Mac ransomware and how to defeat it

2017March21Apple_CAlthough most ransomware is designed to attack Windows systems, a new strain is targeting Mac computers. Discovered last month, Mac ransomware OSX/Filecoder.E was found by researchers to behave just like any cryptolocker variant. It would encrypt all data until victims paid the cybercriminals. But here’s the catch: There’s no guarantee that the Mac ransomware will release your files after you give in to the attacker’s demands. However, all is not lost. If you follow the tips below, you have a good chance of defeating this malware.

According to ESET security researchers, even though the Filecoder ransomware was written in Apple’s programming language, the malicious code is not as potent or as skillful as other viruses. In fact, it’s so poorly written that hackers never developed a method to retrieve the encryption key once the ransom has been paid.

In any case, whether you’re dealing with Filecoder or some other ransomware, we advise against ever giving in to the hacker’s demands.

Avoid Filecoder
So far, Filecoder isn’t given out via phishing emails like most ransomware; instead, it’s distributed on Torrent sites and goes by the name “Patcher.” Therefore, it’s best to stay away from these highly unregulated (and mostly illegal) websites and stick to trusted app stores like Mac, Microsoft, and Google.

Even if the ransomware is not sent out via phishing campaigns, you should still be careful of any unsolicited emails with strange file attachments in case the malware authors decide to branch out.

Install preventive measures
Like with any other malware, being proactive with your cybersecurity solutions is the best way to defend against Filecoder. Install reliable antivirus software, intrusion prevention systems, firewalls, and update systems whenever possible.

You must also maintain backups and have a disaster recovery plan to keep your business running in the off chance that ransomware or any other cyberattack successfully infiltrated your systems.

Defeat the ransomware
Given the ransomware’s shoddy code, security researchers have found a way to decrypt files without paying. Free cracking tools like PKCRACK can recover Filecoder-encrypted data if you have one original version of the affected files. The recovery process, however, does require some programming knowledge, so contact an IT expert or a managed services provider to unlock the ransomware for you.

Filecoder may not be the strongest malware around, but this could just be the start of Mac-based attacks. To protect your business from the onslaught of cyberattacks, you need security experts. Contact us today.

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Defend yourself from this new Mac ransomware

2017March21Apple_BCybersecurity experts stumbled into a ransomware variant late last month, but this one doesn’t target Windows devices. The malware, known as OSX/Filecoder.E, encrypts Mac data like any cryptolocker strain many businesses have seen in the past. However, unlike normal ransomware that release files after the Bitcoin ransom is paid, this new strain makes no such promises. Read on to find out what you can do about this ransomware.

According to ESET security researchers, even though the Filecoder ransomware was written in Apple’s programming language, the malicious code is not as potent or as skillful as other viruses. In fact, it’s so poorly written that hackers never developed a method to retrieve the encryption key once the ransom has been paid.

In any case, whether you’re dealing with Filecoder or some other ransomware, we advise against ever giving in to the hacker’s demands.

Avoid Filecoder
So far, Filecoder isn’t given out via phishing emails like most ransomware; instead, it’s distributed on Torrent sites and goes by the name “Patcher.” Therefore, it’s best to stay away from these highly unregulated (and mostly illegal) websites and stick to trusted app stores like Mac, Microsoft, and Google.

Even if the ransomware is not sent out via phishing campaigns, you should still be careful of any unsolicited emails with strange file attachments in case the malware authors decide to branch out.

Install preventive measures
Like with any other malware, being proactive with your cybersecurity solutions is the best way to defend against Filecoder. Install reliable antivirus software, intrusion prevention systems, firewalls, and update systems whenever possible.

You must also maintain backups and have a disaster recovery plan to keep your business running in the off chance that ransomware or any other cyberattack successfully infiltrated your systems.

Defeat the ransomware
Given the ransomware’s shoddy code, security researchers have found a way to decrypt files without paying. Free cracking tools like PKCRACK can recover Filecoder-encrypted data if you have one original version of the affected files. The recovery process, however, does require some programming knowledge, so contact an IT expert or a managed services provider to unlock the ransomware for you.

Filecoder may not be the strongest malware around, but this could just be the start of Mac-based attacks. To protect your business from the onslaught of cyberattacks, you need security experts. Contact us today.

Posted in Apple, General Articles B | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Google makes its cloud platform Always Free

2017March20Google_CWith Google’s newly introduced tier, more users are expected to get drawn to the search engine giant’s cloud platform. In an effort to promote Google Cloud Platform, Google revitalized its offering by improving their free-trial cloud platform service. Is it time for competitors such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to rethink their strategies?

What’s included?

With 15 new services in total, Google’s ‘Always Free’ Cloud Platform provides users with 5GB of Regional Storage (US only) per month; one f1 micro-compute instance that comes with the requisite virtual machine features; various web applications and mobile backends; NoSQL database; messaging and streaming data services; and loads more.

Not to be confused with the ‘Always Free’ tier, the ‘12-month, $300 free trial’ tier slightly differs from the former with a consumable $300 credit, which can be used for any Google Cloud Platform products such as Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Functions, and Google Stackdriver. This free credit is given upon sign-up and is valid over the course of the 12-month trial period; previously, it could be used only within the first 60 days.

The catch

The ‘Always Free’ tier has usage limits and is subject to eligibility and requirements, which include an upgraded billing account and a good Google account standing. There are also regional restrictions, with many of the associated Google Cloud products and services being offered only in Google’s us-east1, us-west1 and us-central1 regions.

Other providers

Google’s cloud platform services and tier offerings are similar to those of leading cloud providers in the market, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Like Google Cloud Platform, AWS also offers a free tier (‘AWS Free Tier’) and a 12-month free option. Google’s noticeable advantage is the free virtual machines — something that Amazon does not, or is yet, to offer.

From this new service tier, one can surmise how competitive the cloud market is. Google’s generous offer of a $300 free trial credit was apparently not enough to persuade users of competitors’ services, particularly those who have been using Amazon’s platform, which explains the new and improved ‘Always Free’ tier.

It’s easy to become complacent in choosing the best cloud provider as there are a lot, but even though there are many similarities among the services offered by Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, some cloud platforms fit certain businesses better than others. Looking for a cloud platform that’s perfect for your business? Call us today for professional cloud advice.

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Google offers Always Free cloud platform

2017March20Google_BA cloud platform provides businesses with a means to develop, customize, and manage applications for their business’s needs. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure offer this cloud service, but Google has just come up with a compelling alternative in the form of an ‘Always Free’ tier for its own Cloud Platform service. Google quietly unveiled this new offering and it would be interesting to see whether this crafty move could urge users to switch to their app development platform.

What’s included?

With 15 new services in total, Google’s ‘Always Free’ Cloud Platform provides users with 5GB of Regional Storage (US only) per month; one f1 micro-compute instance that comes with the requisite virtual machine features; various web applications and mobile backends; NoSQL database; messaging and streaming data services; and loads more.

Not to be confused with the ‘Always Free’ tier, the ‘12-month, $300 free trial’ tier slightly differs from the former with a consumable $300 credit, which can be used for any Google Cloud Platform products such as Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Functions, and Google Stackdriver. This free credit is given upon sign-up and is valid over the course of the 12-month trial period; previously, it could be used only within the first 60 days.

The catch

The ‘Always Free’ tier has usage limits and is subject to eligibility and requirements, which include an upgraded billing account and a good Google account standing. There are also regional restrictions, with many of the associated Google Cloud products and services being offered only in Google’s us-east1, us-west1 and us-central1 regions.

Other providers

Google’s cloud platform services and tier offerings are similar to those of leading cloud providers in the market, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Like Google Cloud Platform, AWS also offers a free tier (‘AWS Free Tier’) and a 12-month free option. Google’s noticeable advantage is the free virtual machines — something that Amazon does not, or is yet, to offer.

From this new service tier, one can surmise how competitive the cloud market is. Google’s generous offer of a $300 free trial credit was apparently not enough to persuade users of competitors’ services, particularly those who have been using Amazon’s platform, which explains the new and improved ‘Always Free’ tier.

It’s easy to become complacent in choosing the best cloud provider as there are a lot, but even though there are many similarities among the services offered by Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, some cloud platforms fit certain businesses better than others. Looking for a cloud platform that’s perfect for your business? Call us today for professional cloud advice.

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‘Always Free’ added to Google Cloud Platform

2017March20Google_ATo those who are unfamiliar with Google Cloud Platform, it’s an app-development program offered via Google’s public cloud. It is Google’s answer to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Like those two cloud platforms, Google Cloud Platform offers similar services and a similarly structured free-trial period. Recently, Google improved its own service with an ‘Always Free’ tier, which enhances its free-trial offering with more cloud features. Let’s take a look.

What’s included?

With 15 new services in total, Google’s ‘Always Free’ Cloud Platform provides users with 5GB of Regional Storage (US only) per month; one f1 micro-compute instance that comes with the requisite virtual machine features; various web applications and mobile backends; NoSQL database; messaging and streaming data services; and loads more.

Not to be confused with the ‘Always Free’ tier, the ‘12-month, $300 free trial’ tier slightly differs from the former with a consumable $300 credit, which can be used for any Google Cloud Platform products such as Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Functions, and Google Stackdriver. This free credit is given upon sign-up and is valid over the course of the 12-month trial period; previously, it could be used only within the first 60 days.

The catch

The ‘Always Free’ tier has usage limits and is subject to eligibility and requirements, which include an upgraded billing account and a good Google account standing. There are also regional restrictions, with many of the associated Google Cloud products and services being offered only in Google’s us-east1, us-west1 and us-central1 regions.

Other providers

Google’s cloud platform services and tier offerings are similar to those of leading cloud providers in the market, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Like Google Cloud Platform, AWS also offers a free tier (‘AWS Free Tier’) and a 12-month free option. Google’s noticeable advantage is the free virtual machines — something that Amazon does not, or is yet, to offer.

From this new service tier, one can surmise how competitive the cloud market is. Google’s generous offer of a $300 free trial credit was apparently not enough to persuade users of competitors’ services, particularly those who have been using Amazon’s platform, which explains the new and improved ‘Always Free’ tier.

It’s easy to become complacent in choosing the best cloud provider as there are a lot, but even though there are many similarities among the services offered by Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, some cloud platforms fit certain businesses better than others. Looking for a cloud platform that’s perfect for your business? Call us today for professional cloud advice.

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OMS: The best way to organize online sales

2017March17Business_CThere are so many variables that go into order fulfillment and shipping that it’s no wonder an entire field has sprung up around streamlining these processes. If you’re looking for a great way to add value to your business, an order management system may be just the thing for you.

First off, we need to clarify that inventory management systems (IMSs) are not the same as order management systems (OMSs). The former is a solution for analyzing your sales history as a means to forecast demand for your product and the materials you will need in the future, while the latter is all about the here and now.

What does an OMS do for you?

One of the toughest things about managing an eCommerce store is juggling a growing number of sales, each at totally different steps in your shipping process. An OMS service is all about organizing your orders into a coherent and manageable workflow. Here are just some of the difficulties it helps you wrangle:

  • Your eCommerce store can be connected to your inventory. If something is out of stock, it can be reflected on your site so customers aren’t misled about the availability of your product.
  • Payment authorizations can be automated and integrated with your shipping services.
  • You can provide reports to your customers about their order’s shipping status. From intra-warehouse movements to on-the-truck updates, one page will have all the information they need.
  • Products and materials can be automatically restocked once they dip below a certain threshold.
  • Refund and returns can be automatically processed by your OMS.

And like any industry, there are dozens of OMS platforms with niche functionalities that may be better for your specific business model. The most important thing is that you find a solution that decreases the most tedious organizational tasks for tracking your store’s orders.

The cloud-based OMS

Orders are streaming in at all hours of the day, and you can’t guarantee that you’ll always be in the office when you need to check the status of an order. A cloud-based OMS stores all your information in a centralized location so you can access your information from home, the warehouse floor, or even while waiting for takeoff.

The cloud is generally one of the most reliable ways to add value to your business. There are dozens of platforms, just like OMSs, that require virtually no hardware and allow you to pay for exactly what you use. For advice on which solutions are best for your business, and how to deploy them, call us today.

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Order management systems and eCommerce

2017March17Business_BIf business value is all about the long-term health and well-being of your company, there are few things more important than getting your product into customers’ hands swiftly and efficiently. Thankfully, modern technology has revolutionized these tasks and how you add value to your business. Let’s take a look at one of the most recent examples.

First off, we need to clarify that inventory management systems (IMSs) are not the same as order management systems (OMSs). The former is a solution for analyzing your sales history as a means to forecast demand for your product and the materials you will need in the future, while the latter is all about the here and now.

What does an OMS do for you?

One of the toughest things about managing an eCommerce store is juggling a growing number of sales, each at totally different steps in your shipping process. An OMS service is all about organizing your orders into a coherent and manageable workflow. Here are just some of the difficulties it helps you wrangle:

  • Your eCommerce store can be connected to your inventory. If something is out of stock, it can be reflected on your site so customers aren’t misled about the availability of your product.
  • Payment authorizations can be automated and integrated with your shipping services.
  • You can provide reports to your customers about their order’s shipping status. From intra-warehouse movements to on-the-truck updates, one page will have all the information they need.
  • Products and materials can be automatically restocked once they dip below a certain threshold.
  • Refund and returns can be automatically processed by your OMS.

And like any industry, there are dozens of OMS platforms with niche functionalities that may be better for your specific business model. The most important thing is that you find a solution that decreases the most tedious organizational tasks for tracking your store’s orders.

The cloud-based OMS

Orders are streaming in at all hours of the day, and you can’t guarantee that you’ll always be in the office when you need to check the status of an order. A cloud-based OMS stores all your information in a centralized location so you can access your information from home, the warehouse floor, or even while waiting for takeoff.

The cloud is generally one of the most reliable ways to add value to your business. There are dozens of platforms, just like OMSs, that require virtually no hardware and allow you to pay for exactly what you use. For advice on which solutions are best for your business, and how to deploy them, call us today.

Posted in Business, General Articles B | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

What are order management systems?

2017March17Business_AAdding value to your organization is very different than it was a few decades ago. Whereas business owners previously sought more tangible boosts like equipment and staff, cloud technology has totally changed the game. Now, a single piece of software is all it takes to totally revolutionize your fulfillment and shipping process.

First off, we need to clarify that inventory management systems (IMSs) are not the same as order management systems (OMSs). The former is a solution for analyzing your sales history as a means to forecast demand for your product and the materials you will need in the future, while the latter is all about the here and now.

What does an OMS do for you?

One of the toughest things about managing an eCommerce store is juggling a growing number of sales, each at totally different steps in your shipping process. An OMS service is all about organizing your orders into a coherent and manageable workflow. Here are just some of the difficulties it helps you wrangle:

  • Your eCommerce store can be connected to your inventory. If something is out of stock, it can be reflected on your site so customers aren’t misled about the availability of your product.
  • Payment authorizations can be automated and integrated with your shipping services.
  • You can provide reports to your customers about their order’s shipping status. From intra-warehouse movements to on-the-truck updates, one page will have all the information they need.
  • Products and materials can be automatically restocked once they dip below a certain threshold.
  • Refund and returns can be automatically processed by your OMS.

And like any industry, there are dozens of OMS platforms with niche functionalities that may be better for your specific business model. The most important thing is that you find a solution that decreases the most tedious organizational tasks for tracking your store’s orders.

The cloud-based OMS

Orders are streaming in at all hours of the day, and you can’t guarantee that you’ll always be in the office when you need to check the status of an order. A cloud-based OMS stores all your information in a centralized location so you can access your information from home, the warehouse floor, or even while waiting for takeoff.

The cloud is generally one of the most reliable ways to add value to your business. There are dozens of platforms, just like OMSs, that require virtually no hardware and allow you to pay for exactly what you use. For advice on which solutions are best for your business, and how to deploy them, call us today.

Posted in Business, General Articles A | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Cloudbleed: Your data could be at risk

2017March16Web & Cloud_CA small error in Cloudflare’s code has spilled millions of login credentials, personal information, and cookies all over the internet. The bug, known as Cloudbleed, was discovered by the internet security company last month, and since then, they have worked to mitigate the security risks. So far, it appears that hackers have yet to exploit this vulnerability, and that’s why internet users have to remain vigilant. Find out what Cloudbleed can do and how you can stay safe.

What is Cloudbleed?
Although it’s technically similar to Heartbleed, a bug that compromised millions of websites and accounts, Cloudbleed is less severe. Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy discovered that several Cloudflare-hosted websites, including Fitbit, Uber, and OkCupid, were inadvertently leaking customer information and saving them within the source code.

For example, when a person visits a bugged Uber page, the website code could contain data and login credentials from another user who recently visited the page. The data may be hidden between several lines of code, but a skilled hacker can easily find it.

Exploiting it, however, is more difficult. The Cloudbleed bug collects random bits of data, which may or may not contain any sensitive information, making it a less attractive point of attack for cybercriminals. Over time, a cybercriminal may be able to compile enough information to exploit, but it doesn’t seem to be a viable option for targeted attacks.

The response
According to Cloudflare, Cloudbleed was triggered 1,240,00 times and found in 6,400 websites between September 22 and February 18. After the bug was discovered, the internet security company quickly alerted affected websites, fixed the code, removed cached pages from search engines, and monitored client websites for any strange website activity.

Cloudflare-hosted websites also checked what data was leaked and reassured customers that there was minimal impact to their private information.

What can you do?
While Cloudflare and other companies are telling everyone that the possibility of Cloudbleed attacks and password leaks is low, you should still ensure your account is safe.

Start by setting stronger passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Make sure to set unique passwords for every online service, especially for any of your accounts that use Cloudflare. Whenever possible, use two-factor verification to keep your account secure even if someone gets a hold of your password.

And, last but not least, contact us for any cybersecurity, cloud, and website issues. We aim to make your internet and cloud experience as safe as possible.

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Beware of the Cloudbleed bug

2017March16Web & Cloud_BCloudflare, an internet security services company, found a major bug in its software that leaked sensitive data like cookies and passwords from client websites. Although investigation into the security flaw, also known as Cloudbleed, is still underway, early reports found that malicious hackers have not exploited this vulnerability. Even still, you should know what you’re up against.

What is Cloudbleed?
Although it’s technically similar to Heartbleed, a bug that compromised millions of websites and accounts, Cloudbleed is less severe. Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy discovered that several Cloudflare-hosted websites, including Fitbit, Uber, and OkCupid, were inadvertently leaking customer information and saving them within the source code.

For example, when a person visits a bugged Uber page, the website code could contain data and login credentials from another user who recently visited the page. The data may be hidden between several lines of code, but a skilled hacker can easily find it.

Exploiting it, however, is more difficult. The Cloudbleed bug collects random bits of data, which may or may not contain any sensitive information, making it a less attractive point of attack for cybercriminals. Over time, a cybercriminal may be able to compile enough information to exploit, but it doesn’t seem to be a viable option for targeted attacks.

The response
According to Cloudflare, Cloudbleed was triggered 1,240,00 times and found in 6,400 websites between September 22 and February 18. After the bug was discovered, the internet security company quickly alerted affected websites, fixed the code, removed cached pages from search engines, and monitored client websites for any strange website activity.

Cloudflare-hosted websites also checked what data was leaked and reassured customers that there was minimal impact to their private information.

What can you do?
While Cloudflare and other companies are telling everyone that the possibility of Cloudbleed attacks and password leaks is low, you should still ensure your account is safe.

Start by setting stronger passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Make sure to set unique passwords for every online service, especially for any of your accounts that use Cloudflare. Whenever possible, use two-factor verification to keep your account secure even if someone gets a hold of your password.

And, last but not least, contact us for any cybersecurity, cloud, and website issues. We aim to make your internet and cloud experience as safe as possible.

Posted in General Articles B, Web & Cloud | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed
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