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CryptoLocker ransomware may cost you all of your data, or up to $4,000 USD in ransom

 

There is a virus making the rounds that encrypts all of the data on your computer’s hard drive, any mapped network drives or computers accessible from your computer, and all of the data on your backup drive if it's online (connected and powered on) when your PC is infected with CryptoLocker.  If you backup your data to the cloud (data storage services on the internet) and it doesn't have versioning, it will probably just contain copies of your encrypted files.

 

Because the virus uses social engineering, even the best anti-virus/anti-mailware programs won't protect you.  It is especially important to do the following:

  • keep your anti-virus, anti-malware and web-facing programs (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, JAVA, Adobe Flash Player, etc.) up-to-date
  • make regular backups and keep them offline (disconnected or turned off)
  • don't leave mapped drives connected; connect just when you need to use them
  • ensure all computers in your network have stong passwords
  • don't open e-mails or e-mail attachments from people you don’t know, or when you were not expecting them (e.g. your bank, UPS/FedEx, etc.)
  • don't download files from other than trusted sites

 

There is a free program (CryptoPrevent) that prevents this virus from executing and doing its dirty work.  There is also CryptoGuard  a free program that prevents your browsers from connecting with the servers that issue the encryption key that would be used by CryptoLocker to encrypt your data.  The logic behind CryptoGuard, is that If CryptoLocker can't get the encryption key, it can't encrypt your data. One or both of these programs has to be installed before you get infected.

 

Once your computer is infected, removing the virus does not decrypt your data.  In fact, doing so makes it more difficult to pay the ransom to have the data decrypted.  If you don’t have an offline backup and your computer gets infected, you’re out of luck or up to $4,000 USD if you want your data back.  (The $4,000 price is for those whose anti-virus program removed the virus and/or those who didn't pay for the decryption key within the alloted 72 hours, and need to obtain the key in a follow-up procedure, as explained in this blog).

 

If after reading the articles in the above links you need some help, please give us a call (613-592-8485) or drop us an e-mail. 
 

 
Beware of “Pizza Techs”
“Pizza Tech” is a derogatory term that legitimate PC repair businesses use to describe low-priced, fly-by-night computer repair people who repair computers for just enough money to buy pizza and beer. Their rates are extremely low and reflect their lack of technical qualifications, business registration and ethics. They see nothing wrong with using or installing pirated, illegal or unlicensed copies of Windows or computer programs and will offer to install them for a very low price or for free. So why beware of them?  Read more...
 
 
 "Microsoft" (or "Rogers") Support Scam

If you receive a telephone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or Rogers, saying that your computer has been broadcasting viruses or has generated an error report and they are calling to resolve it — immediately hang up the phone, it's a scam! Microsoft and Rogers Technical Support never make unsolicited telephone calls. These scammers will try to get you to go to a web site or to run a program to help diagnose or fix the fictitious problem, but it is really to enable them to take control of your computer so they can steal personal information, credit card details, banking information, or passwords.


It is not uncommon for Windows to have problems and to offer to send problem reports to Microsoft, so it's a persuasive ruse. The caller will be very assertive and almost abusive to those who challenge them or refuse the bait, but don't be bullied. Hang up! If you are having problems with your computer or suspect that it may have a virus, you do the calling. Call a local tech whose identity, credentials and location can be verified through a telephone call that you make. I also recommend that you undo whatever they did, by running System Restore. Select a restore date and time that pre-dates the call.


Over-Heating Laptops

A common hardware problem that users experience with laptops, is overheating. It can be very serious and cause failure of the solder joints that attach the Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) chip to the laptop's circuit board (motherboard). The GPU is often incorporated into another chip that controls the overall functioning of the laptop--the Northbridge chip. When these solder joints fail, the laptop either won't start up or there will be a blank or distorted display.
 
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How to Choose an Anti-Virus Program
Virus infections are the bane of many computer users. More and more viruses are really nasty and difficult to remove without re-formatting the hard drive and re-installing Windows from scratch. Given the increasing difficulty of removing infections, virus protection is vital. Yet, determining which anti-virus program provides the best protection is not easy. How does one decide? The most popular, recognizable or expensive products are not necessarily the best. Brand leadership can often be attributed to more effective marketing, not better performance.  Read more...

 

 

 

How to Avoid Having Your E-mail or Online Accounts Hacked

If your friends complain of receiving fraudulent e-mails from you and you can’t log into your account any more, your e-mail account may have been hacked. Hackers typically change your password and then send spam or fraudulent e-mail to people in the account's address book. How can this happen? You could have set yourself up for it by using a weak password, e.g., a word that is in a dictionary, a list of commonly used passwords (like “passw0rd, abc123, etc.), or information about you that can be found on the internet, e.g., your nickname; place or date of birth; home address; telephone number; the name of your spouse, child, pet, mother's madden name; etc.  Read more...


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Microsoft Office Alternative Free!
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A recent SquareTrade, Inc. study of 30,000 laptops reported that 31% of the brand new laptops failed within three years — 20.4% from hardware malfunction and 10.6% from accidental damage. The most reliable brands were found to be Asus, Sony and Toshiba and the least reliable to be Acer, Gateway and HP. Those tiny netbooks failed from hardware malfunction in their first year 20% more often than regular laptops. The three-year projected malfunction rates for netbooks, entry-level laptops and premium laptops are 25.1%, 20.6% and 18.1%, respectively.  Read more...


Data Backup
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Hard Drive Images
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Say WOT? Video Professor a Scam?

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