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Here’s What We Know About WannaCry / WannaCrypt / Wcry Ransomware

Over the weekend, businesses, institutions, and individuals in 12+ countries have fallen victim to a ransomware program known as “WannaCrypt”, or a variant thereof. For those unaware, WannaCry is fast-spreading form of malware that remotely targets nearby computers running on unpatched or unsupported versions of Windows.

Once infected, computers with this malware being encrypting all the user files they can find on the network, displaying a red ransom note (below) demanding $300 for a decryption key, with the cost increasing as time goes on.

From a technical perspective, the malware spreads via SMB – that is the Server Message Block protocol – typically used by Windows machines to communicate with file systems over a network.

Microsoft released a fix for the exploits (MS17-010, used as a part of its March “Patch Tuesday” release), but unpatched Windows systems remain vulnerable. If you are certain your PCs were updated after March 28th, you should be safe – if you’re unsure and would like to schedule an assessment, please contact us today!

 

Euclid Network’s Partner Update

For current partners of Euclid Networks, our proactive monitoring and maintenance software ensures all computers on service plans have critical Microsoft patches regularly reviewed, whitelisted by our partner NOC, and deployed to our client’s machines. We strongly believe in a proactive approach to IT Support, and ensuring software is up to date on business systems is our top priority.

Due to the seriousness of this particular outbreak, we are also manually reviewing our partner’s machines to ensure Microsoft security bulletin MS17-010 has been implemented across the board.

Additionally, our Antivirus partner, Webroot, has announced they have deployed preventative measures for this ransomware – and our partners using Dell Sonicwall Firewalls with Comprehensive Gateway Security Suite licenses should rest assured they have another layer of protection, with Sonicwall having discovered this malware and its variants as of mid-April.

 

Your Mitigation Strategies for Ransomware : Backup

In today’s technology environment, having good preventative measures in place is only the first step to having a comprehensive disaster plan in place.

Ideally, you want to have a 3-2-1 backup strategy in place. This means having at least 3 total copies of your data, 2 of which are local but on different physical devices (such as external storage drives) and 1 of which is offsite – preferably cloud based, with versioning capabilities.

If you don’t have a backup strategy in place, or want to re-evaluate your current plan, please contact Euclid Networks for a consultation!

If you’re unsure of how to assess your current needs, just consider your ability to recover from the following scenarios:

  1. All your files become corrupted (or encrypted) and replicated to your backup devices before anyone realizes.
  2. You have backup on one machine or server which is protected, but envision other devices that can communicate with your machine, and how they might be affected by the spread of malware.
  3. Envision a scenario where all your physical devices have been stolen, or your home or business is subject to fire or flood.

Resilience against all of the above scenarios is not difficult, but it takes careful planning, and continually reassessing your technology environment!

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Windows 8.1 Update 1 released, Official MS Support for XP Ends

Today marked two important milestones for business Windows users – the release of Windows 8.1 Update 1 (KB2919355), and the official end of Microsoft support for Windows XP as of April 8th. If your company is still actively using Windows XP, contact us to learn more about what this means for your office’s computers.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 includes some relatively major changes – concessions for folks not using the operating system with a touchscreen. Most notably, the “Start Menu” has been more widely embraced – something MSFT has been reluctant to do, and an option business users have been demanding. Now, even when modern ‘metro’ style apps are in use, the taskbar remains visible. For multi-tasking business users, this feature was sorely missing.

taskbar-improvements-windows-8.1-update

As well, there are updates for the metro style interface – bringing some of the ‘hidden’ right sidebar features (such as search) out into the open. This has been, in our experience, one of the biggest confusing factors for new Windows 8.1 users.

start-screen-revised-small

For our Atlanta business IT support partners running Windows 8.1, rest assured we’ll be rolling this patch out ASAP! For those holding off on upgrading to Microsoft’s latest operating system, this is a small step in the right direction.

Finally, we’ve made some updates of our own to euclidnet.com – We’ve added a dynamic feed of our latest Facebook posts, and our latest Twitter posts, under our ‘about us‘ section. If you haven’t already, remember to Like us on facebook and Follow us on twitter to stay current on one of Atlanta’s best IT support providers, and our tech-tips blog.


How to : Quickly open a command prompt at a location using the Windows Explorer address bar

Ever needed to quickly open a command prompt at a particular location on your hard drive? In the regular course of providing tech support for our Atlanta business partners, we use this quick trick on an almost daily basis.

Simply type ‘cmd’ into your address bar, and voilà – a command prompt at your computer’s current location – in this case c:\Windows.

2014-03-07 tech support command prompt

 

Ridiculously simple, but something many folks don’t know! You can also open any number of other programs in the same manner – the address bar functions in basically the same way as the search dialog in the Windows 7 start menu.

If we’ve helped you out, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Windows Update / Windows Defender gives error 0x8024401C

We see this error typically when there is a network connectivity problem between Windows Update or Windows Defender, and Microsoft’s servers. This problem can occur even when the machine in question has access to the internet, if there is a problem with the windows firewall, erroneous proxy settings, or a corrupted Windows Update database.

For Windows 8, or 8.1, Microsoft has an automated tool that can help check on the status of the database, and in some cases resolve the issue outright. This tool can be found at : Microsoft Source : http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/windows-update-error-0x8024401c

If this automatic tool fails to resolve the problem, attempt the following :

WindowsUpdateFailed-Troubleshooting-Steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Open an Elevated Command Prompt
  2. Type “SFC /scannow” – this will check your windows system files for corruption and repair if possible. If corruption is found, troubleshoot further into hardware failure issues.
  3. Bring up a control panel, and select internet options
  4. In internet options, select “connections”. On the connections screen select “LAN Settings”
  5. Ensure under LAN Settings, the ‘Automatically Detect Settings’ box is checked.
  6. Hit OK, exit out. Reboot if needed, and attempt to update windows again. Problem should be resolved.

How To : Open an “Elevated Command Prompt”

Elevated command prompts are often used to carry out tasks with full administrator rights to your computer. In most cases, you will not want to execute programs with administrator rights, as it opens your system up to security vulnerabilities. Typically you would want to check with your network support professional for help before proceeding with the below.

Windows 7

  1. Open Start Menu
  2. In search box, type ‘cmd’
  3. Right click the CMD program, and select ‘Run as administrator’

how-to-open-elevated-command-prompt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windows 8

  1. Open search screen, using start menu or ‘Charms’ on right hand side of the screen
  2. In search box, type ‘cmd’
  3. Right click the ‘Command Prompt’ program, and select ‘Run as administrator’

how-to-windows-8-elevated-command-prompt


Windows won’t start after Microsoft Update installation

Windows won’t start after update installation

This is a common problem we run in to while providing IT support with older computers. After applying a Microsoft Update patch, windows will partially boot, or not boot at all. Most of the times, windows will boot to its start screen, with a message similar to the below :

“Configuring Windows updates… 90% complete… Do not turn off your computer.”


USB Displayport Adapter causing BSOD with Intel HD4000 Graphics

This computer problem was a bit tough for us to figure out originally. We had a local IT partner who was getting the blue screen of death when their USB to VGA displayport adapter was plugged in to their Asus Vivobook S400CA laptop computer running windows 8. If we unplugged the USB displayport adapter, no bluescreens.