Keeping data and systems safe, accessible and fully backed-up.

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Cyber Security: Complex solutions made Simple

We use a number of methods and vendors to help completely secure our customers data. Backups for ransomware protection, password managers for credentials, multi-factor authentication, anti-spoof & anti-phishing protection, RADIUS authentication and device audit and management. Read more about how we help organisations.

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Cyber-fraud or future currency? All about Bitcoin.

The crypto-currency, Bitcoin, has risen to fame in recent years, and become especially prevalent due to the recent media coverage linked to the WannaCry ransomware attack. Bitcoins have the advantage of anonymity for criminals and cyber-fraud, but could this currency become a mainstream method of payment in the future?

What is a crypto-currency?

For those that are unfamiliar with bitcoins, and other forms of crypto-currency, they are simply a form of digital currency. This currency is underpinned by a technology called blockchain, and can be traded from one person’s ‘wallet’ to another. These bitcoins possess value, and can be traded as if they were any other type of currency. Once the bitcoin software has been downloaded, an individual is connected to other bitcoin users over the internet, and a set of unique keys are generated that enable the transfer of bitcoins to other users. One key is kept private and the other is public, but it is almost impossible to work out an individual’s private key is from their public key. These keys can then be used to transfer bitcoins between users.

History of Bitcoin and cyber-fraud

First created in 2009, Bitcoins became famous between 2011 and 2013 when traders rapidly inflated their value through purchasing millions of dollars of Bitcoins. This allowed these criminal traders to be able to move money outside the control and watch of law enforcers. Bitcoins offer criminals the dual advantages of having a decentralized currency that can be traded without a middle man, combined with the additional advantage of high anonymity. Perfect for executing cyber-fraud. The value of bitcoins has risen so rapidly that in March 2017 the value actually surpassed that of an ounce of gold.

The use of bitcoins is seen as controversial for a number of reasons. The major issue with this currency is that it operates outside the control of the central bank and government. This means that tracking the movement of this currency becomes more complicated. This has made bitcoins an attractive option for the illegal market and for cyber-fraud.

Bitcoins are also changing the way in which personal wealth is stored and managed. The control of personal wealth has been restored to the individual through this crypto-currency, removing the power formerly held by banks. However, unlike traditional transactions, bitcoin transfers are final and wealth is subject to no form of insurance, making this a risky method of storing wealth.

Are crypto-currencies the future?

Despite its affiliations with the illegal economy, and the association with cyber-fraud, major banks and companies across the world are in talks to adopt digital currencies such as Bitcoins. Already Bitcoins can be used to purchase certain items including Dell laptops and vouchers to be used at major shops. A recent survey completed by Cambridge University estimates that over 6 million people across the world possess a bitcoin ‘wallet’. This suggests that there is a possibility of mass adoption of this currency.

Although the greatest level of attention is given to bitcoins use in the shadow economy, the greatest use is actually in the legal economy. Many believe that the technology blockchain underpinning bitcoin transactions could be used for other things. One suggested use is for the government to be able to track international aid money, for tracking the origins of raw materials in supply chains and for online voting.

In addition, if people lose trust in traditional currencies crypto-currencies may increase in importance. Governments are able to print money in order to finance government debt, which essentially works as an inflation tax. The use of Bitcoins prevents this from happening as there is a mathematical limit on the amount of Bitcoins that can be created. The future of Bitcoins is uncertain but many are excited about the potential this technology has to revolutionise markets.

For those that are interested in cyber-fraud, there are additional blog posts you can read on the subjects of cyber-security and cyber-fraud.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Ransomware Backup Protection | 2 of 2

Part One | Part Two

Ransomware Backup Protection: There is nothing quite like an incident infecting hundreds of thousands of computers globally to bring a problem into rather sharp focus. Ransomware has been with us for many years. We’ve seen a number of customer cases that prove it’s possible to survive these attacks. Without having to pay. in 2017 there have been two major ransomware attacks, WannaCry and NotPetya. As the ransomware threat continues, it’s imperative to understand how you can protect your business against ransomware. Having a strategy is a really good start.

Get a Ransomware Backup Protection Strategy

A ransomware protection strategy requires at least three elements, education, patching, and backup.

  • Educate: Education of your users and your Administrators is essential to protect your business from ransomware. It’s critical that your staff and stakeholders understand what ransomware is and the significant threat it poses. Provide your teams with examples of suspicious emails. Empower them with clear instructions on what to do if they encounter a potential ransomware lure. For example, don’t open attachments, if you see something, say something about it. Conduct quarterly formal training to inform staff about the risk of ransomware and other cyber security threats.
  • Patch: Antivirus software is essential for any business to protect against ransomware and other cyber risks. Ensure your security software, and all critical software elements, such as operating systems,  are up to date. Keep all business applications patched and updated to minimise vulnerabilities.
  • Backup: Snapshot-based incremental backups, as frequently as every five minutes, to create a series of recovery points are a feature of modern total data protection solutions. If you suffer a ransomware attack, this allows you to roll-back your data to a point-in-time before the attack. The benefit of this is two-fold. First, you don’t need to pay the ransom to get your data back. Second, since you are restoring to a point-in-time before your systems were infected, you can be certain everything is clean and the malware can not be triggered again.

Ransomware Backup Protection for Business Continuity

Survival requires preparation before an attack. Data protection technology, and ransomware backup protection best practices, are critical for mitigating the damage that ransomware attacks can inflict the Business Continuity of organisations. The possibility of getting ‘hit’ by ransomware are really rather high. And it’s not getting any better. It’s obvious backup is one line of defence against ransomware.

Most Government organisations recommend backing up frequently as a way to beat ransomware. The UK National Cyber Security Centre recommends you verify the integrity of backups and secure the backups. Ransomware backup protection is best when they are maintained offline from the production environments, because the ransomware viruses can corrupt backup copies, as well. Snapshots and replication can be vulnerable to time-delayed ransomware attacks.

The National Cyber Security Centre has recently updated it’s advice regarding backup in NCSC: Basking up your Data. It is reasonable guidance, which hopefully the NCSC will expand upon in the future. In broad terms:

  • Identify what data you need to back up
  • Keep your backup separate
  • Consider the cloud
  • Read our cloud security guidance
  • Make backing-up part of your everyday business

Ransomware Backup Protection with the Cloud

Data protection vendors, such as Datto, have been adding features that will protect against ransomware. Storage vendors are also providing reporting tools that can help protect against ransomware by alerting users of anomalies occurring within files. The use of pattern detection on data and files alert administrators of unusual encryption levels, so they can intervene and limit the damage.

Serviceteam IT  use a number or vendors and solutions in order to protect customer data, not only for the last line of defence against ransomware, but also to provide seamless Business Continuity. Our primary solution recommendation for small businesses is the Datto ALTO. Datto ALTO is the only continuity solution designed specifically for small business. Using image-based backup, and a hybrid cloud model, ALTO delivers enterprise-grade functionality at a small business price. The ALTO easily protects any physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure running on Windows, Mac or Linux. Spin up lost servers in seconds without the need for additional tools.

Backup automatically on schedule to a local device, and replicate backups to the Datto Cloud. Recover granular data quickly from multiple points in time, and use Datto Cloud virtualisation to get back to business in minutes. Get more than just one server back up and running; virtualize your entire Infrastructure with the click of a few buttons. Be back up and running as fast as the images can boot in Datto’s Cloud. Once the crisis is past, ALTO makes it easy to get back to normal operations. Say goodbye to business down time, and hello to fast and easy business continuity all in one product.

In 2016, Datto released the first ransomware backup detection in the industry, as part of its Total Data Protection solution. Ransomware, like most illicit software, leaves an identifiable footprint as it takes over a server, PC or laptop. Datto devices actively monitor backups, and when a ransomware footprint is detected, it notifies admins that they have a likely ransomware attack on their hands. From there, recovery is simply a matter of restoring from a previous backup. Stop worrying about ransomware and get back to business fast with Datto Ransomware Backup Protection.

To learn more about what you can to do avoid losing your data, check out our brochure: Business Continuity.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Ransomware Backup Protection | 1 of 2

Part One | Part Two

Given the breach at the UK Governments leader in all things cyber security, the National Cyber Security Centre, perhaps now is a good time to discuss cyber security again, especially ransomware backup protection? As a little background the NCSC was opened to much fanfare by Her Majesty the Queen, and is headed up by chief executive Ciaran Martin, Director-General Cyber at GCHQ. The centre was announced by then chancellor, George Osborne, with £1.9 billion being made available for tackling cyber crime by 2020. Interestingly, the budget indicated an undisclosed amount to launch cyber attacks against terrorists and other countries.

To sum up, they have the right people, they have plenty of money, they have the full backing of government and industry. So why exactly do they not have a clue? The deliverables of the Cyber Security Essentials are, in my opinion, woefully inadequate, with the assumption of an organisations IT being in the 20th Century and not the 21st Century. By way of a simple example, their infographic regarding Password Guidance is nothing short of laughable. Such as, “Only use passwords where they are needed?” Passwords are a minimum requirement for every single element of an organisational network. No ifs or buts, which I said in Password, encryption and good Practice in 2015. I can’t stress enough the importance of Multi-Factor Authentication alongside passwords.

Why use Ransomware Backup Protection?

Using the recent WannaCry Ransomware incident as an example of how ransomware backup protection should be used, in October 2016 the NCSC published the guidance Protecting your organisation from ransomware. In the original guidance they recommended:

“Backups should be considered a last resort only, as the adoption of good security practices will mean not getting ransomware in the first place.”

Where I agree wholeheartedly with good practice to begin with, ransomware backup protection must form part of that. In mid-December they received feedback that “this line could be misinterpreted by a busy reader as”

“the NCSC does not advocate keeping backups”

Which therefore precipitated clarification, almost a month later! Backing up a bit, proving the Technical Director for Assurance has a sense of humour at least, although falling short of recommending ransomware backup protection:

Just to be clear: the NCSC recommend organisations use backups as a way to help mitigate against a wide range of potentially catastrophic problems, such as fire, theft, flooding, and – naturally – ransomware. Our intention with this paragraph was to note that whilst a backup can help minimise the harm that a ransomware incident causes to an organisation (assuming the backup is current, and is not able to be compromised itself by the ransomware), backups shouldn’t be seen as the primary defence against ransomware. Backups are a last resort, rather than a primary protection. It’s better to design and operate your systems in such a way as to minimise the chances of ransomware gaining a foothold, and to use backups as a mitigation should this occur.

Right then. Ransomware backup protection is good, according to the NCSC. In part two I’ll dicuss what to backup, and how to backup, whilst still wondering that perhaps the undisclosed element of the £1.9 billion was the greater proportion of the pot. And constantly looking over my shoulder, as I’m probably on a list, because of Britain’s nuclear submarines at risk of same cyber attack that crippled the NHS say experts on 21st May. The 36 page follow-up report, released by BASIC last week, HACKING UK TRIDENT: A Growing Threat makes really interesting reading.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!