Discus Systems PLC - IT Support Company in Birmingham West midlands
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Dec 2018

2018

 

And to let you know... you're covered this Christmas!

 Although, the Helpdesk will be eating mince pies & drinking sherry on...

Tuesday 25th December 2018
Wednesday 26th December 2018

Tuesday 1st January 2019

 

We'd just like to say Merry Christmas and hope you have a great 2019

From all the team at Discus

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 4th Dec 2018

We have experienced yet another scam trying to catch you out!

They’ll state a password in the subject which has been exposed on one of the public websites such as the breaches of… LinkedIn, Adobe, MySpace.

Below is an example of an email I received (which includes a password I used about 5 years ago) to give you some idea of how they normally work. You can check if you have a site breach by checking on  HaveIBeenPwned

It is always good to revisit your passwords.  Just imagine if one of the websites you use daily gets hacked, and that password & username is being used on another site you use! It’s always good to make sure you keep a good spread of passwords and even consider using a password manager like LastPass or 1Pass, Roboform etc.

If you need advise give us a call. 

Example

Hello!

I have very bad news for you.
03/08/2018 - on this day I hacked your OS and got full access to your account damien@discus.co.uk
On this day your account damien@discus.co.uk has password: 50679

So, you can change the password, yes.. But my malware intercepts it every time.

How I made it:
In the software of the router, through which you went online, was a vulnerability.
I just hacked this router and placed my malicious code on it.
When you went online, my trojan was installed on the OS of your device.

After that, I made a full dump of your disk (I have all your address book, history of viewing sites, all files, phone numbers and addresses of all your contacts).

A month ago, I wanted to lock your device and ask for a not big amount of btc to unlock.
But I looked at the sites that you regularly visit, and I was shocked by what I saw!!!
I'm talk you about sites for adults.

I want to say - you are a BIG pervert. Your fantasy is shifted far away from the normal course!

And I got an idea....
I made a screenshot of the adult sites where you have fun (do you understand what it is about, huh?).
After that, I made a screenshot of your joys (using the camera of your device) and glued them together.
Turned out amazing! You are so spectacular!

I'm know that you would not like to show these screenshots to your friends, relatives or colleagues.
I think $826 is a very, very small amount for my silence.
Besides, I have been spying on you for so long, having spent a lot of time!

Pay ONLY in Bitcoins!
My BTC wallet: 1GR7rJfntdcbfhKT1s33RDby4z5ex1ou4Z

You do not know how to use bitcoins?
Enter a query in any search engine: "how to replenish btc wallet".
It's extremely easy

For this payment I give you a little over two days (exactly 55 hours).
As soon as this letter is opened, the timer will work.

After payment, my virus and dirty screenshots with your enjoys will be self-destruct automatically.
If I do not receive from you the specified amount, then your device will be locked, and all your contacts will receive a screenshots with your "enjoys".

I hope you understand your situation.
- Do not try to find and destroy my virus! (All your data, files and screenshots is already uploaded to a remote server)
- Do not try to contact me (you yourself will see that this is impossible, I sent this email from your account)
- Various security services will not help you; formatting a disk or destroying a device will not help, since your data is already on a remote server.

P.S. You are not my single victim. so, I guarantee you that I will not disturb you again after payment!
This is the word of honor hacker

I also ask you to regularly update your antiviruses in the future. This way you will no longer fall into a similar situation.

Do not hold evil! I just do my job.
Good luck.


 

 

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Nov 2018

I was recently asked by a friend of mine “What is ransomware?”

 

I told him -  Ransomware is a type of malicious software which encrypts your data or files, a user at your place has either run a file or clicked a dodgy link which has run a piece of code on your network.

Once it’s been run on a computer it'll connect to every other computer on the network and infect them.

Every PC it discovers it'll encrypt and make it completely useless unless you pay for the guy who wrote the software to unencrypt it - they will require payment via Bit Coin which is an anonymous currency, i.e. it cannot be tracked or traced.  So you'll never find out or be able to prosecute the malicious coder.

The coder does not care about your data, and will not see your data, all they care about is making money by bribing people to give him/her the money to unencrypt it.  

No hacking has taken place either.  It’s not a hack, someone has run a file on your network – accidently, which is so easy to do.  Whilst you can try to prevent it it’s very difficult, and basically you'll rely upon your backups to get your computers back up and running.

You will have to be sure the ransomware has been cleared before turning any PC on.  In fact, all PCs will need to be cleaned and scanned.

You could be in for a long night... I’d be surprised if you’re back up before the weekend!

 

If you need assistance let me know.

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 27th Nov 2018

We have always questioned if Google are within the data protection laws when tracking users’ location.  This article reports on Google being challenged over location tracking.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46356999

 

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jul 2018

Microsoft will end support for Windows 7 in 17 months’ time.

Microsoft have recently announced that Windows 7 is to become ‘end of life’ with effect from 14th January 2020, what this means is that all product updates and more importantly, security updates for Windows 7, will cease from that date.

Without security updates, any vulnerabilities found in the software will be left unpatched and this could in turn lead to anyone using Windows 7 being exposed to potential malicious attack.

This is the Microsoft Statement :

“Microsoft made a commitment to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22, 2009. When this 10-year period ends, Microsoft will discontinue Windows 7 support so that they can focus our investment on supporting newer technologies and great new experiences. The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and automatic updates that help protect your PC will no longer be made available for the product. Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available.”

I would advise you to begin planning your company’s transition to Windows 10 now, well in advance of the 2020 deadline. The sooner you begin these plans the more time you will have to address issues while Windows 7 is still supported.

What do you need to do to prepare?

Upgrading to a new operating system takes time and careful planning, particularly if you have numerous machines and systems to assess. A smooth and successful transition to a new operating system requires you to:

  • Identify machines that need to be upgraded or replaced
  • Identify and consider replacing legacy systems using older operating systems and/or software with updated technology
  • Develop a timeline and budget for upgrades and replacements
  • Implement security controls to separate critical systems from Windows 7 machines that cannot be upgraded or removed
  • Plan for employee training to learn the new system

The Windows Product Life Cycle

All Windows products have a lifecycle, beginning with their release and ending with the end of life announcement.  Previously, these lifecycles terms could last between five to ten years, depending on the product. Normally this would include two maintenance periods: mainstream support and extended support. Mainstream support includes security patches as well as new features and often covers several years. Extended support begins once Microsoft is no longer actively developing the product, shifting instead to the release of updates to keep the product safe.  End of life is the point at which no further support will be extended.

With the introduction of Windows 10, however, Microsoft adopted a new policy for the sustainability and resilience of their products. This model is known as Windows as a Service (WaaS) and incorporates continuous updates and support for current product offerings, like Windows 10.

This is good news for business. From now on businesses using Windows 10 will remain updated with the latest patches and updates. There will be no requirement to upgrade to a new operating system, and there will be no need to be concerned about which one will be the most problematic to use. Windows as a Service (WaaS) will assure a smooth transition between iterations of a single operating system. It’s likely that Windows 10 will look entirely different in the future, but regular updates will take place to the software obviating the need for constant and major upheaval to business systems.

If you’d like help with the above together with more information about Windows 7 and the 2020 deadline please call me us on 0845 4 300 366.

Regards,
Damien

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jul 2018

We've had a lot of phishing email recently reporting to customers that they've been hacked and to hand over their money.

It appears a campaign has been started which is using the data from various hacks around the internet (similar to the below)

Check out: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/07/sextortion-scam-uses-recipients-hacked-passwords/

and you can check which sites passwords have been exposed on at https://haveibeenpwned.com


Check it out!

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jun 2018

Subject: Lucky 13

 

I’m not a massive Apple user, but I do have an Apple Watch.

There’s something about smartwatch tech that appealed to me, and 13 months back, I decided that it was time to give it a try.

The Apple Watch seemed the best fit for me, so I ordered one, and it arrived in the usual, pristine Apple packaging.

 

And for 12 months, it was fantastic.

 

It made buying things easier, thanks to Apple Pay.

It meant I could reply to texts and Whatsapps in seconds.

It allowed me to time my laps when I went swimming.

In the 13th month though, something went wrong. I say, ‘went wrong’.  What I really mean is that the whole thing stopped working.

Disaster.  I only had a 12-month warranty, so I was thinking that my expensive toy was going to cost me a couple of hundred pounds to get sorted.

Nevertheless, I shipped it off to Apple anyway, to see what they said, fearing the worst.

A couple of days later I got an email telling me that a new watch was on its way to me.

No mention of the expired warranty, and no request for extra funds.  Just a new watch that works again.

This is super smart from Apple. 

If they’d played by the rules, I’d have had to pay for a repair, and to be honest, I might not have bothered. 

Given that a repair would have cost the same sort of price as the watch itself, I may have looked for a cheaper model, or gone for a manufacturer that I thought was more durable.

 

Instead, I’m still an Apple customer, still using their Apps, still buying from their App store, and still in their ecosystem.

 

Sometimes it pays to break the rules.

Damien

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 5th Jun 2018

I was doing my daily scroll of the BBC News website the other day, when I happened upon an article that really struck a chord with me.

An American schoolteacher asked her class of seven and eight-year olds to write about an invention that they wish had never been invented.

And nearly 20% of them wrote about the same thing: mobile phones.

The reason?  All those kids felt that their parents spent too much time staring at a mobile screen, and not enough time in the real world, enjoying time with their children.

One child had this to say, “I don’t like the phone because my parents are on their phone every day.  A phone is sometimes a really bad habit”.

As is so often the case, there’s a deeper, wiser point being made by these children – mobile phones have changed our society, and articles like this make us ask the question: has it changed for the good, or the bad?

What do you think?  Do mobile phones stop you from spending quality time with your kids?  Are you ‘present’ when you’re hanging out with them, or does the temptation to scroll overcome you?

P.S. Here’s the original article

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 29th May 2018

Well would you look at that – day one of the new General Data Protection Regulation and BOOM, Google gets its first complaint.

It’s hardly surprising – we all know that Google’s been watching us for years, following us around the web and showing us targeted advertising.

For some people, it’s no big deal, and for others, it feels like a massive invasion of privacy.

Where do you stand on it?

I guess the big issue for lots of us is that Google is so ingrained into the fabric of our lives that it can be really hard to extricate ourselves from it.

I mean, where else would you find the number for your local takeaway?

Maybe you’re uncomfortable with the way Google uses your data, maybe you’re not, but if you fancy giving Google less information about you and your browsing behaviour, it’s worth pointing out that there is an alternative.

DuckDuckGo is ‘the search engine that doesn’t track you’.

They don’t believe that your data should be monetised, which is why they provide a browser plugin that:

  • Blocks advertising trackers
  • Keeps your search history private
  • Allows you to take control of your personal data

Click HERE and give it a go – you never know, you might like it.

Damien

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Thu 10th May 2018

We work with lots of different organisations; from retail outlets to sprawling office blocks.

Oh, and schools – we look after LOTS of schools.

And I was visiting one of them earlier this week, during the heatwave.

IT support doesn’t exactly lend itself to hot weather – getting under desks and hauling cables around can be hard enough work in itself, without having to contend with 20+ degree heat.

But there was a significant saving grace on my latest visit – a lot of the work I needed to do could be done within the server room.

And guess what? The server room has air conditioning!

So whilst the teachers, support staff and kids were sweating buckets, I was – literally – chilling in the server room.

Once I’d emerged and the job was complete, it was clear that I hadn’t been in the clammy, sweaty environment that everyone else had, and it got me thinking: maybe there’s a side business selling time in the server room.

What would you pay for 15 minutes?!  I bet I would have had some takers over the weekend.

In all seriousness, keeping your equipment cool is key to keeping it working, so if you’re not sure how to do that in the heat, hit reply and I’ll give you a few pointers.

Speak soon,

Damien

P.S. Lets hope the heatwave isn’t the only summer we’re getting this year!

 
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