All posts by Trever Simes

Hackers hijack PCs to steal cryptocurrency

There’s a new cyberattack in town, and it’s out to get your Bitcoins. Cryptojacking has grown in popularity over the past few months mainly because of the increasing value of cryptocurrency. So if you notice your computer slowing down, hackers may already be using your hardware to make easy money.

Hijacked hardware
Cryptojacking secretly uses your computer to calculate complex mathematical problems to generate cryptocurrency. They get inside by using phishing emails to lure victims into clicking on a link, which then runs malicious cryptomining programs on the computer. Any cryptocurrency produced then gets delivered to the hacker’s private server.

But hackers have developed an even more insidious tactic. By infecting websites with ads and plugins that run cryptojacking code, any visitor who loads the web page instantly gets infected with the malware, sending their computer’s processor into overdrive trying to generate cryptocurrency.

Unlike most malware, cryptojacking software won’t compromise your data. But it will hijack your hardware’s processing power, decreasing performance while increasing your power and cooling bills. So instead of paying for the computing power themselves, hackers can simply use thousands of compromised computers.

Surge in cryptojacking
It’s difficult to tell how much hackers are making with cryptojacking, but there’s a good chance that this type of attack will be as popular as ransomware was in 2017. In fact, for as little as $30, anyone can purchase a cryptojacking kit from the dark web to force other computers to generate Bitcoin or Monero for them.

According to several reports, even sites like The Pirate Bay, Openload, and OnlineVideoConverter are allegedly using cryptojacking exploits to diversify their revenue streams.

The biggest reason why this is becoming so popular is because it’s a low-risk, high-reward scheme. Instead of extorting money directly from the victim, hackers can secretly generate digital currencies without the victim knowing.

If it is detected, it’s also very hard to track down who initiated the attack. And since nothing was actually “stolen” (other than a portion of computing power), victims have little incentive to apprehend the culprit.

Prevention and response
To avoid cryptojacking, you need to incorporate it into your monthly security training sessions. Teach your employees to practice extra caution with unsolicited emails and suspicious links. Using ad-blocker or anti-cryptomining extensions on web browsers is also a great way to stay protected.

Beyond prevention, use network monitoring solutions to detect any unusual behavior with your computers. For example, if you notice a significant number of PCs running slower than usual, you should assume that cryptojacking is taking place.

If you’ve confirmed that it is, advise your staff to close browser tabs and update browser extensions as soon as possible.

Cryptojacking may seem less threatening than some malware we’ve discussed in the past, but it can incur real power, cooling, and performance costs to your business when several systems are compromised. To make sure you don’t end up enriching any hackers, call us today. We offer hardware solutions and cybersecurity tips to keep your business safe and sound.

Cryptojacking: How to protect yourself

Over time, your computer will work slower as software requirements become more demanding. But if you have a relatively new computer, and are experiencing performance problems after clicking a link or visiting a website, you might be the victim of a new cyberattack scheme known as cryptojacking.

Hijacked hardware
Cryptojacking secretly uses your computer to calculate complex mathematical problems to generate cryptocurrency. They get inside by using phishing emails to lure victims into clicking on a link, which then runs malicious cryptomining programs on the computer. Any cryptocurrency produced then gets delivered to the hacker’s private server.

But hackers have developed an even more insidious tactic. By infecting websites with ads and plugins that run cryptojacking code, any visitor who loads the web page instantly gets infected with the malware, sending their computer’s processor into overdrive trying to generate cryptocurrency.

Unlike most malware, cryptojacking software won’t compromise your data. But it will hijack your hardware’s processing power, decreasing performance while increasing your power and cooling bills. So instead of paying for the computing power themselves, hackers can simply use thousands of compromised computers.

Surge in cryptojacking
It’s difficult to tell how much hackers are making with cryptojacking, but there’s a good chance that this type of attack will be as popular as ransomware was in 2017. In fact, for as little as $30, anyone can purchase a cryptojacking kit from the dark web to force other computers to generate Bitcoin or Monero for them.

According to several reports, even sites like The Pirate Bay, Openload, and OnlineVideoConverter are allegedly using cryptojacking exploits to diversify their revenue streams.

The biggest reason why this is becoming so popular is because it’s a low-risk, high-reward scheme. Instead of extorting money directly from the victim, hackers can secretly generate digital currencies without the victim knowing.

If it is detected, it’s also very hard to track down who initiated the attack. And since nothing was actually “stolen” (other than a portion of computing power), victims have little incentive to apprehend the culprit.

Prevention and response
To avoid cryptojacking, you need to incorporate it into your monthly security training sessions. Teach your employees to practice extra caution with unsolicited emails and suspicious links. Using ad-blocker or anti-cryptomining extensions on web browsers is also a great way to stay protected.

Beyond prevention, use network monitoring solutions to detect any unusual behavior with your computers. For example, if you notice a significant number of PCs running slower than usual, you should assume that cryptojacking is taking place.

If you’ve confirmed that it is, advise your staff to close browser tabs and update browser extensions as soon as possible.

Cryptojacking may seem less threatening than some malware we’ve discussed in the past, but it can incur real power, cooling, and performance costs to your business when several systems are compromised. To make sure you don’t end up enriching any hackers, call us today. We offer hardware solutions and cybersecurity tips to keep your business safe and sound.

Are hackers using your PC to mine Bitcoin?

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Monero are so popular because they’re secure and potentially worth thousands of dollars. But investors and consumers aren’t the only ones interested in them. Hackers are using malicious tactics to steal cryptocurrency, and they’re doing it with something called cryptojacking.

Hijacked hardware
Cryptojacking secretly uses your computer to calculate complex mathematical problems to generate cryptocurrency. They get inside by using phishing emails to lure victims into clicking on a link, which then runs malicious cryptomining programs on the computer. Any cryptocurrency produced then gets delivered to the hacker’s private server.

But hackers have developed an even more insidious tactic. By infecting websites with ads and plugins that run cryptojacking code, any visitor who loads the web page instantly gets infected with the malware, sending their computer’s processor into overdrive trying to generate cryptocurrency.

Unlike most malware, cryptojacking software won’t compromise your data. But it will hijack your hardware’s processing power, decreasing performance while increasing your power and cooling bills. So instead of paying for the computing power themselves, hackers can simply use thousands of compromised computers.

Surge in cryptojacking
It’s difficult to tell how much hackers are making with cryptojacking, but there’s a good chance that this type of attack will be as popular as ransomware was in 2017. In fact, for as little as $30, anyone can purchase a cryptojacking kit from the dark web to force other computers to generate Bitcoin or Monero for them.

According to several reports, even sites like The Pirate Bay, Openload, and OnlineVideoConverter are allegedly using cryptojacking exploits to diversify their revenue streams.

The biggest reason why this is becoming so popular is because it’s a low-risk, high-reward scheme. Instead of extorting money directly from the victim, hackers can secretly generate digital currencies without the victim knowing.

If it is detected, it’s also very hard to track down who initiated the attack. And since nothing was actually “stolen” (other than a portion of computing power), victims have little incentive to apprehend the culprit.

Prevention and response
To avoid cryptojacking, you need to incorporate it into your monthly security training sessions. Teach your employees to practice extra caution with unsolicited emails and suspicious links. Using ad-blocker or anti-cryptomining extensions on web browsers is also a great way to stay protected.

Beyond prevention, use network monitoring solutions to detect any unusual behavior with your computers. For example, if you notice a significant number of PCs running slower than usual, you should assume that cryptojacking is taking place.

If you’ve confirmed that it is, advise your staff to close browser tabs and update browser extensions as soon as possible.

Cryptojacking may seem less threatening than some malware we’ve discussed in the past, but it can incur real power, cooling, and performance costs to your business when several systems are compromised. To make sure you don’t end up enriching any hackers, call us today. We offer hardware solutions and cybersecurity tips to keep your business safe and sound.

Using Cortana to Organize Business

You are probably already aware of Cortana, the Windows 10 AI personal assistant. Did you know that you can use it to improve the efficiency and productivity of your business? With a better understanding of its basic functions, you’ll be on your way to becoming an AI-powered organization.
To take advantage of Cortana, you should enable it on your desktop first. The process is easy: Just press the Windows Key, type “cortana” and click on “Cortana settings.” From there, you can change whether it responds to your voice or get activated by a keyboard shortcut, and you can set other personal preferences.

Voice Reminders, Notes and Alarms

As soon as you enable “Hey, Cortana” on all your gadgets, you can begin using it to dictate notes, set alarms, and create reminders. Thanks to advancements in AI, Cortana should be able to recognize most natural-language requests, like “Wake me up at 9am tomorrow,” or “Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, you can use it as a voice recorder during meetings instead of writing down notes. Just say, “Hey Cortana, make a new note in OneNote,” and whatever is recorded will automatically be saved to OneNote!

AI-Scheduled Meetings

With Microsoft’s new Calendar.help feature, you can issue commands to a group email chain by saying things like, “Hey Cortana, can you help us book a 30-minute call next week?”

Calendar.help will work with Cortana to contact each attendee individually, find out what times they are available, and pick the best option for the group. You would only need to email the details, including duration, agenda and location, before you cc Cortana and forward it to the people involved. At that point, Cortana will send invites and handle all email exchanges. For now the project is still in preview/beta, so you will need to sign up.

Quick Conversions and Calculations

There are times when you need to make some calculations, but Googling or using your phone’s calculator just takes too much time. Cortana can answer complicated math problems, even if they are stated in plain language. What’s more, Cortana is able to convert temperature, time zone, weight, and volume.

Cortana will not only improve your business processes, but also help create a more relaxed workplace. And when employees are less stressed, everyone experiences more rewarding workdays.

We’re experts in traditional office IT, but we’re also pretty savvy with exciting new tools like Cortana. Send us a message today to learn more tips on improving productivity in your workplace.

Cortana Improves Business Productivity

With so many affordable IT tools on the market, it’s a great time to be a small-business owner. Most of them are basic and won’t require much training, too, so you don’t have to be tech-savvy to use them effectively. All you have to do is find the right one for your particular goals and needs.

To take advantage of Cortana, you should enable it on your desktop first. The process is easy: Just press the Windows Key, type “cortana” and click on “Cortana settings.” From there, you can change whether it responds to your voice or get activated by a keyboard shortcut, and you can set other personal preferences.

Voice Reminders, Notes and Alarms

As soon as you enable “Hey, Cortana” on all your gadgets, you can begin using it to dictate notes, set alarms, and create reminders. Thanks to advancements in AI, Cortana should be able to recognize most natural-language requests, like “Wake me up at 9am tomorrow,” or “Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, you can use it as a voice recorder during meetings instead of writing down notes. Just say, “Hey Cortana, make a new note in OneNote,” and whatever is recorded will automatically be saved to OneNote!

AI-Scheduled Meetings

With Microsoft’s new Calendar.help feature, you can issue commands to a group email chain by saying things like, “Hey Cortana, can you help us book a 30-minute call next week?”

Calendar.help will work with Cortana to contact each attendee individually, find out what times they are available, and pick the best option for the group. You would only need to email the details, including duration, agenda and location, before you cc Cortana and forward it to the people involved. At that point, Cortana will send invites and handle all email exchanges. For now the project is still in preview/beta, so you will need to sign up.

Quick Conversions and Calculations

There are times when you need to make some calculations, but Googling or using your phone’s calculator just takes too much time. Cortana can answer complicated math problems, even if they are stated in plain language. What’s more, Cortana is able to convert temperature, time zone, weight, and volume.

Cortana will not only improve your business processes, but also help create a more relaxed workplace. And when employees are less stressed, everyone experiences more rewarding workdays.

We’re experts in traditional office IT, but we’re also pretty savvy with exciting new tools like Cortana. Send us a message today to learn more tips on improving productivity in your workplace.

Improve Business Productivity with Cortana

As an entrepreneur, you understand how essential time is. There is always a need to come up with new processes or search for new technology to keep your office organized. If you use Windows 10, you already have an underutilized tool right in front of you.

To take advantage of Cortana, you should enable it on your desktop first. The process is easy: Just press the Windows Key, type “cortana” and click on “Cortana settings.” From there, you can change whether it responds to your voice or get activated by a keyboard shortcut, and you can set other personal preferences.

Voice Reminders, Notes and Alarms

As soon as you enable “Hey, Cortana” on all your gadgets, you can begin using it to dictate notes, set alarms, and create reminders. Thanks to advancements in AI, Cortana should be able to recognize most natural-language requests, like “Wake me up at 9am tomorrow,” or “Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, you can use it as a voice recorder during meetings instead of writing down notes. Just say, “Hey Cortana, make a new note in OneNote,” and whatever is recorded will automatically be saved to OneNote!

AI-Scheduled Meetings

With Microsoft’s new Calendar.help feature, you can issue commands to a group email chain by saying things like, “Hey Cortana, can you help us book a 30-minute call next week?”

Calendar.help will work with Cortana to contact each attendee individually, find out what times they are available, and pick the best option for the group. You would only need to email the details, including duration, agenda and location, before you cc Cortana and forward it to the people involved. At that point, Cortana will send invites and handle all email exchanges. For now the project is still in preview/beta, so you will need to sign up.

Quick Conversions and Calculations

There are times when you need to make some calculations, but Googling or using your phone’s calculator just takes too much time. Cortana can answer complicated math problems, even if they are stated in plain language. What’s more, Cortana is able to convert temperature, time zone, weight, and volume.

Cortana will not only improve your business processes, but also help create a more relaxed workplace. And when employees are less stressed, everyone experiences more rewarding workdays.

We’re experts in traditional office IT, but we’re also pretty savvy with exciting new tools like Cortana. Send us a message today to learn more tips on improving productivity in your workplace.

Single Sign-On: The Answer to User Management

Everyone hates making passwords. From complexity requirements to minimum lengths, each new account brings its own set of headaches. If this problem is reaching a boiling point, Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions can help. They’re secure, easy-to-manage, and do away with the need to manage a long list of usernames and passwords.

What is SSO?

Single Sign-On solutions allow you to create one username and one password that thousands of websites will recognize. If you’ve ever clicked ‘Login with Google’ on a non-Google website, you’ve already enjoyed the benefits of SSO. It’s faster, simpler, and more secure. Now, small businesses can accomplish the same level of efficiency between their employees and cloud platforms.

Instead of asking everyone in the office to track separate accounts for Office 365, Slack, Quickbooks, and whatever other cloud applications your company relies on, you can give them one set of credentials and manage what they have access to remotely. Employees come to work, enter their ACME Inc. username and password, and they’re set for the day.

Why is SSO more secure?

There are a number of ways to set up a small-business SSO solution, but most of them focus on removing login information from your servers or network storage. Usually, you’ll provide your employees’ logins to an SSO provider (sometimes referred to as an Identity-as-a-Service provider) and each employee will receive a single login paired with a secondary authentication — like a fingerprint or an SMS to a personal device.

Each time one of your employees visits a cloud platform, such as Office 365, the SSO provider will verify the user’s identity and the security of the connection. If anything looks amiss, your IT provider will be notified.

Should your network or any of its devices be compromised, hackers would find nothing but logins to your SSO accounts, which are meaningless without fingerprints or mobile devices.

How to get started with SSO

The first step when setting up a Single Sign-On solution is making sure you have a healthy and responsive IT support system in place. You need a team that is constantly available to review suspicious alerts and troubleshoot employee issues. If you don’t currently have that capacity, contact us today and we’ll help you out!

Use Single Sign-On to Tackle Account Sprawl

No matter how valuable your cloud subscriptions are, each new set of login credentials users are forced to create and memorize adds another level of inefficiency. With something called Single Sign-On (SSO), you can create one user profile that logs you into all your online accounts. If you’re overwhelmed by the number of passwords linked to your name, SSO is a dream come true.

What is SSO?

Single Sign-On solutions allow you to create one username and one password that thousands of websites will recognize. If you’ve ever clicked ‘Login with Google’ on a non-Google website, you’ve already enjoyed the benefits of SSO. It’s faster, simpler, and more secure. Now, small businesses can accomplish the same level of efficiency between their employees and cloud platforms.

Instead of asking everyone in the office to track separate accounts for Office 365, Slack, Quickbooks, and whatever other cloud applications your company relies on, you can give them one set of credentials and manage what they have access to remotely. Employees come to work, enter their ACME Inc. username and password, and they’re set for the day.

Why is SSO more secure?

There are a number of ways to set up a small-business SSO solution, but most of them focus on removing login information from your servers or network storage. Usually, you’ll provide your employees’ logins to an SSO provider (sometimes referred to as an Identity-as-a-Service provider) and each employee will receive a single login paired with a secondary authentication — like a fingerprint or an SMS to a personal device.

Each time one of your employees visits a cloud platform, such as Office 365, the SSO provider will verify the user’s identity and the security of the connection. If anything looks amiss, your IT provider will be notified.

Should your network or any of its devices be compromised, hackers would find nothing but logins to your SSO accounts, which are meaningless without fingerprints or mobile devices.

How to get started with SSO

The first step when setting up a Single Sign-On solution is making sure you have a healthy and responsive IT support system in place. You need a team that is constantly available to review suspicious alerts and troubleshoot employee issues. If you don’t currently have that capacity, contact us today and we’ll help you out!

What Is Single Sign-On and Who Is It For?

Statistics show that the average enterprise uses more than 90 cloud services. Even if small businesses use less than half that number, securely managing account logins is still a huge problem for users and administrators. Single Sign-On (SSO) is an excellent solution to this issue, so let’s dive into how it works.

What is SSO?

Single Sign-On solutions allow you to create one username and one password that thousands of websites will recognize. If you’ve ever clicked ‘Login with Google’ on a non-Google website, you’ve already enjoyed the benefits of SSO. It’s faster, simpler, and more secure. Now, small businesses can accomplish the same level of efficiency between their employees and cloud platforms.

Instead of asking everyone in the office to track separate accounts for Office 365, Slack, Quickbooks, and whatever other cloud applications your company relies on, you can give them one set of credentials and manage what they have access to remotely. Employees come to work, enter their ACME Inc. username and password, and they’re set for the day.

Why is SSO more secure?

There are a number of ways to set up a small-business SSO solution, but most of them focus on removing login information from your servers or network storage. Usually, you’ll provide your employees’ logins to an SSO provider (sometimes referred to as an Identity-as-a-Service provider) and each employee will receive a single login paired with a secondary authentication — like a fingerprint or an SMS to a personal device.

Each time one of your employees visits a cloud platform, such as Office 365, the SSO provider will verify the user’s identity and the security of the connection. If anything looks amiss, your IT provider will be notified.

Should your network or any of its devices be compromised, hackers would find nothing but logins to your SSO accounts, which are meaningless without fingerprints or mobile devices.

How to get started with SSO

The first step when setting up a Single Sign-On solution is making sure you have a healthy and responsive IT support system in place. You need a team that is constantly available to review suspicious alerts and troubleshoot employee issues. If you don’t currently have that capacity, contact us today and we’ll help you out!

Google Introduces New Features for February

As the patience and attention span of web users decline, a minor flaw in a website can make or break a business. People want to be impressed the moment they load a website, and that rarely happens in the presence of annoying ads and videos. Google recognizes this, and has upgraded the Chrome browser accordingly.

Ad Blocking

Android users will be pleased to hear that the newly updated Google Chrome comes with an ad blocking feature. Gone are the days when they have to manually close pop-ups, because Chrome will now automatically stop sites from opening new tabs or windows without users’ permission. This won’t necessarily block all ads, but it should improve your internet browsing experience.

Meanwhile, Chrome will begin restricting certain ads: sticky ads (which remain in the same position even as you scroll), and ads that go over a particular size limit. Moreover, they won’t block static inline photo ads that show up in between two paragraphs in an article. All in all, this feature will prevent nine kinds of ads out of 55 potential ones.

Muting Autoplay Videos

In line with the ad blocking feature, Google has also decided to prevent sites from automatically playing video ads whenever a page loads. You can usually find these types of ads in between paragraphs when reading through an article in the site. This time around, Chrome won’t block video ads, but it will keep them on mute. This way, users can still continue reading the article without any unnecessary background noise.

Marking HTTP Sites as Unsecured

This particular feature should get the attention of small- and medium-sized businesses, as it will affect them personally. Google warns all sites without HTTPS protocol that they will be marked as “not secure” come July. They want to emphasize the importance of HTTPS encryption for web security, stating that it keeps the channel safe between your browser and the site you’re visiting. This guarantees that someone in the middle won’t spy on browsing activity or interfere with traffic.

At the moment, these users can already see a “Secure” sign and a green lock icon on HTTPS-encrypted pages. By July, Chrome’s address bar will be notifying those who enter HTTP sites that they are in an unsecured page.

Staying ahead of Google’s constant updates can be tiring. In the end, you have to realize that these improvements are often in the best interests of your customers and web users in general. If you need a little help with the IT side of things — give us a call today!