09 Sep

Fantom: A New Security Threat

The heart of a lady is not easily won; a man can’t rely on his looks or wallet to make a girl fall head over heels. He must charm his way into her heart. Let’s say that a computer user is the woman, and that ransomware, the man, is the dreamboat that has worked his way through all the woman’s defenses. How? He looked the part. This is how ransomware weasels its way into IT — because it doesn’t seem to pose a threat. Beware of Fantom, the most recently detected ransomware that is a master at deception.

 

AVG security researcher Jakub Kroustek recently spotted Fantom coded atop an EDA2, a ransomware-building kit that was open-sourced but eventually taken down. EDA2 contained certain flaws that allowed researchers to obtain decryption keys from its C&C server, yet these flaws have since disappeared, indicating that Fantom coders might have found and fixed them before anyone else had a chance to.

 

Very little is known as to how Fantom is distributed. As for the method of deployment, cybercriminals plant the file onto the target’s computer via spam email or exploit kits. Fantom-infected files are named criticalupdate01.exe; they utilize a “Windows Security Update” to prompt targets into running the file.

 

After activation, the ransomware starts by locking the user’s screen while displaying fake Windows Update graphics, complete with a fully-functioning percentage-based loading timer that mirrors the original Windows Update screen. However, beneath this pleasant facade, Fantom is encrypting your files right before your eyes. Luckily, the temporary lock screen is removable before it reaches 100% — simply press CTRL+F4. Unfortunately, the encryption process remains intact.

 

The MalwareHunterTeam states, “The ransomware uses classic ransomware encryption by locking files using an AES-128 key and then encrypting this key with a dual RSA key, with the private key stored on the crook’s server, and a public key left on the user’s PC.”

 

In order to retrieve the private key to unlock your files, you must contact the perpetrators by email. The email address is listed in the ransom note that appears after the process of encryption is complete. Fantom displays ransom notes in the form of HTML and TXT files, while changing the user’s desktop with a custom screenshot that lists the contact details. Lastly, after completing all its operations, Fantom cleans after itself by running two batch scripts wiping all the installation files clean.

 

Ransomware isn’t new, but the ways that cybercriminals utilize them are. Who would’ve thought that the ever so familiar Windows Update window has fallen prey to malicious intent? Pretend that you’re the Little Red Riding Hood and that the wolf is the ransomware that cybercriminals have disguised as your grandmother. They no longer wait to trap you, instead, they wait for you to walk straight into one instead.

 

The issue of ransomware is as extensive as it is meticulous. If you have any questions about Fantom or would like to request more information, feel free to get in touch with us! Give us a call or send us an email. Reach us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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02 Sep

Business Projector Buyer’s Guide

Love them or hate them, projectors are the modern day soapbox. They give you the platform to present your case to a wider audience without compromising your content. Like most hardware purchases, however, they’re accompanied by a list of measurements and specifications you likely have little experience with. If you’re in the market for some new projection hardware at your business, take a minute to brush up on the essentials here.

 

Brightness

 

If you haven’t had any hands-on experience with projectors yet, brightness will undoubtedly be the first thing you notice. Although no projector will ever match the brightness of an LED or LCD television, with some informed shopping you can easily mitigate this unfortunate drawback. A ‘lumen’ is a measure of brightness listed under the specifications of any new projector. Anything over 2,000 lumens should be appropriate for small-group presentations in a low-light room. For larger meetings with more ambient light, 3,000 lumens should be able to negate any added burdens. No need to go any higher than that unless you expect to host more than 100 viewers and let a little light into the room.

 

Resolution

 

While brightness may be the first thing you notice, resolution is probably the first thing you think of. Before deciding on a resolution, give some honest consideration to how essential it is for the projector’s intended use. If the plan is to set it up in the conference room for Excel budget presentations, WXGA (or 1280×800) should be plenty clear. This resolution is the most widely compatible with the dimensions of modern laptop screens and will making swapping the content source a piece of cake. However, if you have an existing projector and/or screen, you may want to stick with your existing XGA (or 1024×768) resolution. Of course, there is always the option for the gold standard. Whether it’s an overinflated budget or true necessity, HD (1920×1080) will provide you with the best possible resolution for your projections.

 

Portability

 

Behind their bolted-in conference room companions, portable projectors are some of the most popular for business professionals. In addition to brightness and resolution comparisons, make sure to examine how valuable portability is to you. Increased portability often brings a significant reduction in image quality and may not ultimately be worth it. If you’re forging ahead with a mobile option, some of which are small enough to comfortably fit inside your pocket, make sure whatever you choose has the ability to read data from a USB or SD storage device. There’s no reason to buy a model compact enough to leave the backpack at home unless you’re utilizing all its added bonuses. This means you might have the option to purchase a mini-projector with a battery integrated into the device; just remember that it’s unlikely you’ll have the picture quality or features to truly enjoy video and multimedia presentations.

 

Extra Features

 

What would any piece of hardware be without a few cool extra features? Top of the line projectors have a myriad of specialized add-ons that might be just what you need to make your final decision. We’ve already talked about USB and SD storage, but what about an iPhone or Android dock incorporated directly into the unit? And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, cut the cords entirely with wireless-enabled projectors. Regardless of whether it’s one of these options, or something like internal storage capacity, always thoroughly test any special features before letting them factor into your final choice. There’s nothing worse than basing a decision on a total misnomer.

 

Our customers often forget to utilize one of our most useful service options: hardware consulting. If you’re ever in the market for new equipment at your organization, or need advice on how to get the most of what you currently have, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re an office full of gadget geeks who love the opportunity to talk about the latest and greatest the industry has to offer. Contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net!

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25 Aug

New Features in Office 365

Microsoft’s Office 365 platform isn’t one of the most popular productivity suites in the world by luck. The company’s expertise in creating functional, innovative and easy-to-use business applications has won over thousands of users for decades even before the cloud. And today, Microsoft strives to remain ahead of the competition by rolling out new upgrades every quarter. So what does Office 365’s update have in store for you this quarter? Read on and find out.

 

Word

 

This quarter, Office 365’s upgrade will focus on cloud-powered intelligent services, designed to maximize productivity while saving time. And Office 365’s upgrade wouldn’t be an upgrade if there were nothing new in Word, the business application that put Microsoft on the map. To that end, Word is getting two new features called Researcher and Editor. As you may have guessed, Researcher is designed to help you find reliable sources of information by using Bing’s Knowledge Graph to help search and then cite sources in your Word document. In the future, Researcher’s body of reference materials will also include sources such as national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, and more. The feature will be available on mobile devices too.

Now that you have Researcher to help you start your paper, you can count on Editor to help you finish it. This new feature builds on the existing spellchecker and thesaurus, and in addition to the wavy red line under a misspelled word and wavy blue line under bad grammar, Editor uses a gold line for suggestions on how to improve your writing.

 

PowerPoint

 

Currently, when making a presentation, you’re forced to use the 1-2-3-4 linear method of showing your slides. The problem is that you can’t change your presentation order as needed without having to exit PowerPoint’s slideshow mode, and let’s face it, sometimes you do make mistakes and need to go back or move to a different slide. But thanks to PowerPoint’s new feature, Zoom, you can now present your slides in any order you want at any time without a hiccup.

 

Outlook

 

The time has come for Office 365’s Outlook to get the Focused Inbox which has been available for iOS and Android for some time now. If you’re not familiar with Focused Inbox, the feature separates your inbox into two tabs: Focused tab which includes emails that matter most to you and the “Other” tab for everything else. This makes it easy to identify email that needs your attention so you never miss anything important.

Not only that, but as you move email in or out of the Focused tab, Outlook learns from your behavior and adjusts to your priorities. You can also flag someone by typing the @ symbol in the body of the email and pick whoever you wish to flag. This will automatically highlight that person’s email and their email address will be added to the To: line. If you are mentioned, the @ symbol will show up in Outlook so you can quickly find all email where you are mentioned.

 

For now, Microsoft hasn’t set a release schedule for these new features, but according to Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President for the Office team, you can expect to use them soon enough! And as always, if you would like to find out how you can make the most out of Office 365 or Microsoft Office, contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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14 Jun

Ransomware Adopting Self-Replication

Although some may have hoped that the threat of ransomware was on the decline, the reality is that it’s quite the opposite. Until now, attacks seemed to be targeted directly at its victims, but Microsoft warns that may no longer be true. With their discovery of self-propagating ransomware it’s vital to fully understand the possible risk of infection.

 

Ransomware, the malware that locks up infected systems and demands payment to return access to users, has been steadily increasing its infection rate over the course of this year. Enigma Software reported that, “After staying steady for the last six months of 2015, ransomware detection has begun to climb; February saw a 19 percent increase over January, while March had almost a 10 percent increase over February. Then, in April, infections more than doubled.”

 

And as if that wasn’t frightening enough, Microsoft announced last week that a recently detected ransomware software was found copying itself onto USB and network drives. The ransomware, titled ZCryptor, disguises itself as either an Adobe Flash installer or a Microsoft Office file to trick users into opening it.

 

Once opened, it displays a prompt that says “There is no disk in the drive. Please insert a disk into drive D:”. If you see this after opening a suspicious file, it is most likely ZCryptor trying to distract you while it works in the background to add a registry key that buries itself deep in your system and begins to encrypt your files.

 

Although previous ransomware iterations like Alpha Ransomware had the ability to find and encrypt files on shared network drives, security experts believe this is the first time a ransomware variant has included self-replication via removable drives into its framework.

 

When it was first detected in May, Microsoft found ZCryptor singling out 88 different file types for encryption. However, later on a security expert analyzed the ransomware and found 121 targeted file types — inferring that creators of the malware were continuing to develop its source code.

 

It’s commonplace for ransomware to demand payment to be made in Bitcoins as they’re an almost totally untraceable online currency. ZCryptor is no different, demanding 1.2 Bitcoins (500 USD) unless payment is more than four days after infection — then it increases to five Bitcoins (2,700 USD).

 

Compared to other more complex security threats, ransomware is still relatively easy to avoid. Always verify the source of email attachments and website downloads before opening files, disable macros in Microsoft Office programs, maintain regular backups and update your security software.

 

Still concerned about security at your SMB? It doesn’t have to be as difficult and draining as you may think. Contact us today for advice on keeping your network protected around the clock. Reach us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net

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24 May

The Exciting Features of Android 6.0

Android Marshmallow has been one of the most anticipated software updates for Android users. Dubbed by Google as “the sweetest, smartest Android version yet”, it was first unveiled at the company’s I/O conference under the codename Android M. So what features do you look forward to when your tablet finally updates to Android 6.0 version? Read on.

 

Now on Tap

 

Google’s digital personal assistant is being made more efficient in giving you quick answers and in figuring out what you may want to do next. Now On Tap can be activated by pressing on your tab’s home button, which works for both onscreen and the physical button. A short animation or a card will appear that will give you quick information based on the context of what is currently on your screen. For example, you are chatting with a client regarding a new restaurant, Now on Tap can give you directions to the restaurant, its contact information or Yelp review. This deep-linking technology also includes shortcuts to apps on your tablet and is also applicable to voice searches. It’s designed in a way that it appears when you need it and disappears so you can resume what you were previously doing.

 

Android Pay

 

With the increasing popularity of mobile payment, Google is trying again after the dismal performance of the Google Wallet. The latter is being changed for peer-to-peer payments only, while Google Pay allows you to pay for both in-store and in-app purchases. Google’s newest mobile payment system lets you purchase goods from 700,000 participating stores by using your tab’s NFC technology. Also, checking out in mobile shopping apps is a walk in the park using Android Pay.

 

Doze

 

Don’t you just hate it when after a few hours of taking the tablet off the charger, you’re left with just 2% battery life? With the Doze mode in Android 6.0, it promises to make your tablet last even longer. This new power-saving feature uses a lot less power than the current Standby mode. In Doze mode, your tablet hibernates when you put it down for a lengthy period. That means your tab will not be disturbed by power hogging apps, but will still be receiving incoming messages, phone calls and important alarms.

 

Redesigned App Drawer

 

Marshmallow comes with a new design for the app drawer – that part in your tablet where all your installed apps are located. A search bar at the top makes it even easier to find an app. Google also remembers your app-opening frequency or periods and can make suggestions on what apps you might want to use. Instead of scrolling left and right, the app drawer now scrolls up or down which is reminiscent of older Android versions.

 

Android for Work

 

This may not be a very appealing addition to many but for those who bring their tablet as a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) device at work, this is definitely sexy. Android Marshmallow improves the way it handles security, notifications, VPNs, access and storage. So much so that one device can be used for both home and work purposes.

 

Fingerprint API

 

This update may not be all that apparent, but now your Android tab comes with support for a fingerprint reader. This allows you to unlock your tab and its apps, and also to easily verify payments.

 

App Permissions

 

Now you can have greater control over the security and privacy of your tablet by approving permission requests on a need-to-use basis. Previously, these apps required carte blanche permission to look at parts of your tablet you actually didn’t want them to. With Android Marshmallow, WhatsApp may not ask for permission to access your photos until you try to take and send one. However, keep in mind that some apps may not function optimally if you restrict it to resources that it actually needs.

 

Not sure how to proceed when it comes to app permissions? Having problems in updating your tablet’s software? Or are you finding it difficult to integrate your BYOD device with technology at work? Get in touch with one of our experts to assist with any of your technology issues. Contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net

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06 May

4 Common El Capitan Problems (and How to Fix Them)

No operating system is perfect. At one point or another, every user is likely to experience a frozen computer or application that just won’t cooperate with their commands. El Capitan users are not immune to this phenomenon. So what are some of the problems Mac lovers encounter with Apple’s latest OS? Here are a few of the most common and the solutions to fix them.

 

Application freeze

 

Worse than a brain freeze from a slushy, application freezes on your OS oftentimes last much longer and leave you frustrated watching the pinwheel of death spin on and on. For those once-PC users who’ve made the transition to Mac, your tried and true solution of pressing Control-Alt-Delete unfortunately doesn’t apply here. Instead, you can try these two options when an app freezes.

Press and hold command > option, then hover over the problem-application on the dock, and hold down the left button on your mouse. Now navigate to Force Quit in the box that appears, and release your finger from the mouse.
If you can’t access the dock, then press and hold command > option, then tap the escape key. A menu with the option to Force Quit any app that’s running will appear. Simply select the app you’d like to quit and click Force Quit.

 

Mac is running slow

 

Almost every Mac user’s system starts to run slow at some point in time. While sometimes you can just be patient and the problem will correct itself on its own, other times the slowness becomes a consistent nuisance at which point it’s time to look closer at the issue. Usually the culprit has to do with the memory, which means you should check which applications or processes are using most of it. This is where the Activity Monitor comes in handy.

To find the Activity Monitor click on Finder > Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. Alternatively you can simply search for it with the Spotlight tool.

Once you’ve opened Activity Monitor, click on Memory. To see which applications are eating most of it, make sure the arrow next to Memory is pointed downward. Doing this will display apps in order from highest memory consumers at the top to lowest at the bottom. Now that you can easily see the biggest memory hogs, consider closing these apps.

 

Printing problems

 

No one likes waiting on an unresponsive printer. So if your printer is slow to respond or completely unresponsive, go to System Preferences > Printers & Scanners and select Print. Then press and hold ctrl, click on the problem printer and then Reset printing system. After you’ve done this, restart your Mac and Printer.

 

Slow Spotlight functionality

 

As handy as Spotlight is, some users have experienced a slowdown in the application after updating to El Capitan. One way to resolve this issue is to simply be patient, as usual the app just needs some time to do its job. However, if you’re in a rush or the slowdown is a persistent problem, you can take matters into your own hands. Click System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results, and then narrow down the areas Spotlight searches by unchecking them. For example, if there’s no need for Spotlight to check the thousands of images stored on your hard drive, simply uncheck Images.

 

These four tips should help you resolve some common El Capitan issues that are known to give users headaches. If you’d like to learn more about optimizing your Mac OS or any of your other Apple products, don’t hesitate to get in touch by contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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29 Apr

How to Pick the Best Mouse

The good ol’ two button mouse just won’t cut it anymore. They’re unresponsive, uncomfortable, and the cord somehow ties itself up every time you put it in your bag. However, buying a new mouse can be a pain, especially when you don’t know what to look for. Do you need a mouse that’s more forgiving on your wrists? Are you looking for a tangle-free mouse? If you’re having difficulty deciding on your ideal mouse, here are some things you should keep in mind.

 

Cable or wireless?

 

Choosing between a wired or a wireless mouse is a factor you have to consider if you’re planning on purchasing a new mouse. Wireless mice are generally more comfortable since your range of movement isn’t limited by a cable and they’re usually very travel friendly. However they tend to be less responsive than their wired counterpart, which can be a problem for users requiring more precise mouse control. In some cases, wireless mice can also interfere with other wireless devices nearby. Furthermore, wireless mice require batteries, which can be a drag if you forget to buy some at the store. If you’re planning on using the same mouse for both work and home, you run the risk of losing the tiny USB receiver for your wireless mouse.

On the other hand, wired mice are cheaper and easier to use since you simply plug it in and you’re good to go. The only problem you’ll have to worry about is dealing with tangled wires. So when you’re deciding on a new mouse, think about whether you’re looking for comfort or convenience.

 

Ergonomics matters

 

You’re going to be using the new mouse for a while, so it’s important to choose a mouse that feels comfortable in your hands. When deciding on the right mouse, focus on the size and the grip of the device. The size of the mouse usually comes down to the individual’s hand size. For example, someone with smaller hands might find larger mice quite unwieldy. Certain mice can also accommodate for different types of grips:

•Fingertip grip: With a smaller and flatter body, this mouse allows you to control the entire device with just your fingertips. This type of mouse usually provides you with more precise control of your cursor. However, it doesn’t give any room for your palms to rest on, increasing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Avoid using this grip unless your work requires a lot of photo, video or sound editing.

•Palm grip: Palm grips are the complete opposite of fingertip grip mice. With a bump at the back end for your palms, this type of mouse reduces the stress on your forearm and wrist. This grip sacrifices precision for comfort so people prone to repeated stress injuries (RSI) should definitely opt for this type of grip instead.

•Claw grip: This type of mouse is usually the one people are most accustomed to. Named after the shape your hand makes when you hold this type of mouse, claw grip mice give you the best of both the palm grip and the fingertip grip. Like the palm grip, your palms can rest on the mouse but this type of grip also gives you a bit more control. While the palm grip is still the most ergonomical mouse, the claw grip gives a good balance of both comfort and precision.

 

Do more than right and left clicks

 

Don’t just assume that extra buttons on a mouse would mean that it’s only meant for gamers. Extra buttons add more functionality to your mouse. For instance, you can assign your spare mouse buttons to Copy and Paste so you’ll no longer have to input keyboard shortcuts. Want to switch between open windows quickly? You can assign the Alt + Tab (for Windows) and Command + Tab (for Mac) to those mouse buttons. While this isn’t a requirement when picking a new mouse, it’s definitely a neat feature that will save you some time.

 

DPI (dots per inch)

 

For precise movements, higher sensitivity is a must. Whether you’re editing images, videos, or audio files, you’re going to require more precise mouse movements to execute them well. If you ever had to move your mouse around because your cursor was stuck, then a high sensitivity mouse can solve your problems. Try looking for mice with 1200 DPI or greater for finer control.

 

Mouse specifications could be the last thing on your mind when it comes to buying new hardware. But comfort is important. A good mouse with the right fit, can make you more efficient and reduce the risk of injury. If you need some help setting up the best hardware for your company, give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net. We’re happy to help.

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25 Mar

Office 365 Features You Should Know about

Need help getting some work done? Fortunately, Microsoft constantly releases new Office 365 features that can help you get an edge on the pile of work sitting on your computer. Among some of the new Office 365 features, you can Skype over a document with your coworkers, plot charts into excel with ease, and even sign for a document electronically with any device. So treat yourself, and use these features to increase your productivity in the workplace.

 

Simultaneously edit a document with other people

With Office 365, people can work together on any Word, PowerPoint, or Excel document in real time. This means multiple people can edit a document, figure out what changes have been made and who made them.

So if your employees are still creating documents by themselves, sending them over to their coworkers by email, and silently waiting for a reply, then this Office 365 feature can help cut down on unnecessary email waiting time.

 

Skype over a document with your coworkers

In addition to being able to work together on a single document, you can also verbally discuss the edits over Skype. This application lets you talk to everyone who is working on the document with a simple click of a button. You can also keep talking to your coworkers even after you’ve left the Office document session.

 

Link to files, don’t attach them

Is the file you’re sending too big? With the business editor of Office 365, you won’t have to worry about compressing your documents before sending them over email. You can simply attach the link to the file on your cloud application (Outlook Web App), and people with access to the link can immediately begin editing.

 

Let Bing find presentation images for you

Sometimes you just need that second opinion when you’re picking images for your presentation. That’s where Office Sway comes in. Basically, the application employs Bing image search to locate possible images that you can use for your presentation based on the words you are using.

 

Laser pointer mouse icon

Forgot your laser pointer on the day of your presentation? Simply go into presentation mode and hold Ctrl and the Left-Click mouse button to replace your mouse cursor with a laser pointer.

 

Change your electronic scribbles into text

This OneNote feature allows you to convert your electronic scribbles into text in just a few steps. Simply select the “Lasso Select” tool and circle the area you want edited and choose the “Ink to Text” option.

 

Electronic signatures

Printing out a document to sign it and then scanning it back to digital format is a bit outdated. However, with the Docusign app, you can setup your own electronic signature and sign documents easily from any device.

 

Create excel charts with ease

Office 365 has built in new features that will allow Excel to better present and format your data. Simply select the cells that you would want in a graph or table, open the Quick Analysis tool, and pick however you would like to visually represent your information. Voila! Instant chart.

 

Turn data from Excel into a map

Speaking of visual representation, did you know that you can convert your data into images? Provided that your data takes note of geographic locations, the Power Map feature can immediately distribute your recorded facts and figures over a 3D map.

 

Create and Convert PDF Files

You have a variety of choices when creating PDF files from word documents. Exporting your word documents into PDF files can be done by going to File>Export>Create PDF/XPS. You also have the option of saving just a portion of a file by indicating the pages you want to only be converted into PDF.

On the other hand, if you would like to edit a PDF, just open the file in the word document, where the PDF content will be opened in a new file. From here, you can copy and edit any content, images, or diagrams.

 

Consider utilizing some or all of these features to make the most out of Office 365 and make your life a bit easier. If you’d like to know more about other features that Office 365 has to offer, give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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