SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.


Ransom + ware = Ransomware (for newbies to the term) is a malicious software which hijacks your computer until a ransom has been paid. A ransomware attack typically denies access to one’s own computer. The mild ones will target useful files and certain applications. Most ransomware attacks are known to demand ransom in the form of cash, but Microsoft reports that there are known cases where attackers request victims to complete surveys to regain We have your dataaccess … bizarre, but nothing will be more irksome than doing everything a cybercriminal requested and still not gaining access to your computer; a phenomenon which should not be unexpected.

This malicious software, commonly used by cyberattackers, has gained momentum over the past year. As elaborated earlier, they are traditionally built to hold operating systems, files and applications hostage, but the cyberspace watchdogs are reporting on their threatening evolution; they are now designed to (in addition to blocking access to one’s computer) steal personal and financial data from victims. Studies on cybersecurity suggest that cybercriminals building ransomware are adding more atrocious features to it. Malwarebytes State of Malware Report 2017 also reveals the possibility of ransomware making modifications to a computer’s Master Boot Record (the part of a computer’s system which manages booting into the operating system).

As cybercriminals are enhancing their malwares, security agencies are also working their fingers to the bone. Europol (European Police Agency), Intel and Kaspersky have already teamed-up to crack down on ransomware. They unveiled an online platform, called No More Ransom, to create awareness and help victims to regain access to their computers, programs and files without paying any ransom. Last year, the master decryption key of TeslaCrypt (a notorious ransomware) was released, rendering it completely useless. But the fact remains that as at November 2016, ransomware accounted for two thirds of all malicious attacks and that can only get worse, looking at how the malware has advanced from 2014 to 2016 (a Kaspersky report showed that ransomware attacks increased from 131,111 to 718,536 within that period). Lucky, referred to as the successor to TeslaCrypt, is continually evolving and menacing.

The United States suffered the most ransomware attacks in 2016 worldwide. To stay protected, back up files and apps regularly, if possible in the cloud as well and update software regularly. It must be acknowledged that very little attention is being paid to antivirus software; a good one represents the first prevention barrier to cyberattacks.

Continue reading

Pa55word: Most Americans fail cyber security best practices, even after being hacked, Pew study finds

by Jillian Stampher on January 26, 2017 at 8:41 am

PI 16.11.09 cybersecurity Featured 630x315

(jmiks/ via Pew Research Center)

Even after being hacked, most Americans fail to properly protect their personal information online, finds a Pew Research Center study published Thursday.

Pew surveyed more than 1,000 American adults last year to determine their perception of cyber security and what measures they take to keep their online information safe. According to the study, most are failing to use best cyber security practices in their personal lives.

PI 01.26.cyber 00 01

(Pew Research Center Graph)

Though 64 percent of the people surveyed had been victim to a cyber attack, just 12 percent have ever used software to manage their passwords. Most (84 percent) still rely on memorizing passwords or writing them down as the main way of keeping their information safe. Pew also found that 41 percent of people have shared their password to at least one online account with another person.

Read More

Continue reading

5 Reasons Employees Quit-Even When They Like Their Job

According to recent evaluation by Department of labor, the average tenure of a U.S. employee is less than two years – a short 18 months!  There are numerous reasons why individuals change jobs. Nowadays, it is rare for someone to get a job and stay with it for the rest of their life. There are many other i quitopen doors and our lives are filled with flexibility and diversity. However, there are many people who leave their jobs to seek an ideal environment — and it isn’t just about the money or the location.

But as for the business holder, losing a great employee is a terrible thing. Finding, onboarding, and training a replacement costs both time and money. Not to mention you don’t know how a new employee will work out. There's the hardship on the rest of your staff until the position can be filled.

So, why did you lose your great employees?

Here are the five top reasons that makes an employee to quit.

Nothing blazes great employees out quite like overworking them. Employesr, and clients expect more work out of these that work hard, which makes them feel as if they are being punished for good performance.
If you want to increase the work of your talented employees, you should increase their status as well. Promotions, title-changes, and raises are all acceptable ways to increase workload.

No career progression
Humans can no longer just do the same thing for the rest of their lives. They want to learn more and progress in their careers. Staff expect to be educated and trained so they can build their experience and skill. If a job provides no opportunity for career progression, chances are workers will leave and seek an ideal environment with better opportunities elsewhere.

People want to be recognized and applauded for a job well done. Recognizing employees, in business, is not simply a nice thing to do but it is an effective way to show your appreciation for their successes and efforts while also strengthening those behaviors and actions that make a difference in your organization.  Lack of appreciation drives people to leave and find another job.

Excessive hierarchy
Every workplace needs an initiative structure, but an inflexible organization makes your employees unhappy. If your best performers know they're expected to deliver without contributing their ideas, don’t feel empowered to help make decisions, are always deferring to others on the premise of their title rather than their expertise, they don't have much to be glad about.
Most of the people who leave their job do so because of the boss, not the organization or work. Ask yourself what you may be doing to keep your best employees.  

Lack of recognition
Even the most selfless people want to be rewarded and appreciated for a work done well. It is the nature of human beings. When you don’t reward or appreciate your good  employees, you're not only failing to motivate them but also missing out on the most effective way to reinforce great performance. Even if you don't have the budget for bonuses or raises, you can provide them recognition by a money-free way-- although, a word of appreciation is free. If people are not noticed, they won’t care.

Hire and Promote the Wrong People
Hard working and good employees want to work with smart professionals. When managers don’t hire good people, it’s a annoying thing for those stuck working alongside them. And if you promote the wrong people, the condition becomes much worse. When you strive to give your best effort only to get a promotion or just an appreciation that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top, it’s a big offense. It makes the good people leave you.

Continue reading

The 1 Habit That Will Change Your Life

Plus the four steps to make your habit work for you.

20150429144418 questions ask when company going nowhere fast man designer computer laptop overworked stressed

Lewis SchiffLewis Schiff
Author, Executive Director The Business Owners Council, co-founder of BEN Global Mentorship

September 28, 2016

It was during a team-building exercise many years ago that I first discovered a talent I had no idea I possessed. The exercise itself was pretty run-of-the-mill -- name one special skill or talent for each person in the room. I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear anything life-changing, but I was taken aback when multiple people told me that I was very good at asking questions.

It was not really something that I had ever considered to be a personal talent. It was, and is, just something that has always come naturally to me -- something that I’ve never really had to think about. And that’s the thing. Your true talent isn’t something that you need to focus on to do it well, and it isn’t something that you will consider remarkable.

Rather, it is something that you should work on honing once you discover it, and it is definitely something that should be incorporated into your career. I’ve spent years working on turning my knack for asking good questions into a career and have helped thousands of other people do the same with their own talents.

Asking good questions and translating the answers to help other people access great insights has become what I call my “language” -- the way that I communicate with the world. One key thing that I’ve found really successful entrepreneurs have in common is that they’ve built their businesses around their own languages. They’ve identified their own innate special talents and have worked to build careers based on their ability to do what they do best. No wonder they wound up so successful!

Once you identify your own talent, you’ll know your own language, and you’ll be one step closer to building a successful career. This is such a basic, foundational insight that I call it “The First Habit.”

Why do I refer to this as a habit instead of an insight? Because knowing your talent isn’t enough. Making your talent work for you is an ongoing process, requiring you to develop it, hone it and build it into a viable career. The obvious applications for your talent probably won’t jump out at you immediately, but don’t get discouraged. It may take a few nights -- or weeks -- of brainstorming to come up with a viable business idea that really takes advantage of your skill.


Read More

Continue reading

Ransomware? Bad news, it's getting worse

Steve Weisman, Special for USA TODAY

635981605803254358 ThinkstockPhotos 492800537I first warned you about the dangers of ransomware in early 2015,   and its increased use was one of my cybersecurity predictions for 2016.

Unfortunately, that prediction has come true, and my motto of, “Things aren’t as bad as you think — they are far worse,” has proven accurate. In fact, the FBI has recently warned that ransomware attacks against hospitals, schools, government agencies, police departments, businesses and individuals are dramatically increasing.

Ransomware is a type of malware that once installed on your computer locks and encrypts files.   The cybercriminals who send it to you then threaten to destroy your files unless you pay a ransom, generally in untraceable bitcoins.

Phishing or its more sophisticated version, "spear phishing," is often used to spread the malware. Emails lure the victim to click on a link, which downloads the ransomware.  Spear phishing targets specific victims by personalizing an email to make it appear especially legitimate.

Cybercriminals can do this by gathering information from various sources including social media accounts.  By putting too much personal information on social media, we often become our own worst enemy.

Ransomware is also spread through malvertising, which is apparently legitimate advertising, and on bona fide websites. But click on it, and you've downloaded the malware.

Yet another way cybercriminals strike is by infecting legitimate websites such that merely going to the site without clicking on anything is sufficient to infect your computer.  A newer version of ransomware called CryptXXX is being spread in this manner and was used to infect the website of American toy maker Maisto.  Fortunately, there is a free decryption tool for this particular type of ransomware, available from Kasperksy Lab.

Often the websites are infected through attacking vulnerabilities that exist in plug-ins such as Adobe Flash.  As long ago as 2010, Steve Jobs complained about this vulnerability.  Despite security patch after security patch, new problems kept coming up with this software.  It would appear that just as companies retire certain programs when it is just too difficult to continue to patch them (as with Windows XP), this may well be the time for Adobe to retire Flash. And if the company doesn’t do this, you should consider retiring it yourself and replacing it with another plug-in that performs the same function.

One of cybercrooks' newer methods is deploying ransomware against smartphones. While this tactic is less common, it is only a matter of time before the myriad of devices that make up the Internet of Things could be subject to such attacks.  Just imagine the dangers of Internet-connected medical devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps being compromised.

Rarely is paying the ransom a good option, although in a controversial statement at a Cyber Security summit in 2015, FBI Assistant Special Agent Joseph Bonavolonta indicated that sometimes the FBI advises victims to pay up.  The FBI, as would be expected, has since backed off of this statement.

New versions of ransomware are constantly being developed by cybercriminals who often — rather than merely using the malware themselves — will sell it on a part of the Internet referred to as the Dark Web, where less technically sophisticated criminals buy and sell malware as well as stolen information, such as credit card numbers.

Cybersecurity predictions for 2016

Some cybercriminals are even taking advantage of the general awareness of ransomware to trick their victims into downloading malware that merely locks their screen while a pop-up message appears telling the victim that they have become a victim of ransomware and that they must pay a ransom or their data will be destroyed although the data has not been locked or encrypted.  Merely restarting the computer can often get rid of the pop-up and end the screen lock of these wanna-be ransomware criminals.

Read More

Continue reading