What You Need to Know about CryptoWall 4.0

It has a new name.

help_your_files ransomware. Threat watchers discovered the resurgence of CryptoWall after receiving and examining multiple complaints from concerned users who hadn’t heard of the strain of ransomware. It literally snuck up on them.

The attack vector is still email.

CryptoWall 3.0 relied heavily on naive end users opening unfamiliar attachments in unfamiliar emails. The logic is like accepting an invite to free candy in a dark alleyway from a stranger. CryptoWall 4.0 is not different in this regard.

While hacking schemes are more sophisticated and targeted in today’s IT field, it really feels that an attacker could put in an email “DON’T CLICK THIS LINK BECAUSE I’LL DELETE ALL YOUR FILES AND PICTURES AND STEAL YOUR MONEY” in bold, large, red letters, and some end users will still click it (hold my beer and watch this).

CryptoWall 4.o builds on the social engineering aspect of attacks, and will continue to use email as the main transmission source. Bleeping Computer discovered the infected files were disguised as resumes enclosed in zipped email attachments. In reality, they were JavaScript files that downloaded the virus, and ran it. People, end users, have not learned, and will not learn unless we teach them to not take candy from strangers. A good way to teach end users to not open these emails: If you weren’t expecting it, don’t open it. Your companies, or worse your clients, revenue stream could be at risk.

It has upped the game to encrypt file names too!

Previous CrptoWall left the file names so you can see the files there, and salivate at getting them back, so you’d send money. This didn’t work to the hackers benefit in 3.0; you could pick and choose which files to attempt to de-crypt, since attempting all of them would take lots more time and money. Now, you won’t know which files you are locked out of, the file names will just appear randomly.

Cybercrime & Security Overviews: Terms, Trends, Statistics, and Takeaways

Worst part yet, paying the ransom doesn’t always help. The more money hackers make, the more incentivized they become. Plus, there is no guarantee they will comply with sending you the decryption key for your files. CryptoWall has already extorted $325 million from victims internationally, and not all have ended happily.


CryptoWall 4.0 behaves like previous versions.

This is probably the only good news a new CryptoWall comes to bear. Because it is transmitted, behaves, and communicates the same way 1.0, 2.0, & 3.0, it is predictable. While this is good news, it won’t stop it. The weak link here is the end user, but we can utilize tools like Spam Filtering, Antivirus and Content Filtering to give the user warning (like a police car and crime scene tap in front of the alley) and opportunity to stop the infection. We also know that a good online backup, like Carbonite, provides us with a fail safe to fall back on in the event of the worst.

Lets stop it.

Our first step in stopping any virus outbreak is user education. Just like it is important to teach children how to wash their hands to kill germs, it is important to teach users to think before they open emails or websites, especially ones they are not expecting. A lot of serious infections occur when the timing of a malicious email is just right, you were expecting a resume and the virus arrives disguised as a resume. It is important to pay attention to what you are opening and where you are going on the web today. Blind clicking is like driving too fast, you may get there quicker, but eventually it will catch up with you. In any event, we cannot depend on user intuition alone, we must use business-class protection, and we need it fast:

Office 365 spam filtering is one of the best, utilizing a combination of content analytics (reading the email for spam-like word and phrase combinations: You’ve won a million dollars! Just send us your social security number and claim your prize!) and malware scanning to protect users from getting malicious emails in the first place.

We can help with your move to Office 365!

AVG and St. Aubin Technologies have partnered together to offer AVG CloudCare to our clients! AVG CloudCare is an inclusive, centrally managed, Antivirus & Content Filter solution to protect your end users and business. AVG CloudCare provides top notch real-time protection to workstations and servers, scanning files and links before they are opened, stopping malicious programs from even entering your business network, along with generating email alerts about impending issues. Since CryptoWall utilizes a JavaScript file to download a virus installer via HTTP, the real-time virus scanner would stop the JavaScript program from even running, the Content Filter would stop the installer from even downloading, all you’ll get instant notification it stopped a user from creating a IT catastrophe on your network. Pretty sweet!

AVG and St. Aubin's Partnership with CloudCare

St. Aubin Technologies and Carbonite Online Backup have a long standing relationship, saving many of our clients gigabytes of data from being lost forever, which could have resulted in thousands, if not millions, of dollars in lost time and revenue. The effects of these saves continues on, even months after data is recovered. Carbonite is a major component in our recommended Business Disaster Recovery plans (BDR), providing protection when the absolute worst happens. We’ve always compared virus protection on workstations and servers to airbags in a car crash; if a user hits something hard enough, or mashes the gas pedal because they are in a hurry, the airbag can only do so much. Carbonite Backup is the ultimate protection for your files in the event of an infection.

Carbonite Backup can save you too!

By utilizing the full suite of data protection, Office 365 with enterprise-spam filtering, AVG CloudCare w/ Antivirus and Content Filtering, and Carbonite Online Backup, we can give our business networks a fighting chance in the ongoing war against evil computer viruses!

10-21-15 Back to the Future Day

BTTFIIdateThis date in future history, Marty McFly (played by Michael J Fox) returned to the future. In Back to the Future II, Dr. Emmett Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd) persuades’ Marty and his girlfriend, Jennifer Parker (Lea Thompson) to go help their children in the future. But that’s besides the point, the talk of the day is how much BTTFII got right in predicting the future in 2015, whilst stuck in 1989.

  1. Video Games: At some point, Marty is mocked for his ability to play video games…that require touch. While most of our video games today still require “touch”, many games available on xBox Kinnect, PlayStation Move, and the Wii do not require you to touch almost anything. Still up and coming tech, hand motions and facial expressions are the cornerstone of a new security movement, debuting in Windows 10.
  2. The Hollywood Sequel Obsession: Yup, Jaws 19 might have been correct. Hollywood has been making sequels, and move reboots, like crazy recently, so this satire showcase in BTTFII was not necessarily completely off. Lets just hope we don’t see a Jaws 19.
  3. Automation: Drones are shown walking a dog in the film, and taking care of a few other tasks. We don’t have fully automated dog walkers, trash cans, or waiters yet, and this might not be a bad thing, but we do have semi-autonomous flying drones, robots that build things, and computer technology that automates a lot more of our daily lives than you realize.
  4. Biometrics: Used to open the door of the McFly home, biometrics has taken off in recent years. We now can unlock computers, safes, cars, and yes, our home doors with a finger print or optical scan. New technology is being developed to improve facial recognition, so we may not have to touch to gain access in the near future. Maybe that will improve the line at park entry turnstiles for Walt Disney World theme parks. Inside joke, moving on!
  5. Self-Lacing Shoes: Nike patented this. We haven’t seen a working pair yet, and they aren’t on sale either. But they patented it, so that makes it reality, right?
  6. Glasses: Virtual Reality glasses have been around for a while, but they were big and bulky. Augmented Reality is relatively new, and is making head lines. In the VR world, Oculus Rift is making motions, and has sold quite a few units in the US. For AR, Microsoft HoloLens and Google Glasses are prime examples of how far we’ve come. Although, wearing your Google BTTF-VideoGlasses on a night on the town might not be the best fashion statement.
  7. TV Calls: May be not as tacky as the movie predicts, but video conference calls are a thing. There are many conference room systems that will handle video and sound, and many more conference room systems that will tackle screen sharing on your computer. Skype for Business is an example, with the capability for chat, audio calls, video calls, and presentations. Heck, we can even flash writing on the screen stating “You’re Fired” just for kicks.

What ever your cause for celebration of today’s technology, sometimes its best to leave some alone. BTTFII, meant to mock the future with some ridiculous and exaggerated ideas, happens to be right about quite a few things and could stand as a warning. But at the same time, all these neat things are right at our fingertips. My how far have we come.

Disclaimer: Mike was not alive in 1985, where this movie’s original time was staged. He was, however, alive in 1989, the release date of this movie, and is also a technology professional in 2015, and is well versed in  so he his qualified to talk about such topics.

Microsoft Windows 10 Devices Event

Microsoft has recently been making headlines with its successful launch of Windows 10, and its increasing sales and market share in tablets with Microsoft Surface. Today they held their October Windows 10 Devices Event, and they are making headlines again. Here it all is in a nutshell:

Windows10Pro_FOB_Boxshot_RGBWindows 10 has been posting some impressive stats. In only 10 weeks, Windows 10 is now powering 110 million+ devices, has been used to stream 120 years worth of game play from xBox Ones, and has asked Cortana (Microsoft’s version of Siri) 1 billion questions.

What’s so impressive with Windows 10? It fulfills Microsoft’s dream of a cohesive operating system; 1 OS to run all its devices. Windows 10 is on PC’s, laptops, tablets, phones, and xBox. They are calling this the universal experience. Need to be productive on the go? Plug you Windows Phone into a monitor and get a full desktop PC. Wow.

Next up, HoloLens. HoloLens is geared directly at the gamer in the family, immersing the player in a screen of pixels, and brings experiences into your real world. Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition will ship in Q1 of 2016.

This item caught our attention, Microsoft Band. Similar to the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band is promised to make your Windows experience more personal. Microsoft Band, the first device powered by Microsoft Health, helps you achieve your wellness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality. It also helps you be more productive with email previews and calendar alerts – right on your wrist. They’ve revamped from the previous Microsoft Band, the wrist band is breathable, the glass is curved, and it fits more around your wrist than on it.

Now its time for the nuts and bolts of the devices event. Surface Pro 4, that latest “tablet that can replace your laptop.” Its a little bigger, and a lot faster. Surface Pro 4 has a G5 chipset, designed bySurface Pro Demo Microsoft. They won’t tell us details, but its 50% faster than a Macbook Air, and 30% faster than its predecessor Surface Pro 3. The screen is 12.3″ across, but the tablets footprint is no bigger, they’ve increase the screen size by reducing the bezel size. It can house up to 1TB of diskspace and 16GB of memory. Its almost a full millimeter thinner than the previous Surface Pro, and the only reason its not any smaller is the USB port. The touch screen is optimized more, and the pen! 1 year of battery life on a AAA battery, they even added an eraser. The little loops that we all have on our Type Covers, yeah those are replaced too with a magnetic pen storage area on the tablet itself.

A new Surface Pro accessory is the docking station, pumping out 4 USB 3.0 ports, two 4K DisplayPort connectors, and Ethernet. The new Type Cover has spaced keys, new glass touchpad, and fingerprint reader. In case you are getting sour because of all this new technology, Windows 10, Microsoft Band, xBox streaming, the Surface docking station, and the new Type Cover all work with the Surface Pro 3 too!

Sign me up!

Launch Day! – Office 2016

Using Microsoft Office has been like a time warp recently. Stuck using its 90s-era technology, its been eclipsed by online collaboration tools like Google Apps, Slack, and Trello. That ends today.

microsoft-officeIntroducing Office 2016: The new way to work in the modern office.

At first, Office 2016 looks and feels like Office 2013. No dramatic changes to the look and feel. No crazy new layout scheme’s. Just some bolder colors and a search bar. But look closer and the changes become apparent. There’s a share button that now shows almost everywhere you go. You can Skype with coworkers from within Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You can set group conversations in Outlook and work together as a team on documents within OneDrive.

The new theme of Office 2016, Collaboration. No longer is Microsoft scared of placing these little known features to the forefront. Most of these features have been there since Office 2013 and before, but Microsoft did not want to scare off the long-time office user (you know, from the 1990’s, those who still reminisce about free AOL disc’s and color changing text on websites).

We noticed a feature in Outlook 2013 and OneDrive that seemed like a test, Microsoft placing a foot in the water. In Outlook 2013 and the Office 365 OWA, you could attach a file to an email, but not send the file with the email. Instead, it would be uploaded to your OneDrive account and the recipient would then use the link to open/download that file. This feature now has relevance. In Office 2016, that link now opens a window where both users, AT THE SAME TIME, can read, review, comment and edit the same document in real-time.

This might, just might, make Microsoft Office cool again.



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St. Aubin Technologies & Microsoft invite you to join us for the Modern Workplace webcast. Attendees will be among the first to see a live demo of the new Office! Link to recorded demo coming soon.