Attention: Prevent Yourself from the Worldwide Cyber-Attack!

If you’ve heard about the most recent news on the world-wide cyber-attacks, you know how serious it is. If you haven’t, then let me fill you in.

According to CNN*, this is the world’s largest cyber-attack in history. This specific attack is known as ransomware. Ransomware is an infection that acts like a Trojan Horse. It is disguised as something legitimate but actually infects your PC. It most often is unleashed on your computer by clicking a link or opening an attachment from an e-mail. When this infection contaminates your computer, it holds all your data hostage. That could mean QuickBooks files, Excel sheets, Word documents, photos, personal information, etc. To be able to access your information, you will be expected to pay the attacker X amount of money. They then increase this amount the longer you wait. Even if you pay the ransom, you are not guaranteed to get your data back; they may not hold up their end of the deal. This affects businesses because, once in your system, they can stop all business operations until you pay the ransom—which can be thousands of dollars—or recover your data from backups.

You may be thinking, “Why would anyone open an e-mail from someone they don’t know?” These hackers are very tricky. They can make the e-mails look like they’re coming from a well-known, safe organization, such as FedEx. The e-mails look very realistic, telling you that they couldn’t deliver a package to you and you need to click the link to verify your address with the postal service. They can also infect a PC and use that person’s e-mail to send the material. This is why it’s important, even if you know the person, not to open unexpected attachments or links. Once these links and attachments are clicked, the ransomware will encrypt your computer’s hard drive. Additionally, these types of viruses are not easily detected by Anti-Virus.

Stay prepared. Protect yourself!

How to know if you have this infection

Once your computer has been compromised by this sort of infection, your normal shortcuts will not work, they will typically look different, and there is often a file added to your desktop or folder with instructions of how to pay the hackers.

Here are some examples:

Cyber security example showing your files have been damaged due to a cyber attack
Cyber security example showing files being encrypted and held hostage for payment
Cyber security example showing how to recover encrypted files
Cyber security example showing a crypt-o-locker virus

What to do once you have this infection

  1. Turn the PC off immediately. This infection can spread throughout the office and even reach your servers—where most business-critical information lives.
  2. Call your Twin State account representative or the help desk and immediately explain that you believe you have a Crypto Virus. 563-441-1504.

What you can do today

  1. Watch out for suspicious e-mails: Do not open an attachment or link from an e-mail if you’re not expecting it or don’t know the person. When in doubt, contact the sender to confirm the document or link was, in fact, sent by them.
  2. Ensure your workstations are protected by updating Windows regularly with the most up-to-date Microsoft software. Instructions are below.
    • If your computer is running Windows (either on a Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc., or on a Mac as a secondary operating system) run "Windows Update" (see below for instructions) immediately to prevent the spread of the ransomware.
    • In March of 2017, Microsoft updated the Windows operating system to prevent this malware. So we need to make sure that all Windows systems are running at least that latest version.
      • Windows 10 Users: To update your operating system, type "check for updates" in the Search box of your desktop, press "Enter," then click "Check for updates" in the window that appears. Restart your computer if any updates were installed.
      • Windows 7 Users: To update your operating system, click "Start" and, in the Search box, type "windows updates," then click "Check for updates" from the list of items that appears. If any important updates are displayed, click the link to install them. Restart your computer if any updates were installed.

If you’re not sure what version of Windows you have, give our help desk a call and they can assist you: 563-441-1504.

Note that Windows XP computers have not been supported by Microsoft or Twin State Tech for over three years.

What you can do going forward

Having an automated Patch Management system in place to automatically update and reboot your machines is becoming more popular. As a Managed Service Provider, Twin State provides this and other services to help safe guard our clients. We support updating all current Windows Operating Systems and most third party software.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. If you’d like to learn more about protecting yourself from a cyber-attack, check out our Cyber Security services. We will help you be proactive and get you on the right track.


*Pham, Sherisse. "What Is Ransomware?" CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 15 May 2017. Web. 15 May 2017

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