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    The Federal Trade Commission Alerts Customers to New Scam

    April 10, 2018 by Kayla Elliott in Newsletter,tips

    Federal Trade Commission Issues Scam Warning

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning customers not to fall for the latest scam hackers are attempting to execute.  According to KWQC News, scam artists are calling customers, claiming to be from the FTC.  The hackers claim to be issuing major refunds.  But there is a catch.  First, you must allow them access to your computer.  Why would they need that?  To scam you. If the FTC is offering a legitimate refund, they want to be sure customers understand two things.  First, they will never need access to your computer to process the refund.  Also, they will never charge you for your refund. Unfortunately, many people are naive to these scams, and often fall victim.  If you receive a call claiming to be from the FTC, and they request remote access to your computer, hang up immediately.  Also, if you suspect it is a scammer, do not use any words or phrases expressing agreement, such as "I accept", "Yes", "Yea, that's fine", etc.  At times, scammers will record the calls, then use the recordings to claim authorization for various transactions. It's a scary world out there -- stay safe!

    IBM Reports Ransomware is the World's Largest Threat

    IBM Security Announces Breaches Drop, While Ransomware Skyrockets

    On Monday, IBM Security announced results from its 2018 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index which found the number of records breached dropped nearly 25%, while ransomware continues to skyrocket.  Ransomware, malicious software that encrypts files or entire networks, demands a ransom payment to decrypt the files.  Unfortunately, half of the time ransom demands are paid, the hackers still do not decrypt the data, leaving the businesses facing a financial loss and a lost data. A few years ago, when cyber criminals began a significant uptake in the use of ransomware, ransom demands were being met.  As the threat continued, victims slowly began not paying.  This is obviously not what the hackers wanted.  Now, they're taking things one step further.  Not only are hackers encrypting files, but they're beginning to steal personal identifiable information and confidential data.  They then threaten the victims to leak the data or sell it on the dark web if they do not pay. In order to stay protected against ransomware, the US-CERT and New Zealand CERT have encouraged the use of whitelisting.  By using a security solution that includes a whitelist technology, unknown and often malicious threats, will not be able to execute.  NZ-CERT goes one step further, encouraging the use of dynamic whitelisting, which increases the efficiency of the whitelist technology. PC Matic employs a patent pending, globally automated whitelist technology.  This means that users are not responsible for establishing their own whitelist.  Instead the maintenance and unknown file testing is done completely by the PC Matic team. Win the war against ransomware with PC Matic. Have a business?  We have that covered too.  Click here to get a quote, demo, or trial for PC Matic Pro.

    Microsoft Scrambles to Patch Windows Defender Vulnerability

    Microsoft Security Programs Compromised Due to Security Gap

    New reports confirmed Microsoft's security programs, including Windows Defender, are suffering from a major security vulnerability.  The security gap found is within the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine (MMPE), and if it goes unpatched, will allow hackers to do significant damage.  In order for the vulnerability to be exploited, hackers must do the following:
    • Identify a computer that has the vulnerability.
    • Get the user to download a special file on this device.  This may be done through instant messaging portals, email, injecting a JavaScript into a website, etc.
    • Once the user downloads the file, the hacker install malware, delete files, steal data within the system, etc.
    So, this isn't exactly a one trick pony.  There are a few hoops the hackers would need to jump through to get to their end goal.  However, it's not impossible. Hoops or not, the severity of the problem escalated significantly due to the role the MMPE plays within each Microsoft security program.  This particular malware engine is responsible for the scanning, detection, and cleaning component within several Microsoft anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, including:
    • Windows Defender
    • Microsoft Security Essentials
    • Microsoft Endpoint Protection
    • Windows Intune Endpoint Protection
    • Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection

    Getting the Update

    Microsoft has claimed the users of these programs do not need to do anything.  They have issued a patch for the security gap, which should automatically be applied.  Windows systems with the engine version 1.1.14700.5 or later are protected from the vulnerability.  If you would like, you may consumer versions may be verified by following the instructions below:
    • Windows 10: Type "Settings" into the search bar at the bottom of your screen.  Go to Update & Security, then select Windows Defender.
    • Windows 8: Tap on the Windows key to open the Start Menu. Type Windows Defender and select the result. Select "Help", then click the "About" in the program window.
    • Windows 7: Open the Start Menu with a click. Type Windows Defender and load the result. Select "Help", then click "About".
    If you are running a later version, you are encouraged to update.  All Windows Defender updates take place through your Windows Update feature.  Therefore, if you have those disabled, the updates have likely not taken place.  In order to manually update, you will want to tap the Windows key on your keyboard, then type "Windows Update" and click the "Enter" key.  From there you click on the "Check for Updates" button.  If updates are needed, follow the prompts.

    **All users who are running a third-party security solution and have Windows Defender disabled are NOT impacted by this vulnerability.

    Michigan Lawmakers Pass Ransomware Bill

    Michigan Cracks Down on Cyber Crime

    Lawmakers have addressed the ransomware threat in the past, by making it illegal to execute the form of malware on devices.  However, they've recently taken it a step further.  In Michigan, it is now illegal to be in possession of a ransomware variant.  This means, even if it has not been used to infect a device, simply possessing the malicious coding will result in felony charges. This sounds great -- but how effective will it be?  First, hackers are criminals, do they don't exactly care if a new law has been established increasing their punishment.  Secondly, cyber criminals often take various steps to cover their digital footprint.  Therefore, the likelihood of catching these criminals diminishes significantly.  Lastly, cyber attacks are, more often than not, originated overseas.  So, will the state extradite the criminal to Michigan to face charges -- probably not. This new law sounds great, but will it work?  We would love to hear what you think!  Drop a comment below.

    Baltimore's 911 Systems Down After Ransomware Infected Systems

    Ransomware Takes Baltimore's Emergency Systems Offline

    On March 28, 2018 Baltimore city officials confirmed the city's emergency systems had been infected with an unknown ransomware variant.  The infection was found on Sunday, March 25th, which led the IT department to taking systems offline.  For approximately 17 hours, Baltimore's electronic emergency systems were unavailable.  Therefore, employees were forced to push the city's 911 systems into a manual mode. At this time, systems are back online and the FBI is investigating the origin of the ransomware attack.

    Other Ransomware Attacks

    For a list of ransomware attacks that have already taken place in 2018, you may click here. We have also created a map, see below, of the ransomware attacks that have taken place in the U.S.

    One of the Largest Independent Antivirus Testing Organizations, AV-Test, Certifies PC Matic 3.0 

    PC Matic Earns Second Consecutive AV-Test Certification

    PC Matic first tested with AV-Test in the fall of 2017, and earned its first AV-Test certification at that time.  In January and February of 2018, AV-Test conducted another round of testing in their Home Windows test category.  The testing resulted in AV-Test awarding PC Matic 3.0 with another AV-Test Certification after achieving high marks across their protection and performance testing. PC Matic's Super Shield was able to block 100% of the real-world ransomware/zero-day threats used in the test set, further demonstrating that taking an approach that centers around prevention instead of remediation continues to show its importance. Ransomware infections not only require a ransom paid to recovery encrypted files, but recovery efforts and time lost for the business often cost far more. In addition, PC Matic out scored other tested security solutions in performance measures.  According to the industry averages, PC Matic was over two-times more efficient than alternative programs.  Due to this level of efficiency, PC Matic had a lower impact on the computer's speed during daily usage. In the usability category AV-Test penalized our score for returning a small number of false positives. The false positive test used by AV-Test is extremely robust, with over 1.5 million known good samples. After being tested against those samples, our highest number blocked was 41. This comes down to .004% false positive rate or 99.996% good file accuracy. The number of false positives our users see in the real world is often even lower and further shows that our patent pending globally automated whitelist is a truly innovative approach. If you'd like to check out the test results for yourself, head on over to AV-Test  

    PC Pitstop has no ad agency. Here's why...

    March 28, 2018 by chengrob in Newsletter,The Pit Blog

    The History of PC Pitstop's Decision

    On a frigid and snowy day in North Sioux City, South Dakota, I began my career at Gateway 2000 as its first director of marketing. I brushed off the snow, removed my jacket and entered the office of Ted Waitt, Gateway's pony-tailed founder, CEO, and my new boss. "Robby, come here and check out our new ad for PC Magazine", Ted motioned. He proceeded to explain every detail of the layout, colors, copy, and photos, and how they told a complex story of a unique computer company from South Dakota. On that blustery day, I observed the sheer velocity of how ideas moved from Ted Waitt's brain straight to millions of computer enthusiasts in the space of a week. I was watching a thing of business beauty. I learned my lessons. Sweat the details. People wonder where I get it from. Get your message to market as fast as possible.
    Mike Hammond, Gateway cofounder, Tom Grueskin, Sales Supvervisor, and Rob Cheng Director of Marketing during the Robin Hood shoot.
    I worked on many of Gateway's great ads including the well-received Robin Hood ad, which combined the launch of industry leading product configurations, a down-to-earth revolutionary ad production, and a massive media buy. Perhaps due to our South Dakota location, Gateway was a do-it-yourself type of company. We wrote the conceived the ads. We produced the ads. Our employees were the talent in the ads. We bought the media. Underneath the advertising was that Gateway can-do spirit. We can accomplish anything. And a computer brand was born. Five years later, to add fuel to the rocket ship, we made the jump to TV advertising, the first computer company to do so. A national audience awaited. It was a risky move for sure and like always we sweated the details. South Dakota was the first image in the ad campaigns. Our employees including our VP of production became the stars of the TV ad. The ads were the opposite of slick, and they worked. We put South Dakota on the map.

    The Shift

    In January 1998, a massive reorganization hit Gateway like a computer virus. I had a new boss, and he brought in an ad agency, in fact, one of the largest in the world, McCann Erickson. Weeks and weeks of meetings ensued where we tried the best we could to transfer the information in our heads to those of McCann. A month later, McCann executives returned to South Dakota to deliver their prognosis. After about an hour of marketing-speak and Powerpoint slides, the verdict was pronounced, "You need to change your tagline." Long before my arrival at Gateway, Ted Waitt and Mike Hammond founded the company with a simple notion, "You Got a Friend in the Business." Like everything else about the company it was simple and direct. After all, friends don't gouge friends on price. Friends don't ignore friends when they have problems. At the end, you trust your friends. For us, it wasn't marketing speak, it's how we ran the business. I was not alone in objecting to putting our tagline on the chopping block. We debated for another hour, and the McCann execs deflected, "If you need a friend, get a dog."
    Gateway ad circa 1996 pre McCann.
    Gateway's brand was a reflection of who we were. Critics called it hokey, but it was genuine and sincere. McCann attempted to create a brand based on their perceptions of what the market wanted, independent of the company and its roots.

    Why PC Pitstop Doesn't Use an Ad Agency

    With the memories of Gateway still fresh in my mind, PC Pitstop endeavors to create a new brand based on who we are and what we plan to achieve. Our ads are not slick, nor will they ever be. We write our own scripts. We produce our own ads.  Our employees are in the ads.  We buy our own media. Like Gateway, PC Pitstop is a company full of remarkably talented people, and one way we express that is our televsion ads. The other way is through our products. We are building an incredible team of software developers with the skills and responsiblity to improve our products and the customer experience almost as quickly as we pump out new advertisements. If you don't like one of our TV ads, just wait. For sure, there is another one in the pipe and maybe you will like that one more. For those of you that want PC Pitstop to get an ad agency, that's not going to happen.  Now you know why.

    DOJ Moves to Dismiss Kaspersky's Lawsuit Against Congress

    Kaspersky's Lawsuit May Be Tossed Out...

    This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion to dismiss Kaspersky's lawsuit against Congress over the ban of their products.  The Hill reports,
    "...Kaspersky does not have a legal basis to challenge the Trump administration’s ban on its products because, even if reversed, Congress’s ban would remain in effect."
    Kaspersky has made claims the U.S. government acted unlawfully by banning their products on government devices.  The Russian-based security software vendor believes the U.S. Congress did not provide proper evidence of wrongdoing, nor did they complete proper testing of their products. Although, Kaspersky's claims are likely irrelevant because Congress is not required to "test" anything prior to legislating.  The Department of Justice believes the lawsuit can be dismissed, as the Department of Homeland Security's decision for the Kaspersky ban was deemed a matter of national security. At this time, Kaspersky security products are banned from government devices.  In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has also issued a warning, urging business agencies cease the use of the security program as well. As the story progresses, we will do our best to keep you all informed.
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