Monthly Archives

October 2013

Security Alert – Installing OS X Mavericks

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We are receiving a number of reports from clients that the latest OS X Mavericks updates are creating major compatibility, hardware driver, file sharing and printing compatibility issues, as well as other problems. We recommend that you refrain from installing OS X Mavericks until you check with us in order to avoid downtime. Apple is providing OS X Mavericks under the normal updates section with no cost associated with the update.

Because of the issues we’re seeing, we believe the wisest approach is to contact our tech team first and make sure you will not experience any of the compatibility issues being reported. If you have already run the update and you’re experiencing problems, please let us know. If you have any questions or need assistance with your OS X Mavericks update, please contact our team at your earliest convenience.

Windows XP Faces Extinction

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extinctWindows XP, like the dinosaur, the Dodo Bird, and the Sabre Tooth Tiger before it, will be extinct by next April. There is no saving it – it’s doomed to be another relic in a museum. Because Microsoft support for Windows XP will end in April 2014.

Software can be a lot like a comfortable pair of boots. You like how it looks and feels. It’s comfortable. And because of that, you may hesitate to upgrade when you should. But like those broken-in, worn-out boots that leave you with at least a bruised ego, choosing not to upgrade your software can leave you with much more painful damage. Regardless of which platform you choose, upgrading your Windows operating system is crucial if you want to receive Microsoft support and protect your business systems from vulnerability. The risks of using extinct, unsupported software include:

  • Potential security breaches
  • Reduced functionality
  • Incompatibility with other programs
  • Increased downtime

There are two options for replacing your Windows XP system: Windows 7 and Windows 8. While Windows 8 is the most recent Windows version, Windows 7 may be the better choice for some businesses.

For those businesses in which the computer is a way to track invoices, send a few emails and occasionally update a website, Windows 7 may be the preferred choice. Windows 7 allows for a variety of customizations to the look and feel of your computer yet remains a basic tool for one-clicking your way to the programs and files you use most often.

For those businesses with a mobile workforce, and for those who work as much from a tablet or phone as they do a desktop or laptop, Windows 8 is designed to be a mobile-friendly operating system. Windows 8 is for people who embrace change and already spend more time using touchscreens than they do typing.

Now is the time to let go of your broken-in, worn-out operating system. It’s moved to the top of the endangered species list. And whether you choose Windows 7 or Windows 8, each platform offers better collaboration, performance and security than sticking with one that is on the extinction list. We recommend upgrading as soon as possible to ensure ongoing security and stability. If you’re not sure where to start, thinkCSC can facilitate the ordering and implementation of the new operating system. We can assess your current infrastructure to ensure its compatibility with new software. Contact us today for more information.

Crypto Locker Malware – Act Now

By | thinkCSC Security Alert | No Comments

cryptolockerRecently, several of our clients have been exposed to a new variant of malware which is becoming known as Crypto Locker. Antivirus vendors are working diligently to combat the virus. However, it is still possible for the malware to infect the machine even if it has current, up-to-date antivirus protection.

Crypto Locker specifically targets Word, Excel, PDF and possibly other file types. It encrypts the files and makes them unusable. Typically, a single machine (or more) on a network becomes infected. The malware proceeds to modify all of the specific files on that machine, as well as any files that machine has access to on its network, including mapped drives to shared servers. One infected machine can quickly spread, making nearly all company files stored on the network unusable.

On the machine that is actually infected, you will likely see a pop-up called CryptoLocker stating that your files have been encrypted and try to ransom you to pay hundreds of dollars to have them unencrypted.

thinkCSC would advise you to not pay them any money or give them any information.

It is unlikely that paying them will result in fixing your issue and this will likely result in fraud and other problems. It is important that these issues be reported as quickly as possible. The infected machine should be shut down and removed from the network.

On machines that are uninfected but trying to access files that have been changed by Crypto Locker, you may receive errors like ‘File is not in a recognizable format,’ ‘<Filename> cannot be opened because it is an unsupported filetype or has been damaged,’ and other variations of those messages.

The fix? In most cases, there is not one. The only tried and true solution, until Antivirus vendors are able to adapt, is to restore from backups. If you have an antiquated or untested backup system, possibly including tape backups, this could become quite problematic and lead to extensive downtime.

There are several lessons to learn from this. First, it is important to have a strong, automated backup solution that runs on a regular basis. Second, that backup solution should have monitoring and be tested on a regular basis. Third, point in time and time to restore need to be taken very seriously. If you only backup once day, you will likely lose an entire day or more of data should you need to restore. Time to restore is another important consideration. If you have to bring in tapes from offsite and then perform a restore, it will take longer before you and your data will be on working terms again. Fourth, it is always important to have currently licensed, updated Antivirus. This is a first line of defense and not a perfect solution that will stop 100% of all threats, so it is also important to have a complete protection system including email security, strong firewall, antivirus, and a comprehensive automated backup solution and patch management.

If you have been infected by this malware or would like to discuss thinkCSC’s Managed Services Program, Backup & Disaster Recovery (BDR) Solution, or any other concerns, please contact your account executive or contact us today.