Calgary may seem like a world away from Ukraine and all that is happening there. However, the largest Ukrainian population outside Ukraine lives in Canada, with roughly 345,000 Ukrainians residing in Alberta (CTV News). They are our friends and neighbours. But the threat from Russia extends beyond Ukraine, as there is credible evidence that cyberattacks are likely – on infrastructure, financial systems, and communications. We urge our clients and all Canadian organizations to take the following measures in anticipation of potential increased threats:
Update Your Disaster Recovery Plan
Review your disaster recovery plan and ensure that you have isolated, offsite backups of your critical information. DRaaS is a fundamental way to protect your organization and mitigate any damage that may result from a successful cyberattack.
Communicate with your employees. Remind them about the risks of clicking on links or open attachments in emails without first verifying the sender. They must never trust an email, even if it seems to come from a reliable source. Make sure employees on your network (including remote employees) have the most sophisticated firewall, malware, and antivirus software possible installed and running on their systems.
Work Closely with Your MSP
If you are concerned about threats to your business, contact your MSP to discuss your current services and to examine your vulnerabilities. If you do not yet work with an MSP, contact The ITeam for an assessment.
This is also an important time to analyze your supply chain and make sure that you are prepared for any potential disruptions. Ensure that your vendors are taking cybersecurity as seriously as you are.
Finally, if you’re not using multifactor authentication and password management for network access, implement them both immediately.
At The ITeam, we’re remaining vigilant. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re concerned about the security of your IT infrastructure.
Personally, we’d like to extend our thoughts to the people of Ukraine, both there and here in Canada. We stand with you.
Thanks to shows like The Walking Dead, we’re all prepared for a zombie apocalypse. We know how to fight off zombies, avoid getting bitten, and when to run. But what happens when the apocalypse is much more likely to happen and zombies have already been welcomed into your organization? This scenario is far too real for many businesses: Windows 7 will soon be the zombie in your office that will infect everything.
Windows 7 End of Life (EOL) Is Less than 6 Months Away
Effective January 14, 2020, Windows 7 will no longer be supported by Microsoft. The OS will continue to launch and run, but users will no longer receive updates or support. After the EOL date, systems still running Windows 7 will be considered unprotected, and as such, will be subject to higher security risks. It is important that all current users of Windows 7 migrate to Windows 10 prior to this date so that they can continue to receive regular security updates to help protect their devices from malicious attacks. It’s already past the time when organizations should be taking steps to update to Windows 10. In fact, Windows 7 lost mainstream support from Microsoft in 2015 and it’s basically been on life support since then. Now they’re pulling the plug altogether, and any organization still relying on the platform will encounter operational difficulties as well as enormous security risks. There will be no more security patches issued and no more support extensions available.
Make the Move to Windows 10 Now
While Windows 10 did present some challenges for early adopters, those challenges have, for the most part, been resolved. It is a much more intuitive version of Windows, offering better collaboration tools, stronger security, and more efficiency, no matter the size of your business. But the key thing to remember is that Windows 10 is still supported by Microsoft, which means you will receive security updates and layers of protection that you will lose with Windows 7.
In 2017 the WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, costing companies millions – if not billions – of dollars. WannaCry was able to spread because the hackers took advantage of vulnerabilities in unsupported versions of Windows to access networks. It literally spread like a wildfire around the world. To avoid a similar situation with Windows 7, it is vital that you get in touch with your Managed Services Provider (MSP) today and schedule time to set up a plan to move your network to Windows 10.
Windows 7 Upgrade FAQs
There are many questions about the Windows 10 upgrade process, and we’re here to answer them and assist in the process. In the meantime, here a few quick FAQs to cover a few of the questions asked most often:
Q: What about Windows 8? Isn’t that a less expensive option?
We often talk about the need for organizations to be proactive instead of reactive in order to be more secure and make the best use of their IT investments. Moving to Windows 8 leaves you in a reactive and vulnerable state, because end of support for Windows 8 has already been announced. The few dollars you might save today will be spent making another shift far too soon. We strongly advise you to go ahead and make the move to Windows 10 now.
Q: Can I upgrade my existing PC to Windows 10?
A: Yes, you can upgrade compatible Windows 7 PCs (based on certain requirements with a full license – ask your CITM if you are unsure if your hardware is eligible for this upgrade). To take advantage of the latest hardware capabilities, we recommend moving to a new PC with Windows 10.
Q: What happens if I continue to use Windows 7?
A: You can continue to use Windows 7, but once support ends, your PC will become more vulnerable to security risks. Windows will operate but you will stop receiving security and feature updates.
Q: Can Windows 7 still be activated after January 14, 2020?
A: To avoid security risks and viruses, Microsoft recommends that you consider upgrading to Windows 10 well in advance of the end of life (EOL) date for Windows 7. Once the EOL date arrives, you will not be able to install any new Windows 7 instances or receive patches, old or new, for existing systems.
Act Now to Protect Your Organization from Windows 7 Security Risks
If you are a current Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 user and you don’t already have an upgrade plan in place, please talk to your Client IT Manager or Account Manager to discuss the transition so that there is no lapse in your security coverage. Here at The ITeam, we understand that replacing hardware and software can be a daunting task, so if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to reach out to your ITeam Account or Client IT Manager to discuss your options. We are here to help make this as seamless and budget friendly as possible! Get in touch today.
Can your system be infected with the same ransomware twice?
If your IT department does not make the appropriate corrections to your cybersecurity infrastructure following a cyber-attack, leaving your infrastructure essentially vulnerable with the same weaknesses, a hacker will be more than happy to reinfect your systems.
However, performing the appropriate updates and installing the necessary patches does not always secure you against the same ransomware either.
Hackers are using more advanced technology every day, leaving organizations susceptible to new methods of attack.
Defensive approaches aren’t enough
Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to play defence against the tactics that hackers are now using.
One infection could easily lead to another if you prove to be an easy target.
Your main concern should be your overall strength against any attack, rather than concern over the same ransomware breaching your defences twice.
For organizations that utilize constant cybersecurity monitoring and other preventative approaches to their security strategy, their systems are less likely to be infected by the same ransomware or other malware a second time.
But many organizations spend too much time repairing holes made by malicious attempts to access data, rather than reinforcing the entire IT infrastructure.
Cybercriminals are using a classic bait-and-switch
Although the ransomware used is technically not the same, cybercriminals are discovering that they can double their luck by attacking twice in the same email distribution.
Hackers distributing phishing emails will load one set of emails with one ransomware, and another set of emails with different ransomware.
This tricks the organization into thinking they have already set up defences against one strain, only to be taken advantage of hours or days later by yet another strain.
Any ransom paid to retrieve stolen information must be paid again to the very same hackers who had previously demanded payment.
Ransomware is always evolving
The answer to whether your systems can be infected twice by the same ransomware depends more upon your level of cybersecurity than the efficiency of hackers.
New distribution methods are proving successful against organizations of every size and taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity – playing offence and anticipating attacks – is the only way to truly protect your data.
First steps involve educating all employees on what a phishing email looks like, as well as establishing constant monitoring systems that can alert you in advance of breaches.
If you think your systems have been compromised by ransomware, the first step is to immediately mitigate the damages. The next step is to conduct a complete analysis of your systems and implement a proactive action to prevent future breaches and to protect your sensitive data. Hackers will stop at nothing to profit from your data; you should stop at nothing to protect it.
The ITeam understands the cybersecurity issues facing Canada businesses. We are committed to helping Calgary- and Alberta-based businesses develop proactive, cost-effective IT strategies that minimize risk and maximize efficiency. Contact us to learn more.
Call centers are often on the frontline for an organization’s consumer base; therefore, protecting customer data is a crucial task that requires preventing call center fraud.
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