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Petya-based ransomware infects computers worldwide

A new Petya-based ransomware is quickly spreading and infecting PCs worldwide. Here’s what you need to know about this growing outbreak, and what you should do now to stay safe.

While ransomware was initially used to target companies, cybercriminals today target home users just as frequently. The virus usually finds it way in through operating systems that have not been updated, so always make sure both your antivirus software and your operating systems are the most recent versions.

Further to reports of a massive cyberattack hitting a number of companies in Ukraine, including banks, energy companies, and transport services, as well as the government, we believe this malware is based on a particular type of ransomware first identified in 2016, when it was spotted, patched, and bundled in a strain called PetrWrap.

The Ukraine attack has spreadisappears to be spreading, with incidents being reported in the U.S, U.K, Russia, India, France, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Belgium, and the Netherlands, among others.. Those behind the attack are demanding from each user a $300 ransom to be paid in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

This modification of Petya seems to be spreading using the EternalBlue vulnerability, the same one used to spread WannaCry. Avast has seen over 12,000 malware attempts to exploit EternalBlue, which we detected and blocked. Our internal data reveals that 38 million PCs scanned last week had not patched their systems with updates and were running with the EternalBlue vulnerability. The actual number of vulnerable PCs is probably much higher.

While we don’t know who is behind this specific cyberattack, we do know that one of the contemptible characteristics of Petya ransomware is that its creators offer it on the darknet with an affiliate model. The model gives distributors a share of up to 85% of the paid ransom, while 15% is kept by the malware authors. The malware authors provide the whole infrastructure, C&C servers, and money transfer method. This type of model is called “ransomware-as-a- service (RaaS),” which allows the malware creators to win over non-tech savvy customers to distribute their ransomware.

 

AVG Protection

We strongly recommend that all Windows users update their systems with the latest patches as soon as possible, and make sure their antivirus software is also up to date. AVG antivirus technology detects and removes the Petya-based ransomware, as well as other kinds of malware. If your PC is infected with Petya, our antivirus will detect, quarantine, and destroy it. If it detects Petya trying to enter your computer, it will block it from getting in. If you are looking for a thorough and comprehensive malware removal and prevention tool, AVG has got you covered — from the essential protection of our AntiVirus FREE to the advanced security and performance features of AVG Internet Security.

 

5 Top Challenges to Digital Transformation

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on about digital transformation, it’s that change is constant – and happening faster than ever before. We’ve seen many iconic brands upended in recent history by digital disruption (think Blockbuster as one we all know), which provides every brand and organization with a sense of urgency – that we must find and act on change before it finds us.

Every organization looking to tackle digital transformation instead of being tackled is sure to face some challenges. In the 2016 State of Digital Transformation Report, Brian Solis and the Altimeter Group surveyed 500 executives and digital transformation strategists whose organizations had already begun digital transformation initiatives.  Five top challenges most common among those surveyed included:

  1. understanding customer behavior
  2. a lack of data or ROI to justify the value of digital transformation
  3. risk management, compliance or legal complications
  4. resources required
  5. changing the company culture to be agile.

Change is Hard

These same challenges were echoed in a recent informal survey of business executives in Los Angeles and Chicago by Microsoft. Digital transformation in their organization was being hindered they said, because their organizational or corporate culture was not open to rapid change or new ideas. Others said legacy systems, a lack of collaboration, and a lack of data and intelligence were holding them back.

The cost of innovation was noted as a barrier, too, which goes along with findings of a recent Economist Intelligence Unit Digital Evolution Report which found 88% of the companies surveyed for the report believe they “do not have the right technology in place to currently execute a digital strategy.”

Challenge(s) Accepted

The good news is that facing the common challenges associated with digital transformation initiatives pays off:

If you need help to know more how technology can transform your business, call us at +63-2-8590505 or send an email to pinoysmes@microsoft.com.

This post has been originally published here.

The post 5 Top Challenges to Digital Transformation appeared first on Microsoft's Small and Medium Business Blog for The Philippines.

Protecting your business from the next ransomware attack

With more than 120 million ransomware samples in 2015 alone, now as of 2017, it has become one of the fastest growing and lucrative threats to businesses on the web.

Ransomware disguises itself by hiding inside of email and website links and then hijack your computer until you agree to pay the ransom. Prevention is possible and important to avoiding these types of attacks. Our AVG Business survival guide will help you protect yourself and your business before the next threat occurs.

 

Photo credit: Unsplash photographer Illya Pavlov

WannaCry and Bring Your Own Device – What next for SMBs?

Bring your own device policy develops a need for key best protection practices after WannaCry ransomware attacks creates an immediate demand from businesses for stronger cyber security and patch installations.

After WannaCry saw businesses worldwide held to ransom, the need for better cyber security and installing the latest software patches has become a high priority.

To protect from cyber-attacks, best practice recommends updating software, running antivirus, and backing up data. But this is not always quick and easy to do – especially if the business has a bring your own device (BYOD) policy in place.

Many employees now use their personal devices for business. This offers the convenience of being able to work remotely and reduce the cost of managing IT for the business. But because it’s a personal device, it is also natural for employees to want to keep control of it.

In other words, how can a balance be struck between personal privacy and protecting business systems and data which the device might have access to?

One solution

With the agreement of the employee, businesses can use Mobile Device Management (MDM) software to check that personal devices used for work, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, are updated.

However, this software can also track a device’s location and potentially wipe its data remotely, if it is stolen for instance. This presents something of a dilemma for the employer and employee.

There is a risk that employees would feel pressured to agreeing to such software being used – even if for positive reasons – or that it is implicitly giving the employer permission to spy on them.

Personal control

The major anxiety for employees surrounding MDM is the danger of either losing personal data or it being seen by other people outside of their private circle. If the device was stolen and the company chose to wipe it, personal content like family photographs, could be destroyed alongside business data.

The concern for business is that by not having such controls in place, they may not be able to prevent unauthorized access to business data or systems. Regarding their employees, the concern for business is that their anxieties are not unfounded.

Even a simple connection to a company system like Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync means that IT staff could remove or delete personal data from an employee’s phone. MDM potentially increases this access to make photographs, private documents and browsing history accessible to employers too.

Furthermore, if the business faced litigation or were involved in an official investigation of some sort, the employee’s phone, along with their personal content, might be seized and the content viewed by investigators, lawyers, a jury and judges.

Gaining trust

While employees’ concerns are valid, if the business clarifies what the MDM does and why it is important, this could go some way to building trust and agreement.

While small businesses might not have a dedicated IT specialist or the technical know-how to implement MDM, having a brief and honest chat with employees is unlikely to be enough to allay their concerns.

Developing an acceptable use policy for BYOD is best practice, but technical language or legalese could further confuse employees who might not quite understand what they are agreeing to. What is required are BYOD policies that are easy to understand, transparent and updated regularly to maintain their effectiveness.

Balance

While it is easy to frame the concerns around MDM as a conflict between maintaining personal privacy and keeping business systems safe and data confidential, the reality is different.

Attacks like WannaCry pose a threat to both business and individuals because any of the information on an unprotected device could be held to ransom, stolen or corrupted.

Security is not something just for IT staff to deal with, it is something everyone has to be involved in for it to succeed. This will require regular and practical training to boost understanding and develop trust. With that in place, employer and employees are more likely to work together to combat potential cyber-attacks in the future.

 

Three steps towards cyber safety for SMBs:

  1. Assess yourself

AVG’s Small Business IT Security Health Check is a starting point to assess how strong the digital security of your business is. The results point out practical steps SMBs can take to re-assess cyber security.

  1. Take advice

Check the best practice for your region. Official advice recommendations from US-CERT include applying relevant patches, enabling strong spam filters, and ensuring antivirus software is set to scan regularly.

  1. Educate yourself

While BYOD has many benefits, understanding the pitfalls is essential to building a successful policy. AVG’s free Bring Your Own Device eBook will guide SMBs and help to construct a BYOD policy that is beneficial for everyone.

 

Why data analytics is essential for small retailers

If you’re like most small retail shops, you’re constantly navigating the murky relationship between supply and demand. More specifically, you ask yourself “How much inventory can I afford and will it appeal to my customers?” Almost every retailer has had the experience of having too little merchandise, resulting in lost sales and unhappy customers. Conversely, store owners who buy too much find themselves later discounting the price, or selling at a loss, just to move the inventory. In some extreme cases this ‘miscalibration’ can even cost the entire business.

Experiencing problems with inventory management is actually an indication of a deeper and even more vexing problem: a poor understanding of the customer. Selecting products has traditionally been more of an art than a science for small retail shops where owners have relied on their own taste or a ‘best guess’ about what might resonate with their customers. Now, in our modern era of business data and intelligence, retail shops can make much more informed decisions about what to stock. This is the new era of analytics – and it’s not just for Walmart and Amazon anymore.

Many small businesses initially feel intimidated when they hear about analytics. But the reality is these retailers often already have data about their customer interactions in their systems; they are just challenged to access the information and transform it into actionable insight. When evaluating the next order to a supplier, retailers can use analytics to answer questions such as: Have my customers purchased similar products in the past? Are there particular seasons or months when these types of products are most popular? What feedback have I had from specific customers in the past that would indicate whether they would want this other product?

Using analytics for better customer service and inventory management

New customer insights can inform more than inventory decisions; they can also foster an even deeper understanding of the customer to create a rich feedback loop. Here’s how the process works:

Making Smarter Inventory Decisions

First, a retailer needs a system to convert their existing customer insights into useful analytics for making more informed decisions about new products. Then, retailers can use this same data from their system to proactively recommend the new products they’ve ordered when that particular customer comes into the store.

Increasing Sales

Analytics increases sales because customers who feel a store owner is responding to their individual tastes and needs are more satisfied and – ultimately – more likely to purchase the product. Increasingly, customers expect more personalized attention because it’s what they experience in the digital world (i.e. Amazon suggests a book based on a previous purchase).

Capturing Customer Sentiment

The final step is collecting new customer insights on an ongoing basis to generate more insightful analytics down the road. In this way, customer analytics creates a whole system whereby the relationship between inventory and customer desire are more and more closely aligned to the point where inventory ‘errors’ become a thing of the past.

Today’s business environment for retailers is more competitive than ever. For example, brick and mortar shops are facing increased competition from online retailers that can minimize inventory management problems because they secure the sale even before they place an order with a supplier. Analytics is increasingly becoming an essential component of operating all retail businesses and for finding the balance between inventory and sales.

Data is the key to discerning a customer’s desires. Small retail stores are realizing they need adopt more precise and effective business practices, or risk becoming obsolete.

If you need help to drive data insights in your organization, call us at +63-2-8590505 or send an email to pinoysmes@microsoft.com.

This post has been originally published here.

The post Why data analytics is essential for small retailers appeared first on Microsoft's Small and Medium Business Blog for The Philippines.

Office 2007 support is ending: Here’s what you can do

Technology today is progressing faster than ever and the reality is this: businesses need to embrace digital transformation and continually update software and products in order to survive. Using old and outdated software runs the risk of hindering employees from being equipped and prepared to compete in a global, Internet-enabled marketplace.

After a 10-year life cycle, October 10, 2017 will mark the official end of Office 2007. What does this mean for organisations like yours, who are still running on Office 2007?

Discontinuation of security updates

Performance, compatibility, security patches and hotfixes will no longer be deployed. Products will continue to boot up but will be at risk of hackers, unsupported features and incompatibility with connected applications.

Reduced functionality

Potential service interruptions and reduced functionality might occur when integrating with modern version of Office servers and Office 365 services.

Increased risk and challenges

Using an out-of-support Office client increases security risks, creates compliance challenges with regulations or legislation, and reduced support from OEMs and 3rd party providers of software and services.

What can you do to stay supported?

Whether your organisation is running solely on Office 2007, or on a mix of both old and new Office licenses, this is what you can do to stay up-to-date and supported.

Just follow these three steps:

Update. Start a Success Plan. Engage a Microsoft Partner.

Depending on your licensing agreement, your organisation may be entitled to update to Office 365 – the most up-to-date, cloud-based Office client that provides a fully managed, trusted and secure platform for your company. That way, you needn’t worry about maintaining updates and products with end-of-life challenges.

For organisations looking to upgrade, Microsoft provides a programme called FastTrack for Office 365 customers with at least 50 seats. Microsoft FastTrack helps you create a Success Plan to adopt and migrate your systems to the latest version of Office.

Make your move to the cloud

Many organisations ask the same questions about moving to the cloud: Do I have to re-train my employees? What is the real benefit about moving to the cloud? Is it secure?

Our cloud-based solutions allow you to use the same applications your employees are used to, with the added advantage of ubiquitous access to online files. You’ll experience various benefits from cloud-based technology such as:

  • Faster access and real-time communication through infrastructure, systems and teams
  • Deeper data insights through Business Intelligence
  • In-built security, data back-ups and up-to-date software

More and more businesses are seeing success in moving to the cloud with Office 365. Get your free copy of ‘7 ways to work smarter in the Cloud’ eBook now.

Should you wish to know more how to be equipped and prepared to compete in a global, Internet-enabled marketplace through technology, contact us at +63-2-8590505 or pinoysmes@microsoft.com.

 

The post Office 2007 support is ending: Here’s what you can do appeared first on Microsoft's Small and Medium Business Blog for The Philippines.

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