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Your Worst Computer Nightmare – CryptoLocker

Baltimore PC RepairRansom ware is a variety of malware that, once it infects its host-machine, at least says it’s encrypted the data on or locked its victim’s machine in some other way. The malware then informs the infected user that he or she must pay a ransom in order to unlock their files. Of course, there is never any guarantee whatsoever that paying the ransom will unlock anything. In this case the Cryptolocker really carries out the threat, The virus encrypts files stored on local hard drives and mounted network drives using public-key cryptography, and then displays a message saying that the files will be decrypted by a 2048-bit RSA key pair if a fee is paid through an anonymous payment service by a specified deadline, beyond which decryption is no longer possible.  There is no way to decrypt the key.

US-CERT issued an advisory this week warning businesses and consumers of the risks presented by CryptoLocker, which has been on the radar of security experts since late October. US-CERT said infections are on the rise and urge victims not to pay the ransom, instead report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

How the virus works – What does it steal from you? Who does it Target?

CryptoLocker installs itself to the Documents and Settings folder on your system and then proceeds to search for specific file types like Microsoft Word Docs or Adobe PDFs. It applies an asymmetric encryption which requires both a public and private key to unlock. The public key is stored in the virus itself and is used to encrypt the files. The private key is hosted on the hacker’s server.

We have noticed a high infection rate here in Baltimore County as well as the surrounding metro Baltimore area.  This is serious business for these thugs and for the first time this type of attack is being considered organized crime.

How do I get it?

  • As an email sent to company addresses pretending to be from customer support from FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. The virus is attached to the email, usually labeled as a tracking number.
  • In PDF documents that are attached to emails.
  • Via hacked websites that can exploit computer vulnerabilities to install the infection.
  • Through Trojans that pretend to be programs you need to download in order to watch videos online.

Some versions of CryptoLocker are reportedly capable of affecting not only local files but also files stored in Removable Media such as USB sticks, external hard drives, network file shares and some cloud storage services that are able to sync local folders with online storage. The US-CERT notification also warns that the malware can jump from machine to machine within a network and advises that infected users remove affected machines from their networks immediately.

Can Baltimore PC Repair remove the virus?

computer-maintenance-services-Baltimore-Perry-Hall-PC-RepairThe techs and engineers here at Perry Hall PC Repair have had success with removing the virus but at this point it is impossible to retrieve the encrypted files so honestly the best practice is to wipe the hard drive and start over.

 IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

  • Beware of attachments – Always look at your attachments. If you get an email with an attachment from any sender you don’t personally know don’t open it. If you get an attachment from people you do know, but it isn’t something they would normally send, don’t open it. For all other attachments, try confirming that the file attached is in fact legitimate by asking the sender.
  • Backup your data – Be sure to always backup your data on a regular basis. If you backup files on a daily or even weekly basis and are infected, you can easily wipe your hard drives and start again without losing much in the way of data.
  • Know what to do if infected – If you are infected the first thing you should do is disconnect from the network to limit the chance of the virus spreading to other systems. If you have backed up your system and data, you can probably revert your system. If not, your best plan of attack would be to contact us to see if we can help, as we may be able to get around the encryption or even delete it

Computer Repair in Baltimore Maryland

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Home Users and Data Backup

data backupHome users should also backup to protect against drive failure, theft, and viruses, Data backups aren’t just for companies! There are many inexpensive backup solutions on the market today geared towards home and small business users depending on their needs. Investing in a backup solution can save you hundreds in repair costs and thousands in data recovery charges.

The first questions to ask are:

  1. How much data are you backing up?
  2. Is your computer stationary or mobile?
  3. How sensitive is your data? 

Online Backup services

If you don’t have much data (less than five gigabytes) and your data isn’t sensitive an internet backup service might be right for you. Most services offer monthly or annual contracts ranging from $5/month to $50/yr. After joining they provide you with an application that lets you choose which folders to backup. Most services will monitor for file changes and automatically backup files as needed.

Advantages:

  1. Data is stored offsite protecting you against fire/acts of god
  2. No extra hardware required
  3. Good for specific folders (my documents, email, etc)

Disadvantages:

  1. Slow backups, performing a full backup can take upwards of a day.
  2. Services have surcharges depending on bandwidth usage.
  3. Doesn’t backup the entire hard drive. 

Offline Backup Solutions

Unlike online backup services, offline backup solutions store data on an external hard drive or DVD media. These solutions make an image of your hard drive, meaning you can return the computer to exact state of the last backup, not just restore individual files, this is good if your drive fails or you’re infected with a virus. You can buy an external hard drive for under $200 and the software for between $50 and $99, some software will create a recovery partition so no external drive is necessary. Most programs will create a monthly full backup and daily incremental (what’s changed) backup, full backup’s take about an hour to complete and incremental backup’s take a few minutes. As the drive fills up it will delete the oldest full and incremental backup’s to make room for the new.

For stationary laptops and desktops its best to automatically backup to an external hard drive as it protects against drive failure and data loss. If your computer is mobile you can create a recovery partition on your hard drive for backups however it doesn’t protect against drive failure. If you don’t want to carry an external hard drive it’s best to manually run a backup to an external drive when you have a moment.

Advantages:

  1. Fast, secure backups
  2. Ideal for users with lots of data
  3. Allows for full system restores

Disadvantages:

  1. Backups are stored onsite.
  2. Requires an external hard drive.

 

Computer Repair in Perry Hall Maryland

Looking For Online Back Up – We Use and Recommend Mevvo

perry hall data back upMevvo protects your precious files by keeping a copy safely online. It’s hassle-free, easy-to-install, completely secure – and backs up your entire PC or Mac, no matter how many files you’ve got! Keep your files safe!

Mevvo works quietly in the background to protect your files as you use your computer. You don’t need any technical knowledge, and it backs up all of your files – no matter how many you’ve got. You can restore your files at any time with one click. View your files anywhere.

Once you’ve backed up your files with Mevvo you can view them from anywhere – from any web browser, or from your mobile and tablet. You can view your photos and documents, and even listen to your music and watch your movies, wherever you are. Complete peace of mind.

With Mevvo you can be sure your files are safe and secure. We keep multiple copies of your files, so you can get to them at any time, and we encrypt them with military-grade encryption, so that they’re completely private. If you need help at any time our outstanding support comes free!

We at Perry Hall PC Repair love the ease of us and the affordable pricing for secure online back up. In fact not only is it in use at our shop backing up our business files, We also use it on our home pc’s to back up the kids school work, and other important documents, Pictures and music files!

 

MEVVO2

Backing Up Your Business: Data Where To Begin.

Baltimore Computer Repair ServiceA disaster recovery plan is critical for the health of every small business but, only 25% of the businesses I encounter have a plan in place. Personally, I Feel this is because business owners don’t have a clear idea on what needs to be done; not knowing where to begin, they put off building a disaster recovery plan. A good Plan starts with backing up Business Critical Data.

 So Just What is Business Critical Data?

Business critical data includes information your business could not recover if it were lost. Any small business disaster recovery plan should focus on keeping this irreplaceable data safe. That data might include:

  • Customer information
  • Email correspondence
  • Financial records and information
  • Sales and shipping records
  • Insurance, vendor and employee contact information
  • LAN and WAN Network diagrams and IT vendor service level agreements
  • Telephone service level agreements
  • Drawings or Specification documents
  • HR records
  • Video or audio records
  • Procedures and Policies
  • Quality and product tracking records
  • Inventory records
  • Certificates and Licenses
  • Security information
  • Manuals, books and other products created for and by your business
  • Offsite storage indexes which include what is stored off site, where it’s stored, and when it was update.

Now you have a idea of what Business Critical Data is you can begin putting together your Disaster Recovery Plan.

Connected PC SolutionsLaptop and Computer Repair in Baltimore Maryland

Advantages of Cloud Based (Online) Back Up

Baltimore Cloud Storage

  1. Anytime, Anywhere Access. Having data in the cloud allows your customers to have access to their data anytime and anywhere. As long as there is access to the Internet, through a computer or a smartphone app, all files are readily available. There is no need to have to travel around with a laptop or go back to the office to see that important file.
  2. Simple. Cloud backup solutions have made ongoing management and restoration easy. With just a few clicks of the mouse, backed up files can be easily found and restored.
  3. Automatic. Time is one of the most commonly stated reasons people aren’t backing up their data. Cloud backup doesn’t require an additional time commitment for you or your customer. Computer files are backed up to the cloud automatically and continuously, whenever you’re connected to the Internet.
  4. Off-Site. It’s important to keep a copy of files offsite. Even if important files are backed up on a file server, or external hard drive, a hurricane, flood, fire or theft could destroy the computers… and backups. Keeping backed up files in the cloud ensures data is safe no matter what is going on at your office.
  5. Affordable. Small businesses don’t have unlimited budgets. It’s important to use a solution that makes sense and won’t require your customer to incur a huge expenditure. For as low as  hundred dollars per year, your customers can have all of their data backed up to the cloud.

The advent of cloud storage has created an affordable disaster recovery option to backup critical data for retrieval after a data loss event or other disaster.  Here at Perry Hall PC Repair we are a firm believer in Backing up your data. With an Online Backup program in place once set up your data will be constantly backed up safely and securely.

Baltimore Data Backup Solutions

 

Tips To Keep Your PC Safe From Disaster and Protected

computer-repair -baltimore-county-pc-crashHere’s some simple tips that can keep your computer safe from disaster and protected on the web.

1. Use Windows update regularly to keep your operating system safe and running smooth.

2. Scan your PC with Secunia PSI to find important patches for other installed programs.

3. Install a reputable antivirus program and keep it up to date.

4. Prevent hackers from accessing your computer by enabling the Windows firewall.

5. Enable system restore to help undo unpredictable changes to your computer.

6. Backup your important files to an external drive.

7. Use an online backup service to protect your important files from local disasters.

 

Local Baltimore Computer RepairPerry Hall PC Repair

Thinking of Buying an All In One Computer? Think Again

hp-touchsmart-iq800-series-all-in-one-pcWhen you buy a real desktop PC you can usually upgrade it after a few years by replacing parts or even taking out the parts and putting them into a new computer. You can also use the monitor with another computer in the future. When you have an all in one computer you are extremely limited in what you can upgrade. After a few years your all in one computer becomes out dated and you have to buy a completely new computer to catch up with technology.

Tips from our Baltimore Computer Repair Shop

Computer Repairs tends to also be much easier when you are working with a desktop. Desktops typically have significantly more room to work in and they do not use as many proprietary parts. If an aspect of the desktop breaks you can just swap it out with a new part. Please remember that not all desktop computers are equal so try to avoid any of those smaller mini towers as they can be significantly more difficult to upgrade.

Heat – is one of the things that damage the most of a computer. Tower desktops are originate so that the fan creates a vortex that helps cooling the parts inside. For laptops and all-in-one computers the space is limited, so it’s harder to an effective airflow to cool down the parts.

The Screen – because the screen is part of you computer. If it breaks, you can’t use your computer will being worked on. For a desktop you just plug in an other screen and you are back at work.

If you are considering buying an All In One Computer Our  Suggestion at Perry Hall PC Repair is to buy a Laptop. For the same price, you’ll have computer of equal power that able to move around. If you don’t like typing on the small screen, it’s easy to plug a keyboard and mouse in your laptop. Think a laptop screen is too small, you can connect to a monitor of your liking of your liking and use you laptop screen as a on the go screen.

 

Perry Hall PC Repair Special Offer:

Get your computer back in top running order just in time for school.

PC Tune Up: $25 (in Shop On Site $45)
PC Backup: $50 + cost of media
Virus Removal: $69 (In Shop Free Pick Up and Drop Off)
Hardware Upgrades: $20 with the purchase of any of the above services. (Labor only Parts Additional)

 

Computer Repair and Virus removal in Baltimore, Maryland – Connected PC Solutions