05 Nov 2014

November 2014 – New Android SMS Virus doing the rounds..

As you know, we only write twelve newsletters a year, but it seems as soon as we finish one the next one is due! How time flies!

This last month has been somewhat ‘quieter’ than previous months, although with all the celebrity data breaches, security of information has risen to the top of the IT ‘hit list’.

Last month we saw a new ‘ransomware’ virus hitting users of Android operating system known as the ‘Koler worm’, this worm spreads itself via text messages and holds the victim’s infected device hostage until a ransom is paid.

It becomes a worm by attempting to trick users into opening a shortened bit.ly URL, once installed, it then sends SMSs to everyone in your contact list saying “”Someone made a profile named -[the contact’s name]- and he uploaded some of your photos! is that you?” followed by a Bitly link, so they can become infected as well.

Once installed this worm then locks the victim’s mobile screen and then demands money from users with fake notifications from law enforcement agencies accusing users of viewing and storing child pornography.

The victim is forced to buy a voucher as instructed on the blocking page, and send the voucher code to a malware author.”

Due to the Worm.Koler’s SMS distribution mechanism, we are seeing a rapid spread of infected devices since the 19th of October, which we believe to be the original outbreak date,” “During this short period, we have detected several hundred phones that exhibit signs of infection, across multiple US carriers. In addition to this, other mobile operators worldwide—predominantly in the Middle East, have been affected by this malware.

If users suspect they are infected by the malware, they should never authorize any payment as it won’t guarantee the unlocking of your device, as well as it will further encourage cyber criminals to carry out such ransomware practices again and again.

Koler does not encrypt files, according to security firms, therefore it becomes easy for users to eliminate the threat from their infected devices by following two simple steps:

  • Reboot your phone in the “Safe Mode
  • Remove the ‘PhotoViewer‘ app using standard Android app uninstallation tool

This particular worm should be treated as a ‘wake up call’ for all android users. The payload could have been MUCH worse.

In order to protect yourself from such threats in future, the best practice is to have the “Unknown Sources” option turned off in your Android device’ security settings menu. Turning off of this option won’t let users to install applications from unknown sources, but only from the official Google Play store.

The other thing you should do is to talk to us here at EtherTech about our Trend Micro Mobile Security and Anti Virus solution for Android which will prevent these malicious sites from getting into your devices. At $5.50 per month per device its pretty cheap insurance.

Until next month!.. Happy internetting..

02 Oct 2014

October 2014 – iPhone 6 launch, Shellshock bug, Mobile Device Security and more….

This month has seen some more industry heavyweights releasing new products to the market with the biggest release being Apples new iPhone 6, and even with less fanfare than the past, they still managed to achieve people camping out to ensure they were among the first to own one.

There were a couple of honourable mentions though. The first purchaser in WA who, when interviewed on TV dropped it onto the concrete before he’d even turned it on, and to Apple themselves, who seem to have produced a bendy iPhone 6+ edition, with owners already reporting issues with the phones flexing and bending.

Another emerging security breach this month has been the discovery of the “Shellshock Bug”, which has been lying dormant and unnoticed for decades, but now it has been found it is estimated that as many as 500million servers and devices worldwide are  vulnerable to this bug which could give hackers a backdoor into your systems.

The biggest concern are websites. This month we passed the billion website mark online, and ½ of those will be affected by this bug.

‘Shellshock’ is named after the vulnerable application through which hackers can gain access, the ‘Bash Shell’. The ‘Shell’ is a command line driven application found in all Linux/Unix/Mac/even NAS unit operating systems. ‘Bash’ is the actual ‘version’ of the shell that is susceptible to this bug.

You can be assured however that EtherTech is not vulnerable to this ‘Shellshock’ bug, as our clustered webservers are all windows based, which has no issues, and all other systems have already been patched.

Keeping on the topic of mobile devices, the incidence of theft of smart phones, tablets, notebooks is forever on the rise, with the black market for these devices and especially new release models on rise, what can we do to secure our devices better?

Over the last couple of months we’ve been trialling and using a couple of new smart device management technologies. The first is a free service called ‘Prey’ (preyproject.com) which is a smart device app which if your device is stolen or even misplaced you can login via the web and send an audible alert to your device to find it, or even lock the device, take photos listen to audio get GPS fix or even remotely wipe the device of all your information if its stolen. They even have a new beta version they are trialling that allows you to use a ‘googlemap’ style map to locate your device as well.

The preyproject.com app is a free service for individuals and allows you to link up to 3 devices per free account. You can also subscribe if you have more than 3 devices.

A final reminder for the month: Windows Server 2003 will reach End of Support on 14th July 2015. Now is the time to give us a call and start talking to us to plan your migration to Windows Server 2012 R2.

Finally, the MIGHTY HAWKS are have won our second AFL grand final in a row! So thank you to everyone who’s been reading our newsletter and by default is now a bonafide Hawks supporter!  I’m sure everyone will continue to join us in wishing Hawthorn all the best for our hat-trick of premierships in 2015!

Until next month….

01 Aug 2014

August 2014 – We discuss in detail Windows Server 2003 EOL announcement

And we’re off and racing into a new financial year! It’s hard to believe we’ve only got 5 months to go until Christmas! (sorry about that!)

All this recent IT talk of Windows XP going End of Life must’ve prompted Microsoft to ‘End of Life’ some more products. The one of most interest is the announcement that Windows Server 2003 which was released on April 24th 2003, is going to be officially End of Life on 14th July 2015. 12 years…not a bad run.

With an estimated 11.7million servers worldwide still running Windows Server 2003, this will be a huge job to transition these machines to a new ‘safer’ Operating System. It will mean replacement hardware as most of the old servers running Windows Server 2003 will not be able to run the latest Server 2012 editions, or migration of services into the cloud.

The point in case of cloud vs on premise hardware solutions is still forefront in conversations, and still confuses people to this day as to the direction to take.

Here at EtherTech, we obviously support our clients’ needs whether they decide to remain on premise or ‘cloudify’ their business.  There are many pros and cons with both solutions; for example a recent client has been going through this exact scenario, where they needed to replace their existing file servers due to age. They required: 5 users to access local storage, remote access, printing, and the normal applications like MYOB and MS Office. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The issue now becomes cost benefit vs hosted system. For two new File Servers (you need a server for remote access and another for File/Print) you are looking at 10k+ unless you decide to use virtual machines and have all your servers ‘hosted’ on a single server (but it’d still require the ‘horsepower’ to run these machines) so similar sort of price; this also means a single point of failure. Plus you have all the setup and configuration costs, insurance, backup responsibility, cooling and power consumption, patch management and firewall security and ongoing updates.

This all adds up rapidly in terms of support costs, but is definitely a solution a lot of businesses still do, as it means all data is kept in-house and is not reliant on any 3rd parties for day to day operation. The total cost for this style of setup would be around 20k mark depending on your requirements.

The Cloud option means that you remove the local aspect of having to have servers, cooling, power, backups, insurance, maintenance etc to EtherTech, and we then provide the services you require to you via the internet. Remote access, file print, firewall, security, MYOB can all be hosted in the cloud for a monthly expansible fee, rather than a massive capital (depreciative) cost, spread over many years.

How much you ask?

Well here again it depends on the services required, but for example with this client for remote access, MYOB, Email and file/print storage you are looking around the $70 per month per user mark. So for 5 users you’d be up for $350 a month, even then, your cost breakeven for the 20k outlay would still be 57months! (4.75 years!), and includes all updates to latest versions of Microsoft software as they are made available, backups updates the whole lot.

For many businesses this makes better economic sense and gives them greater ‘portability’ and access to their data remotely.

The biggest issue with the ‘cloud’ in any form is the internet. With your total reliance now on a reliable internet connection to access your data, any failures by ISPs instantly cripples you. EtherTech eliminate this by ensuring our clients run ‘failover to 3G/4G’ in their network to ensure maximum ‘uptime’ at all times.

If you want to discuss any of the things discussed in this article, or need more information, please give us a call anytime to discuss your requirements!

Until next month!

04 Jul 2014

July 2014 – Happy EoFY !

Happy End of Financial Year!

What a month!

The rain has started falling, the temperatures have dropped, but the heat in IT seems to be building!

Even Microsoft is not immune to outages and issues, as proven this month when on June 24 the Microsoft Lync (instant messaging platform) suffered a global outage, then the next day the Exchange Online (Office 365) system suffered a major failure causing business’ to be unable to access or receive/send mail for many hours.

Microsoft have issued statements indicating that services had entered degraded states, and it had rectified the issues, but would take quite some time for the email queues to ‘drain’ to end users.

To add to the horror experienced by end users, it’s been revealed by McAfee this month that users of smart phones who are bypassing the official Google Playstore or Apple AppStore, to gain access to illegal or non-official Apps are putting themselves at extreme risk. For instance up to 79% of versions of the Flappy Bird app contain malicious malware which once installed can let these ‘authors’ do things like : make unauthorised phone calls, send text messages, access your contact lists, even access your microphone and camera as well as capturing banking data.

Please make sure when you install ANY app that when it prompts you to access anything that you don’t think it really needs in order to function you deny it.

Did you know that EtherTech deploy managed Trend Micro for smart devices? and for only $5.50 a month per device it’s a small amount to pay for protection. If you run antivirus and filtering on your PC’s you should be running it on your smart phones/tablets as well.

EtherTech Announcement:

During June, EtherTech finally got our SMS alerting service fully functional after a few teething problems were finally fixed. What this means is that we can now send SMS updates to our customers updating them of system issues and upgrades as they happen, rather than manually calling hundreds of people. If you would like to be added to this SMS alerting service, please email us at support@ethertech.com.au with your contact mobile number and we’ll add you to the alerting lists.

As we mentioned last month, we have managed to keep our technical support rates fixed for the last 6 years, but effective 1st of July 2014 all the EtherTech technical support rates have changed. If you are receiving the hard copy of this newsletter, you will have an attachment detailing what the new rates are. If you would like an email with a soft copy of the new rates please email us at support@ethertech.com.au requesting an updated version. If you managed to secure a pre-paid or still have hours remaining in your pre-paid support packs, these new rates will not affect you until you run out of hours in your current packs.

This month is already gearing up to be another busy one here at EtherTech, with a lot of new Hosted Exchange clients coming on board as well as infrastructure upgrades and changes being made to our redundant links for seamless BGP failovers, as well as major network projects nearing completion, so there is always something on the go.

So, until the next month, thanks for reading and please pass along any feedback about our newsletter or ideas you may like covered in upcoming newsletters!

04 Jun 2014

June 2014 – More XP bugs…

Winter is here again!

But EtherTech is keeping you out of the cold and up to date with the latest winter warmers! 🙂

“Another Internet Explorer (IE) Bug! Called Zero-Day”

Are you still stuck using IE6+? Windows XP has now been out-of-support for nearly 2 months and in that time many have had their ear to the ground waiting to hear the latest news regarding attacks on Windows XP machines. The month of May has seen a specifically aimed Windows XP attack and fix. Microsoft have changed their mind and have released a one-off security update for the most popular Windows Operating Systems; interestingly this includes a special Windows XP update. Despite Microsoft claims they were not going to support Windows XP any longer, they have now released an emergency fix.

The latest Operating System (OS) trend shows an increased slump in the number of Windows XP machines circulating in Australia and a slow rise in Windows 8.1.

This attack has targeted users operating most versions of the Internet Explorer browser (IE6 to IE11). ActiveX is used as part of IE which is disabled however there is a fix available by running windows update.  This hack only affects IE, therefore other browsers such as Google Chrome or Firefox will not be exposed to this attack.

Devices for Everyone

Touchscreen devices have been around for some time now and growing evermore popular as technology advances. It has been some years since we first witnessed Apples iPad release in 2010.
Smartphones have arguably encouraged the sales of other touchscreen devices and provided suppliers with opportunities to upsell their latest and greatest to the masses. If an organisation can introduce technology to streamline processes especially onsite with a client or in the field while servicing their equipment, then the cost to that business is invaluable. Having the ability to instantly record faults, write reports and send directly to a client, brings this sought-after technology to the forefront of some highly efficient organisations. What are we looking for in such a device anyway? Easy-to-use, quick, tough, stylish, secure, waterproof etc. the list goes on. There are now so many devices to choose from, so the right fit for you and your organisation is a looming question. If you are considering moving to tablet based devices to help streamline your organisation, please give us a call first to discuss what’s available to best serve your needs.

EtherTech Announcement:

Please be aware that as of the 1st of July 2014 EtherTech’s technical support hourly rates are changing. We are introducing a sliding scale pricing model, where senior technician’s hourly rates will increase and conversely junior rates will be cheaper. EtherTech haven’t had a rate rise in over 5 years, but now need to increase our rates due to the ever increasing expenses we need to help cover.  For the majority of you, the only real increase will be in onsite support.

June is the month to lock in a pre-paid support pack prior to these rates increasing, so get in quick before it’s too late!
Until the next month, thanks for reading and make sure if you’re ever in the area you swing past for a coffee!

02 May 2014

May 2014 – Heartbleed – Nokia – Microsoft its all been happening…

Welcome to another installment of Boffin!

Well, yet again it’s been an action packed month in the IT world.

Not only did Windows XP become end of life and end of support, but so too did Office 2003 (not that our Hosted Exchange customers would have cared).  With the end of XP support from Microsoft we have already started to see the start of the vulnerabilities with Internet Explorer being the first of many victims.  And as we suspect, there are more to come.

If you are still in two-minds about whether or not you need to replace your old XP machines and they have Internet access, then it’s now just a matter of time before the exploits start to inject malware in to your system.

We don’t want to get all “Y2K” on you, but don’t say we didn’t warn you either.

EtherTech are currently running a special on the HP 400 Corei3 small form factor desktop PC’s running Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 Pro.  They include 4GB RAM and 500GB Hard Disc, on special for just $828.00inc GST. Stocks are VERY limited, so call us if you want one, as they are selling fast.


Microsoft finalised their $7.2 billion dollar purchase of Nokia’s handset business and is now in the process of re-naming it to Microsoft mobile, which to us signals a definite move by Microsoft into the enterprise telephony space and more importantly a direct ‘Lync’ to their telephony voice products including Skype.   More importantly, it aligns Microsoft in to the Services and Devices business model, copying the model Apple implemented almost a decade ago.

Whilst on the topic, EtherTech are looking to use Lync as a free add-on to its current cloud offerings, taking Internet voice and VOIP to a whole new and extremely affordable level.

Heartbleed, the Internet security vulnerability affecting more than 60% of the world’s Internet servers entered the spotlight this month.

The problem with this vulnerability is that ‘hackers’ can snoop on your encrypted communications – username and password boxes, credit card transactions etc., and their snooping leaves no trace behind for organisations to ascertain if they were compromised or not.  This is not just hacking into servers, but snooping from anywhere at any time, so the vulnerability is very serious.  Hackers can then use this information to obtain access to your accounts.  Some of the big players including Amazon Web Serivces, Google and Facebook have been hit amongst many others.

What can you do about it?

In reality, not much as it’s more a Web Application Hosters issue, but the problem actually lies in whether or not hackers exploited various systems and obtained usernames and passwords.  Given that we don’t know, we strongly encourage diversifying your password strategy.

I run a website.  How do I know if my server was vulnerable?

Good question, there is a simple Heartbleed website checking tool available here –


This tool allows you to check websites that you frequent, whether it is currently vulnerable or not.  Whether or not it was previously vulnerable is another matter however.

You can rest assured however that none of EtherTech’s servers were vulnerable at any stage as Microsoft Web Servers were not exposed to this issue.

Hopefully next month is less eventful!  Until then…

03 Apr 2014

April 2014 – Vehicle Dashcams.. why do you need one?

This month, we’re delving into the world of vehicle and more specifically Dashcam security for vehicles.

‘Why do I need a Dashcam?’

With the advent of cheaper cameras coming onto the market, and mandatory legislation (only in WA at the moment) for heavy vehicles to always run Dashcams, we have been asked by quite a few of our customers to investigate what they should be using.

Have a look for the moment at a short 11 second video we took last month on one of our cameras.


In this video, a black sedan cuts the lanes in a roundabout and could have caused us to run into the rear end of them. Whose fault would this have been if there was no video footage? We would have had to pay. But not anymore.

Dashcam footage is being used every day to report incidents to insurance companies, police, and even social media.

They’re being used by business to ensure their company vehicles are being driven safely, for tracking where they’ve been, as well as evidence of accidents. We’ve found that the drivers of vehicles with Dashcams installed are actually safer as they drive better, knowing their every move is recorded via GPS and video.

Here at EtherTech, we have been trialling a few different Dashcams in our vehicles over the last couple of months to establish what works, and what is the best product for our clients.

‘What should I look for in a Dashcam then?’

Dashcams all record video, that’s a no-brainer, but the quality of the video determines whether you can identify number plates and detail to a level that will sustain a claim. Therefore we recommend dashcams that can support HD 1080P video.

Size is another consideration. The Dashcams we are recommending fit in your hand, and have no distracting displays.

Another thing to ensure is that the camera will not flatten your battery if left unattended. Voltage monitoring and regulation is very important.

‘How long do they record for?’

Ensure the camera has the facility to overwrite old data automatically. You don’t want to have to reformat your storage card every time it fills up. A 16gb storage card can hold about 4.5hours of HD footage and up to 17hours at 720×480 30fps resolution. A 32gb card holds 9hrs of HD and up to 34hours at lower resolution.

‘How do I access the video?’

This is actually very important. Most Dashcams require you to remove the storage card, put it into a PC so you can download the footage. This is a pain if you’re on the road and something goes wrong. The Dashcams we have been trialling allow you to wirelessly connect to the camera from your smart phone (android and iphone app provided) and copy the footage directly to your phone for later analysis without the fear of it being overwritten. The supplied software allows you to easily manage the footage later when more convenient.

‘How much are they?’

Camera prices start from $279.00inc GST + installation (which is simple, but we can do it for you if required)

If you want more information on the Dashcam’s available from EtherTech, please call us, or  visit our Online Store at :


Here you will find a lot more information we couldn’t fit in this boffin, as well as special promotional pricing!

Until next month…..

03 Mar 2014

March 2014 – Microsoft releases multiple service packs, and a discussion on service contracts.

This month has seen Microsoft finally release the first major update for Microsoft Office 2013 – Service Pack 1.

This service pack contains all the bug, security and compatibility fixes that Microsoft has been releasing sporadically since the initial release of Office 2013. There are also some enhancements to SkyDrive (now known as OneDrive) as well as the constant updates to Internet Explorer 11 and Windows 8.1.

Users can manually download the service pack to install themselves via the Microsoft download centre, or simply wait until your Windows Update informs you of the availability of the upgrade and let windows do it automatically for you.

Also this month Microsoft announced the end of Telstra’s monopoly with the Office 365 product and have now opened the product up for all IT companies to be able to purchase and resell, regardless as to whether you’re a Telstra dealer (like EtherTech is) or not. This is an interesting move from Microsoft, and not one that we weren’t expecting as Telstra’s sales of office365 have been very poor), but it does bring up the subscription model discussion again.

As more and more organisations are realising the benefits of subscription based modelling as being beneficial to their organisations cash flow (as a monthly subscription can be part of the operating expense of the business and no longer require large capital expenditure to purchase), it means businesses actually save money as the maintenance and patching / upgrading of the products are covered by the monthly subscription.

For example : Microsoft are heavily in development of their first ‘touch based’ version of MS Office currently code-named ‘Gemini’. With the explosion of touch based devices, it’s the next logical step for them to capitalise on the market. If you are part of EtherTech’s Hosted Office subscription service, this, and ALL future versions of Office would be made available to you for FREE as part of your monthly subscription.

This tends to work really well for Software and Hardware based products like Hosted Exchange / CRM / Sharepoint etc, but when it comes to a physical ‘technician present’ type of servicing the playing field changes somewhat.

We regularly come across new clients who have a ‘maintenance contract’ with another IT vendor, where they pay a ‘fixed amount’ per month to perform updates and repair any issues they have. Imagine for a moment you are that incumbent IT provider charging a fixed amount per month for servicing. How do you maximise your profit? By getting lots of these contracts, then spending as little time as possible actually doing the work, and pocket the remaining fees as profit.

Here at EtherTech we’ve always been dubious about these contracts, and have never practised them, preferring the ‘pay as you go’ style of agreement, where you only pay us when we actually work for you. And of course, the more you use us the less it can cost! Saving you even more money!

If any of the things discussed in this newsletter are of interest to you, (or might be to someone else you know), please contact us to have chat on how we can help. Until next month…..

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