Cryptolocker Removal

The Cryptolocker family of ransomware viruses and look-alikes (CTB Locker, Cryptowall, Torrent Locker, Locker, Locky etc.) are now well known as one of the major causes of data corruption and data loss across the world. Cryptolocker doesn’t discriminate, from the single user to the largest corporate network, it can invade and lock down all data inside the network. Once your data is encrypted you are in big trouble! Data retrieval & Cryptolocker removal is a big deal.

Recently new variants have appeared that are essentially the same Trojan, but are much more effective in preventing Cryptolocker removal & data retrieval. Cryptolocker is propagated via infected email attachments, and via a botnet; when activated, the malware encrypts certain types of files stored on local and mounted network drives using RSA public key cryptography.

The payload hides within an attachment or a link to a website. Once a user opens the attachment or the website link, the virus is activated and promptly goes about encrypting your files (both on the infected machine and on any additional network shares it can find).

Once the encryption process is complete a message, pops up on your screen delivering both the bad news and a ransom demand. Extortion of your hard earned money has begun. Because of the high level of encryption used by the virus, the only way to get your data back is either to pay the ransom or recover your files from last night’s backup. In addition, many extorted business owners have reported that the payment of the ransom does not always get their data back.

How to prevent a Cryptolocker infection?

Prevention – don’t open or click on unsolicited emails

  • Educate everyoneon the risk of opening email attachments that they shouldn’t. They may receive an email that they weren’t expecting or something may look wrong about it. These emails can also come from a spoofed account that may look legitimate or even appear to be from someone you know. The bottom line is to always be careful when opening email attachments.
  • Well known examples include emails from Banks, Police, Postal Services & Government agencies – remember if in doubt don’t open or click

How do you mitigate Cryptolocker risk?

Our Number 1 Tip – Always keep a non-networked copy of a backup of your data by rotating storage media – external hard drives or USB or use a non-synced cloud backup resource.

  • Regularly backup important data. Keep it within unconnected storage & rotate storage media.
  • Always ensure your operating system and security software is fully updated.
  • Consider purchase of a specialist anti cryptolocker tool.
  • Consider moving more of your data into cloud storage (not OneDrive or synced storage)
  • Block all .exe and .zip attachments at your email gateway.

What to do if you have Cryptolocker?

If you get a Cryptolocker pop up message on your screen it will generally say that all your files have been locked & encrypted, this means the execute file is in progress or finished the encryption. Before you consider Cryptolocker removal you must immediately do the following to minimise impact on your machine and network (it can spread to others on your network)

  • If one of your computers gets infected, then immediately disconnect it from the network & shut down the infected machine. You should also shut down all other devices on your network.
  • If you have been compromised then immediately change all of your organisation’s network and on-line passwords.
  • Disconnect all backups on your network including other non-infected devices.
  • Removal all LAN & device connections.
  • Call an expert to get professional advice on next steps

Cryptolocker Removal?

Once you have isolated your machine & network, a professional such as Computer Troubleshooters, can do an evaluation of your next steps – checking backups, assess other devices, extent of infection, & the best method of data retrieval.

Once this is done we can determine if we can do a data restoration & Cryptolocker removal – it is a complex process, and in some cases if a backup has not be done properly or the steps above have not been followed it can be a compromise solution, or worse case you may need to pay the ransom. Even if you pay the ransom the Trojan still needs to be removed otherwise it can be reactivated,

Prevention is Key

With this type of threat it is better to “think when, not if”, as the human element eliminates even the best planning. Thinking now about business continuity may save considerable time, expense, and disruption.

Computer Troubleshooters can do an assessment of your business’ computer network. We can also provide recommendations for establishing a strategic approach to cyber security and assist you with a variety of solutions to reduce the risk of a security breach.  We strongly encourage you to prepare your business for the threat of a cyber security crime, call your local Computer Troubleshooters office today for help and advice.

Yammer – What is it?

Microsoft have announced that all Microsoft Office 365 tenants with less than 150 users will have Yammer automatically turned on in their Office 365 tenant. So along with your standard suite of Microsoft Office products (Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, & Excel) you will increasingly see Yammer icons appearing on your screens. So what is Yammer and how can it be used?

Yammer is an enterprise grade Social Networking platform for businesses, and works similarly to Facebook in allowing online conversations between single users and groups.  Yammer can be setup so everyone across your business can access from multiple devices (PC, Mac, iPhone, Smartphones & Tablets) and communicate instantly with groups or other users, this leverages the increasingly integrative cloud capabilities within the core Office 365 product range, cloud applications such as Yammer are fully included in most subscriptions.

Why use Yammer?

Yammer is an integrated communications tool with instant messaging, message posting, group discussions & collaboration that allows security, permissions, & licences. It is controlled by the central admin panel for Office 365, which means you determine who in your organization can use the platform and which groups they can be a member. Unlike Facebook which is a public domain application, Yammer is run as an enterprise grade platform covered by the Office 365 Trust Center with significant privacy & security advantages over public applications.

Yammer is following the huge social shift in communication to online, particularly in the younger generation who have become digital natives with social networking as their preferred method of sharing & nonverbal communication. Many see the Yammer social network for businesses as a way to get work done smarter and faster designed for a generation addicted to social networking. Microsoft say it is a way of “bringing teams together” in a single communication hub reducing email trails, encouraging real time collaboration & feedback.

Users with a license that includes Yammer can start accessing Yammer from Office 365 via the Yammer tile in the Office 365 app launcher or start a Yammer conversation from other Office 365 apps. Existing Yammer users, who are also Office 365 users, can start signing in with their Office 365 credentials, unifying their sign-in experiences

How does Yammer work?

Assuming you have Office 365 you, or your administrator should be able to setup Yammer for your business reasonably easily.

  • User Profiles – The Profile is the starting point for each user with settings for basic personal details, contact information, organisational information, password management, and notification settings.
  • Groups – Groups can be set up internally for employees to share information, set by the group administrator this could be by department, by project, or all company. Users can be invited to join multiple groups & new groups can set setup reasonably easily
  • Internal Networks – Yammer can be set up for both internal & external network communication. The internal (or Verified) network is the main domain that each email is setup against, if all employees have the same domain they can access the full range of Yammer services between internal users.
  • External Networks -Yammer allows you to also join external networks that have members outside your organisation (different domain names), they  can either be public or privately invited (you request to join), there is a great search function that allows you find external networks which you may like to join (e.g. industry groups or subject support groups)
  • Notifications – in settings you can change the notification settings for each group or network, so for an internal group you may wish to see every contribution as it is made and get an daily email summary, while for an external industry network you may wish to get a daily summary as the end of each day. These can be changed by the individual user and generally depends on the traffic & importance  the group or network to the user.

Once your User Profiles, Networks, and Groups have been setup it is time to use the application for communication;

  • Inbox – just like email or on Facebook the inbox shows all activity or posts to have occurred in your internal groups or networks in a conversational flow with images and comments.
  • External Networks – you need to change into an external network to check activity or make a post.
  • Online Now – Yammer has a presence function to identify when other people on your internal network are online and able to chat (each profile online shows a green dot).
  • Update, Poll or Praise – these are types of comments anyone can make to the group to engage members or participate in conversations.
  • Files – Yammer allows files to be uploaded and shared across groups, versions maintained, and stored.
  • Search – The search function in Yammer is powerful using both #hashtags and conversational search it allows users to search group history of conversations, files, & topics, ultimately building a knowledge base within each group.
  • Icons – once you have Yammer working you will have Yammer icon on your PC Taskbar that shows when you have a message in your group.
  • Apps – there are number of Apps that facilitate Yammer on smartphones, iPhone, & Tablets – they all provide notification & user access for contributing on the go. There is an App store for other apps to facilitate specific areas such as awards, suggestion boxes, and milestone reminders for projects.

Do you want to know more about Yammer?

Yammer maybe a great addition for your business & with no additional licence cost as part of many Office 365 subscriptions. Office 365 is increasing the preferred IT platform option for most businesses, we can help with the user setup, data migration, & ongoing administration of the your Office 365 environment, as well as making sure you get the most from the other value added Office 365 services such as OneDrive, Skype for Business, & SharePoint.

Computer Troubleshooters can help you setup Yammer as part of your Office 365 solution and ensure you understand the limitations and recommendations we have around the implementation of these services. Call Computer Troubleshooters today to see how we can get you started with Office 365 and at the same time get you started with Yammer.

How to reduce your business costs?

Reducing business costs is a “no brainer” win for most businesses, you get the upside directly into your net profit without investing more capital & the gains are ongoing. So in your business, where are the best areas to look for cost savings?

The hierarchy of costs in most business are;

  • Cost of Goods – cost of goods sold, distribution costs, inventory holdings and losses.
  • Payroll – staff wages, superannuation, annual leave, long service leave, workers compensation,
  • Overheads – rent on premises, travel, insurance, car, utilities, telecoms, broadband, & IT systems.
  • Marketing – advertising & promotion, printing, postage, web marketing, agency & creative costs.
  • Transactional Costs – banks charges, credit card charges, freight.
  • Outsource – accountant, lawyer, cleaning, specialist support services.

How to finding cost savings in your business?

While every business is different, as a business owner you can employ the same strategies as large corporates or cost analysis teams use to find cost savings:

  • Request Quotes – from existing & alternative suppliers.
  • Reduce Investment – seek alternatives to investing in new infrastructure or assets.
  • Operations – is there a better or new way to operate to achieve your operations goals?
  • Review Business Practices – does your current staff structure match your current requirement?
  • Support – internal staff versus external outsourcing.

When performing this task to finding cost reductions, quite often the answers are not available internally. Often external suppliers & outsourcing companies can tell you about alternatives and what competitors have done that might deliver savings to your business.

In our business we call this an “IT assessment”, where we go into a company and look at their current IT setups, review their business practices, assess their operational goals, and then give recommendations.

How to find ICT cost savings in your business?

We recommend the same approach as the generic saving strategies above: here are some examples of how these types of saving can be achieved;

Telephones & mobiles

  • Ask you existing supplier for a current contract, approach alternative telco for quotes on mobiles, landlines & broadband; this should be done every 2 years as plans change often, particularly with data allowances growing. Remember to approach the SMB focused channels as they generally have cheaper plans to retail shops.
  • Introducing a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy for your business, providing only calls and data to employees this saves contracting phones and tracking devices while the employee get to use their favourite device (iPhone or Android) without you footing the bill.
  • VOIP (Voice over broadband) developments have meant that roaming between office, home, travelling, or even overseas can be seamless to the caller – this means your phone number can follow you around and have integrated messaging with email & SMS.
  • Businesses can reduce investment by not investing in a physical PABX, but using a hosted PABX which is VoIP enabled. Charges are typically by the seat by the month but with cheaper calls and full PABX capabilities.
  • Office 365 includes features such as Skype for Business & Yammer (an internal social media platform) that allows teleconferencing, cheap external calls, internal messaging, and profile tracking that could reduce your external communication & travel costs.

 

IT Systems

  • If you have an external supplier for IT support ask them for a new contract and at the same time seek an IT assessment from another supplier. The key is to compare similar service levels and requirements, at the very least you can be assured you are getting value.
  • If you have internal staff managing your IT then you need to compare costs against the outsourced alternatives. Requesting an IT assessment from an external IT support supplier will be enable you to compare costs, remembering internal staff carry at least a 30% overhead component above their wage cost. Internal staff are often not aware of alternatives or may have a vested interest in not recommending substantial changes to IT support & systems.
  • The development of Cloud Computing has meant that many SMB’s can change business practices & IT structures by shedding internal IT staff, reducing internal IT infrastructure, and outsourcing the remaining support requirements with savings of up to 50% of costs.
  • Switching from internal infrastructure to hosted infrastructure, such as Office 365, can save you on the substantial initial capital investment for hardware & licences. It can also provide flexibility for future growth/decline, plus you save on running costs for rent, air conditioning, electricity, and on premise support that is a necessary part of having an on-premise infrastructure.
  • Cloud hosted systems such as Microsoft Office 365 offer great flexibility & save time for staff to access email and data while not in the office (in fact it can be accessed from anywhere around the world), & from multiple devices. This can only be delivered securely by the centralised Office 365 portal developed for remote management & administration of business accounts.
  • We often find that some companies just use their main business application vendors support desk for general IT support. This can be a very expensive approach to IT support – we recommend splitting applications vendor support from the general IT on premise & user support, this can again save up to 50% of the general IT support costs.

Reducing business costs is great way to improve your businesses bottom line, but it does require a focus on seeking alternatives to current operations and structures.

Call us for an IT Assessment to help find cost savings & reduce your IT costs?

So there are few ways you can drive more savings from your ICT. Ultimately for business we recommend giving us call so we can make a time to discuss your needs and put together recommendations on how we could help your business save ICT costs.

Let the experts at Computer Troubleshooters work with you to assess your IT needs and develop a customized plan for your business to reduce your costs. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you

Microsoft OneDrive – What is it?

Microsoft Office 365 is increasingly integrating cloud capabilities within it’s core Office range (Outlook, Word, Powerpoint, & Excel), cloud applications such as Microsoft OneDrive are fully included in most subscriptions.

Microsoft OneDrive is an external storage resource located in the Microsoft Data Centre in Australia, available as part of your Office 365 subscription package. OneDrive will simply appear as drive in your computer when you migrate to Office 365, much like any other external directory such as your C: drive, USB or portable hard drive. So when you go to save a file you have choice to save to your own hard drive or the OneDrive drive which is located in the Cloud.

Why use Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive is great place to store & share files, as simple as if you would like to hold a duplicate external copy of your file for protection, or you wish to access the file from a remote location from a different device.

OneDrive however is much more, it allows syncing between your devices and sharing with external parties with a permissions. OneDrive for Business is particularly useful for small businesses who may share files on a continual basis and provides a similar advantage to a server in centralizing access and versions with permissions for access. Office 365 business subscriptions include a 1TB data allowance of storage per user, this is a very large amount of data stored in secure & external data centre operated by Microsoft, The three main benefits of OneDrive:

Store – Offsite Storage for up to 1TB of files per user

Sync – OneDrive syncs files changes from any device  or location back to the central version so you always get the most recent version

Share – OneDrive allow files to be shared and accessed with permissions both internally within your organization & externally.

Small business in particular may be able to get most of the benefits of a file server by using OneDrive with little additional cost – so why not use it?

What are the limitation of Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive is wonderful cloud enabled extra in the Office 365 package, but it does have limitations and you need to consider warnings when you choose to move any of your storage to the Cloud.

Data Transfer – like all cloud based service the transfer of data from your premises to the data centre can come with a costs either in additional data usage costs, or in data traffic congestion of your network. The effect on your business will depend on your broadband connection method, ISP, and rate plan, but if you slow down your core business IT infrastructure, it can spell disaster.

Sync – OneDrive is driven by a syncing mode that means newer versions of files can be overlaid over older versions, this is a great feature when you have multiple users using the same file and ensures you always access the latest version, however if you are using OneDrive for backup purposes, the backed up original version may automatically be overwritten by the sync mode.

Off Site but Connected – While the OneDrive storage is physically located remotely from your premises, it still is connected as drive to your system and network. As it appears a dive on your machine (much like your C: drive), should you catch a virus or worse a malware Trojan, such as Crytolocker, it can easy be encrypted or corrupted like any other data on your system. If you are using OneDrive for backup we still recommend a rotation of media or specific backup facilities to fully protect you.

Are you Ready for Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive for Business is a place where you can store, sync, and share your work files. As part of Office 365, OneDrive for Business lets you update and share your files from anywhere and work on Office documents with others at the same time. It can be a great way to great the benefits of a server network without the upfront cost.

Office 365 is increasing the preferred IT platform option for most businesses, we can help with the user setup, data migration, & ongoing administration of the your Office 365 environment, as well as making sure you get the most from the other value added Office 365 services such as OneDrive, Skype for Business, Sharepoint & Yammer.

Computer Troubleshooters can help you understand how your business can benefit by using OneDrive as part of your Office 365 solution and ensure you understand the limitations and recommendations we have around the implementation of these services. Call Computer Troubleshooters today to see how we can get you started with Office 365 and at the same time get you started with OneDrive for Business.

How to recover deleted files – File Recovery

AA004741

As IT support specialists virtually every day we are asked to recover deleted files. With so much valuable information now stored in digital format, with so many devices and options we are all increasingly vulnerable to human error! That’s right over a quarter of data recovery requests are as a result of human intervention.

The good news is that of all the file recovery requests we receive, accidentally deleted files are regarded as our most likely to have a successful file recovery. Recovering deleted files can still be complicated and may require an expert to use Data Recovery software to examine computers storage to find the hidden remains of the deleted files and extract them back into a workable form.

What to do if you accidentally delete a file?

Don’t Panic – we recommend that you keep the computer turned on, and all applications open while you investigate the simple solutions below:

  • Deleted Items – if in email, check the deleted items folder (it is generally near your inbox) this holds all deleted emails until you close your email application. If you can see your deleted file in the deleted items folder just click & drag across back into your inbox. File restored.
  • Recycle Bin – if the file deleted was a document or image file, check your recycle bin, which has icon that is generally found on your desktop, click on the icon, it will show you deleted files that are awaiting permanent deletion (generally these are deleted when the computer powers off), just click and drag back onto your desktop.
  • AutoSave –applications such as word and excel have an Autosave function that can sometimes saved an automated version copy. Within the application click on the top left Office button which will show a menu that includes an item such as Word Options & Save Options, this will generally show the autosave settings and the file location of the autosave directory. You can then go to the indicated location and recover the deleted file (this may vary on depending on which version of Office is installed).
  • File Search – Use the Microsoft Search function located in the Start Button (on the bottom left) to try find your file as you may have saved into the wrong directory or you may find an older version.

If you tried these simple solutions with no luck, then it may be time to get serious,

  • Restore Backup Files – if you have a backup in place you should be able to restore the file back on to your main computer hard drive or course it will only be a version available from last time you backed up. It will depend on where and what software you are using for you backup how this can be done.
  • Software Retrieval – this will mean you need to consult a professional to use data recovery software to interrogate your drive, find, & restore your deleted files. Do not run any disk cleanup or defragmentation tools in the interim as these will overwrite drives which may contain your deleted files. Call your local Computer Troubleshooters for this professional service.
  • No file found – of course we do find times when even we can’t retrieve an accidentally deleted file, that’s when we call in our data recovery partners. Our data recovery partners have specialist equipment, software and use dedicated data recovery technicians to extract hidden data.

Hopefully you will recover your deleted files, of course being proactive about protecting your data is the best protection, back up regularly whether it’s for your business or your personal data.

Yet even with a tested and reliable backup system, sometimes unexpected accidents can still happen. Of course the other 74% of data recovery involves physical damage or corruption which can happen to all data storage devices including hard drives, cell phones and memory sticks.

If required we can use our Data Recovery Partner for the following specialized data recovery services:

  • Hard Drive Recovery: Hard drives are becoming increasingly less common in laptops. External storage devices are in greater use but are at greater risk for being dropped, damaged and compromising your data.
  • Cell Phone and Flash Drives: Flash drives are no moving drives problems such as deleted files, corrupted partitions, file system damage and physically damaged devices can be remedied by their recovery experts.
  • Notebooks, Tablets, Digital Cameras and MP3 Players:  recovery services for Notebook PCs and Tablets. Damaged image or audio files can also be recovered..

Computer Troubleshooters is Here to Protect You and Your Data

If you have accidently deleted files; don’t panic, if approached logically the deleted files can generally be retrieved.

If you need for help recovering a deleted file, or more serious data recovery services, or assistance in establishing a reliable backup solution, call Computer Troubleshooters and one of our technology professionals can help you.