Cybersecurity systems are getting better at identifying and preventing attacks coming from all directions. At the same time, hackers are coming up with new ways to bypass these systems. While online scams are the most common ways to do this, cybercriminals have discovered a new attack method using Microsoft Office.

What’s the new Office threat?
The Office exploit takes advantage of Microsoft’s Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE), a protocol that sends messages and data between applications. For example, DDE can be used to automatically update a table in a Word document with data collected in an Excel spreadsheet.

The problem with this is hackers can create DDE-enabled documents that link to malicious sources rather than to other Office apps. Theoretically, this allows hackers to launch scripts that download Trojan viruses from the internet and execute it before the user is even aware of the attack.
And unlike most malware-embedded Office files, which are usually blocked by security protocols from Microsoft, DDE exploits are instant. Once a compromised Word file is opened, it automatically executes the hack.

Outlook at risk
What’s even more alarming are the DDE vulnerabilities in Outlook. Recent reports found that hackers can embed malicious code in the body of an email or calendar invite, allowing them to perform phishing scams without a file attachment.

Fortunately, Outlook DDE attacks are not as automated as Word or Excel DDE attacks. Two dialog boxes will usually appear when you open the email asking if you want to update a document with data from linked files and start a specific application. Simply clicking ‘No’ on either of these boxes will stop the attack from executing.

Defending against DDE attacks
Beyond saying no, you can protect yourself by following these security best practices:
• Evaluate the authenticity of unsolicited emails before interacting with them and don’t open attachments from unfamiliar contacts.
• View emails in plain text format to completely stop DDE attacks embedded directly in emails from running. Note that this will also disable all original formatting, colors, images, and buttons.
• Use a strong email security system that prevents phishing emails, spam, and other unwanted messages from reaching your inbox.
• Get in the habit of checking for Microsoft updates, as they’re usually quick to release patches after vulnerabilities have been discovered.

Last but not least, consider working with our team. We’re Microsoft Office experts who can keep you safe from the latest threats. Call us today to get started!
Published with Considerations from TechAdvisory SOURCE

Long before ransomware and large-scale hacks became everyday problems, viruses were crawling into our desktops and infecting our screens. Somewhere in the world, there’s a cynical coder with an ax to grind or bills to pay who can’t wait to ruin your day.

These days, smartphones and tablets are just as vulnerable as regular computers, and malware is often used to subvert your private accounts. Your phone is a gateway to a lot of personal data, and malware is often designed to break into your email, online banking, and apps.

Getting lazy now could wreak havoc on your smartphone or tablet, plus all the networks it’s connected to. The more time the malware has, the more it will try to manipulate your apps and data as well as steal from you.

Be proactive.There are simple steps to make sure your smartphone is safe from hackers.

The most dangerous situation is when your device is infected, and you don’t even realize it. Malware doesn’t announce itself. It works as secretly as possible so that you’ll overlook the damage it’s causing.

One commonly held belief is that Apple phones and tablets never get malware. But the devices are not impervious to infections and scammers.

Symptoms of an infected device

• Data usage: The first sign that your phone has a virus is the rapid depletion of its data. That’s because the virus is trying to run a lot of background tasks and communicate with the internet. If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, this could also cost you money. You may have to buy extra data to keep up with all that wasted processing. Essentially, you’ re paying to let malware ruin your device and run havoc on it.

• Crashing apps: There you are, playing Angry Birds on your phone, and it suddenly crashes. That’s strange. It never used to happen. After the game crashes a few more times, you start to suspect fowl-er, foul play. Most viruses tamper with your regular operations, and it’s common for your favorite apps crash without explanation. Make sure you update all of your apps to prevent viral interference.

• Pop-ups: Many websites have pop-up ads. But if you start seeing pop-ups all the time, especially for products or services that seem suspicious, you may want to check for a virus. Whatever you do, don’t click on the links. Virus-based pop-ups are almost always designed to make your device even sicker.

• Unexplained charges: Ads and crashing apps are annoying. Mysterious billing will hit you where it hurts, your bank account. It’s particularly common among Android users, who find unusual charges in the “SMS” category. Their gadgets are infected with malware and sends messages to premium-rate numbers.

• Unwanted apps: True to its name, Trojans download apps may look legitimate. They’re designed in the same style as real apps to avoid detection. If you see an app that looks familiar, but you don’t remember downloading it, check and see whether it’s authentic. If it looks fishy, delete it.

• Battery drain: All of these digital shenanigans take a lot of energy. Not only does your phone use up more data, but the battery runs out faster as well. Like actual viruses, malware can leave the body of your device completely exhausted.

The symptoms for Apple and Android devices are pretty similar, but the treatments can be very different for each. These include removing questionable apps under settings.

Take your viruses seriously, because they definitely mean you harm, and they won’t go away on their own. How else can you maintain your security in the wild world of cyber-crime?

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

 

Published with consideration from USA Today SOURCE

These days most people are familiar with what Cryptolocker and Ransomware are. Either your business has been affected, you have a friend who has a friend who’s has fallen victim or maybe heard about it on the nightly news. Ransomware is a particular malware advanced enough to limit users from accessing their information unless a ransom amount is paid.

The number of professionals and small businesses being targeted by ransomware is increasing.

As we all know information and the ability to access it is the foundation of any business. The only way to protect this information is to execute an effective backup solution in your IT environment and make sure you’re ready for any possible threat.

In the event of a disaster your backup solution is only as good as its restoration capability. In situations where hardware fails or becomes infected, a little preparation can go a long way. A lot of businesses spend a lot of time and resources picking and investing in a backup solution but often times forget one vital step: regular testing of their backup’s restorability as part of their disaster recovery plan.

If there is a problem with a backup that hasn’t been tested, often you won’t know until it’s too late. A lot of ransomware will try to encrypt data on a network, as well as on removable drives. To make sure your business stays safe, it’s important to make sure at least one copy of your backups are safe in your local environment.

There is an effective has a strategy called the “3-2-1” rule. This rule states that your business should have 3 copies of your data, stored in 2 different types of media with 1 backup kept off site. Also, ensuring all files in a backup are readable and making sure backups are intact physically all goes into testing your backups and making sure they’re able to be restored when you need them.

Ideally backups should be tested after any change is made. If a new backup is created, test it. If a new machine or server is added, test it. It can be time consuming and seemingly impossible for some organizations depending on the size of the backup. If you can’t check backups after every change, be sure you are checking them regularly.

Standard practice is to replicate a full restore at least quarterly. By not testing applications and files you’re making the assumption that not only have you correctly selected everything that will be required to recover from a failure, and that everything backed up properly, but also that it will restore perfectly at the times when you need it most.

To learn more about these ransomware threats and how you can protect your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from Arianna Carter.  SOURCE

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