What to Do If You’re a Ransomware Victim

You’ll know if you’re a victim of ransomware. Often you’re met with a red screen telling you your business files are encrypted. You won’t be able to do anything on the computer, although the cybercriminals will provide helpful instructions for how to pay up. How nice. Here’s what to do instead if you’re the victim of a ransomware attack.

Cybersecurity Ventures predicts ransomware will impact businesses every 11 seconds in 2021. Yes, you read that right. That’s up from every 14 seconds in 2019. Another research company reported ransomware increasing 485% year-over-year in 2020.

Know that it’s widely considered a bad idea to pay the ransom, because you’re rewarding the cybercriminal. Plus, you can’t even be sure that they will provide the encryption key needed to regain the use of your files. What! You were going to trust the bad guys?

The Important First Step

The first thing you’ll want to do is make it all go away. Yet wishful thinking is not going to get the job done. Instead, you’re going to have to turn immediately to your disaster response plan, because, of course, you have one of those already. Really, don't underestimate the value of planning in advance for IT infrastructure compromise. Doing it proactively means calm, considered decisions rather than reacting in a crisis.

Step one is going to be identifying the systems involved and isolating them. Once you detect a compromise, limit the spread of infection by disconnecting the devices affected. Ideally, you take only a few computers offline or disconnect an individual network. Even in a large-scale compromise, remove all affected devices from the network to contain the malware.

As part of the isolation, don’t forget to disconnect any connected devices such as storage drives. The ransomware infection will even seek out USB thumb drives.

Power down only the affected devices if you are unable to disconnect them from the network. Why? Because turning them off means you might lose potential evidence.

Malicious actors may be monitoring your business communications. So, move offline to coordinate your response. Phone calls or text messaging will work, or personal email accounts.

Don’t attempt to restore critical systems until you have identified and isolated. After that, your business can move into triage mode. Prioritize what to restore, and recover using your data backup (again, of course, you have one of those, too). Consider how critical each system is for health and safety and revenue generation. Then, get to work restoring systems in an efficient, organized fashion.

Minimizing Ransomware Risk

Ransomware is a major threat to every business sector, and you don’t want to become the next victim. Common best practices include:

  • preventing an attack with anti-virus and anti-malware tools;
  • installing email filters to keep phishing emails from reaching your employees;
  • making frequent backups and keeping them separate from your network;
  • keeping up with ransomware and other cybersecurity threats.

Businesses that partner with a managed services provider have someone supporting their efforts to cut ransomware risk. Plus, if the worst happens, the MSP’s IT experts are at the ready to identify and isolate. They can find the samples needed, determine the malware strain you are dealing with, and report the attack.

Your data backup should have recent copies of all information up to (or close to) the time of infection. So, once the MSP has removed all ransomware, they will wipe your systems and storage devices. They can swiftly reformat the hard disks and reinstall everything from scratch.

An MSP can help you plan ahead to contain the damage from a cyberattack. Let our IT experts install best practices, set up safe backups, and track activity on your network. Contact us today at 276-296-1155.


Weighing Software-as-a-Service and Managed Service Providers

There are many acronyms in the IT world. Two common ones are SaaS and MSP, which stand for software-as-a-service and managed service provider, respectively. The bigger question is what the differences are between these two and why you would need one or the other. Here’s help.

What’s SaaS?

Your business may already be relying on SaaS. Some of the more widely used platforms include:

·       Microsoft 365

·       Salesforce

·       HubSpot

·       MailChimp

·       Shopify

·       SurveyMonkey

·       Canva

·       Slack

SaaS companies are booming. Businesses are relying more and more on these technologies, and SaaS spending has grown 50% in two years. Why?

Software as a Service provides customers with convenience. The companies develop, manage, and update a product to support teams such as marketing, sales, or customer service. The SaaS platform will promise greater efficiency, improved productivity, increased transparency, and more. These tools automate and streamline processes to drive revenue.

Customers typically pay for a cloud-based subscription fee. In return, they get lower-cost services, reduced time to implementation, and scalability.

What’s an MSP?

Managed services supports software, as well as your

 networking and hardware infrastructure. The MSP has human experts to install software, upgrade hardware, patch systems, and track security. The MSP provides all-around support for the business’s technology. This third-party firm gets to know you to help keep your business competitive.

The MSP tackles all sorts of tasks behind the scenes for your business. When your business outsources its IT to an MSP, you gain efficiencies and expertise. You are not giving up control but adding a partner to focus on time-consuming, complicated, and repetitive tasks. Meanwhile, your people can concentrate on driving innovation and generating revenue.

Businesses reap many rewards from working with an MSP. These experts can often find cost savings. Most MSPs charge a predictable monthly fee that’s easy to budget around. The enhanced expertise can also help ensure security and compliance. The MSP will also have the know-how to recommend the tools your business can enjoy most.

It doesn’t have to be either-or

Understand that you don’t have to choose between SaaS and an MSP – the two work well together.

MSPs can help you deploy and get the most out of your SaaS. In fact, an MSP can make sure your SaaS solutions work well together. They can help identify features on one platform that you’re not using. This could lead to you dropping an underutilized subscription to another SaaS.

Going on your own with SaaS means relying on each company’s IT support or asking your own in-house IT people to get to know the ins and outs of many different platforms. When you have an MSP, you pay that single provider for help instead of having to spend on tech support for each SaaS. Also, if you have a security issue, the MSP will alert you and act to cut the damage and repair the problem. The SaaS manufacturer doesn’t have the same responsibility.

Before you even get SaaS, the MSP can help guide your purchase. Your business may think it needs Slack because everyone else seems to be using it. But if you already have Teams, that could be unnecessary. The MSP learns about your business and how you work to help determine what SaaS's are right for you.

The latest-and-greatest SaaS will come and go. Your MSP can remain the same as your business changes and evolves. Providing continuity of service, they will keep an eye out for the new SaaS you can adopt. The SaaS company wants to grow its customer base and evolve its platform, and the MSP’s job is to help your business succeed, with or without SaaS.

Contact us at 276-296-1155 or www.otsantechnicalservice.net today to enjoy the many benefits of working with an MSP.


What to do When Your Warranty Runs Out

Most technology you buy in stores comes with a warranty of some sort. It might be included or an add-on. Still, it is unlikely to last the lifetime of the device or software, and it seems inevitable that your desktop will die immediately after the warranty runs out. Don’t worry, you still have options.

Murphy’s Law of warranty says that you will have no problems with your computer or printer while it’s covered. Then, as if waiting for the most inconvenient time to go bust, the technology fails just after your warranty ends.

After the frustration of looking up that warranty plan to see the expiration date a few weeks ago, your first response might be to take that device back to the store. You’ve noticed they have a service desk, and that’s where you made the purchase. But the technicians on-site are likely to send your laptop to the manufacturer repair. That could be far away, which negates the convenience of taking it down to your local store. You could wait weeks for your item to get to the repair center. Then, it stills needs attention and returning to your store.

Also know that many manufacturers charge a premium for outside-of-warranty repairs. Now that you’re one or two years into a relationship with the products, they hope you’ll decide upgrading is easier. They actually have a planned lifecycle for computer hardware and plan the warranty end accordingly.

Of course, if you are within days of your warranty's end, ask if the manufacturer will continue to cover the technology. Sometimes it actually will. The manufacturer may also use this opportunity to sell you an extended warranty.

Some help with manufacturer warranty

Our first piece of advice? Be proactive about technology issues. Don’t put off getting something looked at. You may discover you could have saved money by having it checked out under warranty.

Check your eligibility by visiting the manufacturer’s website and typing in the product serial number to check the warranty. Quickly find the page by searching the manufacturer’s name and “check warranty status.”

It’s a good idea to keep track of when your warranty is set to expire. That way, you’ll be more likely to request service in a timely manner. Don’t believe us? Have you ever planned to take an item back to the store only to leave it until the return window has closed?

Small business computer repair shops specialize in repairing out-of-warranty devices. They can run diagnostic tests to determine the problem. Then, they'll help you decide whether it’s worth the cost of repairs. If so, they can fix it at a competitive rate.

Plus, you get personalized service. There’s also the peace of mind that comes from knowing where your computer is at all times. You're not worrying about it shipping around the country to a manufacturer’s repair shop. The timeline reduces, too, as the IT experts are on-site at a convenient computer repair outfit.

We can help keep your computers and other technological devices up and running. Contact us today at 276-296-1155!