing the windows icon in the bottom right corner asking to reserve windows 10, this icon automatically appears in all windows 8/8.1 PCs,

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To help with some of the confusion, if you have clicked on the icon and registered for the windows 10 version, you will be eligible for the Windows10 Upgrade, however it will not occur automatically, it will only upgrade if you click the “yes I am ready to upgrade” option once it is released when the rollout begins, there will be another option to select that says something like” do not upgrade at this time” which will delay the upgrade.

Because none of the software has been tested yet, upgrading at this point is not recommended.

Windows 7 users can also upgrade to windows 10 providing the specs of the PC are compliant. Whether you register or not, everyone has 1 year from the 29th of July to upgrade for free. You can see from the graphic below the windows licence version upgrade list which points out which version the free upgrade will give you, e.g windows 7 Pro = Windows 10 Pro, as most licences in Businesses are Professional, Windows 10 Pro is most likely what everyone would upgrade to.

We have used the Windows 10 tech build ourselves and the user interface is much easier to use, the start menu is a windows 7/8 hybrid so anyone that didn’t like the tiles menu, won’t have to worry about it, there is also a multiple desktop feature, so you can have Outlook open in one desktop and web browsing in another for example open in the other with no need to minimise the Web browser to see your emails basically eliminating two monitors if you only have one.

If history is anything to go by, most Microsoft launches don’t have a 100% success rate, and there are always many many patches released almost immediately to fix bugs, so we wouldn’t recommend installing Windows 10 for some time. Remember you have 12 months to decide. Why rush.

If you do decide to upgrade you will stay on a like-for-like version of Windows 10. For example :

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A more worrying thing has emerged from this release however, and that’s the proliferation of spam and virus related attacks via email to people claiming to be Microsoft Windows 10 Upgrades.

PLEASE be vigilant when opening EVERY email.

We are about to email out a special edition alert to all our hosted email clients about the dangers and how to identify them that everyone should read and follow. Until next month!

04 Aug 2015

August 2015 – Scammers.. Beware!

As you are probably aware, the flood of scams hitting Australia is on the increase, with most people having experienced either Scam emails or telephone calls every month.

The Australian government have a website called Scamwatch http://www.scamwatch.gov.auThis site details all the different types of scams out there from Fake speeding fines, Australia Post emails to unexpected winnings and everything in between.

This site also details on a month to month basis the number of reports from the public about scams, where they originated and how much money people have lost. The figures are quite staggering.

For example, the most recent is from June 2015, and shows

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6.3million dollars scammed from innocent Australians in ONE MONTH!

Of course there would also be a lot of people who don’t report that they’ve been scammed too, so I expect that figure would be much higher.

Interestingly though, and a surprise to me, was the most popular delivery method of these scams :

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And every month is the same. Telephone seems to be the method that works the best for scammers to extract money from their victims.

I know we’ve had the ‘Hello Im from Microsoft and you have a virus that I can fix for you’ telephone calls, where the caller tries to get you to purchase non-required software from them using your credit card and drains the account. And it appears no-one is safe with most age groups being targeted.

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I know that even today we received hundreds of emails through our spam filters for Woolworths, Bunnings, Hungry Jacks & Jetstar scam giftcard emails destined for hundreds of users as I write this newsletter.

There are also more serious consequences to business with many of these scams (austpost) containing cryptolocker viruses which have crippled many companies with data loss.

The moral to the story, you NEED to visit the scamwatch website and read about the scams that are occurring and how to identify them in the future so you are not the next victim! Stay Safe out there!

01 May 2015

May 2015 – Cisco Meraki Wireless access made easy!

For the past couple of months we’ve been excited and have installed quite a few of Cisco’s innovative new cloud-managed networking products called Meraki.

Consisting of wireless access points, firewalls and switches, a Meraki network can be deployed and secured in a matter of minutes, then managed anywhere, anytime using an intuitive web interface (or smartphone app). Even if you have multiple branches, Meraki allows you to view and control everything from a single pane of glass.

Meraki gives you the kind of control and visibility into your network that would typically require an expensive equipment list with complex licensing requirements, and a highly skilled technician with years of networking experience to build and support it. There’s a lot to it, so this month we’re just focussing on the powerful wireless component, which most of our customers have been interested in.

Say for instance you need a wireless network to provide secure access to your servers and printers for your staff, but don’t want to risk giving guests access? Just log in to your Meraki Dashboard and create one. Choose whether it can be used only after your guest has accepted your terms and conditions on a captive hot spot portal just like a hotel, or after they’ve liked your business’ Facebook page. Your internal company resources remain secure while your guest can check their email – and if they happen to have malware on their PC, your network remains protected.

You can limit the speed wireless users can download data, as well as restrict access to certain categories of websites. Aside from the obvious, you can prevent people from updating their smartphone software, browsing social media or video game sites.

Wireless network suddenly slow down? This can tend to be a bit of a witch hunt to troubleshoot and track down who or what is responsible. With Meraki it’s simply a case of accessing the Dashboard with real-time statistics to find out who is downloading the most data, and from where. And just in case you don’t want people using your wireless network outside of business hours you can even set it to disable the wireless radios on a schedule.

Need to extend your wireless coverage around the building? Simply add more access points to form a mesh which will allow wireless users to move around without ever losing connectivity. You can even upload a floor plan to the Meraki Dashboard then place your access points on the map to see your staff moving around on a heat-map.

It truly is amazing technology, which is why we’re so excited about it. As a Cisco Meraki partner, EtherTech can visit your office and will happily demonstrate Meraki and answer any questions you might have about it. You may even qualify for a free wireless access point – give us a call to find out more!

 

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