I just need to get this off my chest – so bear with me.
First off, I’ve been doing sysadmin work for scores of years now, and the idea of backups, business continuity, and “bad guys” isn’t new. However, this week it was brought to a new and interesting head for one small business.
Rewind the clock two years and we were in the conversation with this business about where they host their “golden nuggets” of their business, what servers did what, where were the users, how did the backups fare, state of malware, web filtering protection, etc. You know, all the “normal” stuff any qualified IT provider would ask a prospective customer. “We’re fine” was the answer – they had an in-house IT guru watching all that stuff. However, they did make a (wise) decision to host their ERP solution with us.
Last week, our monitoring went suspiciously quiet, it looked like the company went on vacation, or they had fallen asleep at the keyboard. I reached out to the company, and was informed that they had been the victim of the latest ransomware attack, and all their documents were encrypted and unusable. Thankfully, since they were hosting their ERP system with us, that was safe from the attack. All their ERP data was secure but everything else they controlled was locked. Backups proved unreliable or inaccessible, so the ransom was paid. The company got lucky and the recovery key worked and they got their documents back. What they didn’t get back was Active Directory. Ouch! Nobody could login, even though their documents were back on a server, nobody could access them.
A week later, a new domain, and new profiles on everyone’s desktop, new shares, new permissions, and they were back up and running. After everything, the company is back to doing business, but it could have been a much worse situation. A critical note: the ERP system was never at risk and no ERP data was lost since that was safely stored elsewhere.
Moral of the story:
- Test your backups. Not just documents, but the whole server. How long does it take to get it back? It should not be more than a few hours.
- Just because you can restore files doesn’t mean you can go out, buy a new server and restore your existing workload onto a new server.
- If you can’t live without it, and you don’t have the in-house expertise to manage it – outsource it! Let the pros handle the critical IT while you do what you do best: making essential product and making your business grow.
Contact Us to learn whether Hosting is right for your company.
Learn more about EstesGroup’s EstesCloud Hosted ERP here…
We’ve all done it, at least once. Some of us maybe more than a couple of times, and I know there’s few that are repeat offenders. You know what I’m talking about – the bane of the security admin’s existence – default passwords.
Those are the usernames and passwords that come with every device. Even in this day and age, most systems don’t REQUIRE you to change the credentials that get you system admin rights. The bad guys know that and use it to their advantage.
When most of our business and personal systems are protected with just a name and a basic password (and maybe a trusted network range?), that’s pretty easy pickings for someone with a brute force tool or a sniffer to find out your secrets. And once the bad guys have your credentials, then what? Well after that is when the real dangers begin.
When’s the last time you changed your voicemail PIN from 0000? Perhaps your home router is still admin/password even though the FBI issued a warning for everyone to change it? And how many ERP users keep system admin “manager” around with the default password of… you guessed it. And those accounts open the door wide to anyone wanting to get in; good and bad.
If you have systems exposed to the bad guys (and we all do!) then this post is for you. STOP IT! Even if you told me “Well, none of those systems are internet exposed”, I’d ask “where are the bad actors in your network?”. If you said “outside the firewall”, I’d respond with something like “I dare you to create a share/folder called “payroll” and see how long some curious netizen (aka employee) fell into that folder looking for something juicy.
Imagine splaying your entire infrastructure wide open to someone who just happened to know that Netgear uses admin/password for all their routers? Or that your company name is NOT a good password?
So what’s a concerned system admin gonna do? It’s easy in theory and hard in practice. Here are some digital security tips that will create a stronger password security strategy:
1. Change the default username and change the default password.
2. Start using stronger passwords, not [email protected] We recommend pass phrases, or a sentence that you can remember but the bag guys will have a hard time guessing.
3. Enable account lockout so that if “x” bad passwords are guessed in a row, the account is locked FOREVER (not reset after 10 minutes, thank you Microsoft). Helpdesk notification of such a lockout will put you in the know.
4. Remove admin credentials from being used on untrusted networks. Yes, your users are untrusted! Create a management VLAN, or a specific set of IP’s that can RDP, or shutdown the access from outside devices altogether.
5. Enable multi-factor authentication. This can easily be enabled in Office 365 and Active Directory, and if your devices leverage that directory then they automatically get that 2FA protection as well.
6. Hack yourself! Run a network scanner, or hire an outsourced IT firm to investigate for you, find the unsecured devices and fix them before the bad guys do.
7. Let us help you! We can run an ethical scan IT Assessment Detective scan of your systems, attempt to break into your systems, and give you a full reporting of your IT weaknesses. As “they say” knowledge is power.
So, don’t let your next phone call to the EstesGroup be “help me, I got hacked!” And let our managed IT services company help you run your business better with a strong password security strategy – before the bad guys teach you a lesson.
Interested in Outsourcing your IT? Or have a question on data security? Ask us, we would love to chat.
As you might have heard, or possibly experienced, ransomware is a particularly nasty form of malware that holds your files hostage. In fact, DC webcams were hacked by ransomware before the inauguration! In the past, the ransom was usually just under $2,000 and, if you paid it, you probably got your files back. Those days are passing quickly.
Lately, one of the biggest dangers of ransomware is that they’ve figured if you’ve paid once, you’ll probably pay again, so paying actually sets you up to get hit again! “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…” In fact, we recommend against paying the ransom at all!. If infected, you can contact the FBI and while they won’t get your files back, they will open a case. I suggest you have a strategy for ransomware prevention implemented BEFORE you get hit.
To add injury to insult, when you do come up with the Bitcoin to pay (no, they don’t take American Express), there’s a possibility that you WON’T get your files back! The unlock key simply doesn’t work, and the bad guys no longer are interested in you at all. They got what they wanted,they might even ask for MORE money! Another danger of ransomware is that ewer variants will also start randomly deleting files until you pay up! Ouch!
Paying $600-$1,800 might not seem like a lot, but I am preparing for the day when the hackers don’t just demand money to return your files, they’ll start demanding MORE money to stop deleting your files, or worse yet, sell your files to your competitors! Can you afford a $20,000 ransom or risk your confidential data appearing in your competitors inbox?
Do you have a rock-solid backup policy? Have you been hit with ransomware and don’t want to fall prey again? Contact us today and let’s talk about ransomware prevention. EstesCloud has the vaccine for ransomware!
Click here to schedule a meeting to let us help you make your technology a no-brainer!