Android Ransomware Kits on the Rise

Posted March 23, 2018 by

Smartphone with a large lock icon of embedded ransomware words on the screen.The do-it-yourselfers of the world have enjoyed the autonomy that the Internet brings into their lives. They can now look up how-to guides and YouTube videos on how to do just about anything. However, the Internet has also given hackers and other cybercriminals access to all sorts of technology that makes using malware and other threats easier than ever before–even for inexperienced users.

Malware kits are certainly not a new concept, although you might be surprised to hear that the first kits emerged as early as the 1990s. The introduction of the Dark Web made the transfer of illegal goods and services easier on a global scale, and developing technologies like cryptocurrency have only contributed to the rise of contraband being spread without consequences. The anonymity provided by virtual private networks is simply the icing on the cake, making it difficult for authorities to investigate the activity.

While most of these kits target the Windows operating system, there is an increasing number of malware kits that target other operating systems. In the past year alone, cybersecurity analysts expect an increase in ransomware kits that target Android smartphones. These types of kits are called “ransomware as a service,” in which just about any user with basic knowledge of how computers work can pull off a legitimate ransomware attack.

The type of malware that’s targeting Android smartphones can potentially cost your business thousands of dollars, and that’s not mentioning the data and reputation lost from the incident. These kits go for about $200 on the black market, making them a very lucrative solution. To make matters worse, there are plenty of reasons why Android devices are ideal targets for these types of attacks. Android is used on the vast majority of smartphones–approximately 86% of smartphones around the world. The fact that a $200 investment can yield untold profits makes it tempting, regardless of how ethical the decision is.

Furthermore, statistics show that many Android users are running outdated versions of the operating system, which means that there are patches and security updates that aren’t being implemented on these devices. This makes it more likely that the ransomware attack will succeed on Android-based devices.

It’s almost guaranteed that your business will eventually have to deal with mobile devices in the workplace, accessing important data and information from your network. The best way to ensure that mobile devices are secure from these types of threats is to implement a mobile device management policy that takes into account security and network access. To learn more about how you can keep your business safe from ransomware, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Tip of the Week: How to Transfer Apps to a New Phone

Posted March 21, 2018 by

Two smartphones with a red arrow pointing from one to the other.There is little that is more satisfying than obtaining a new phone. However, this sense of satisfaction is often undermined by the need to get your applications and data to ensure that your new device has everything you normally use installed. For this week’s tip, we’ll go over a method of making this process easier on an Android phone.

The first step to ensuring that your Android’s data can be retrieved is to ensure that it is properly backed up and able to be retrieved.

To check, you will need to access Settings, before opening Backup & reset. You will then have to toggle on Back up my data. You’ll then return to the previous menu and select Backup & reset. Check that your Android account is the correct one in Backup account. You will then toggle automatic restore to On to be able to restore settings and data associated with the Android account in question.

Now that you’ve enabled Android’s backup service, your personal settings and application data will be saved to Google Drive. Now that the preliminary steps are handled, it’s time to restore your applications and settings to your new phone.


Restoring your applications and data is pretty straightforward if you are utilizing the Lollipop-version of the Android OS or above. This setting is available to phones as they’re booting up for the first time, or just after they have been factory reset.

  1. Select the arrow at the welcome screen to start setting up your phone.
  2. Select System language and log into your Wi-Fi network.
  3. Select Accept and continue.
  4. You can then copy your Google accounts, apps, and data from another device. If you choose not to do that, you can then forge ahead by logging in to your Google account.
  5. There will be a privacy statement. Select Accept.
  6. Now go to the Google services page. Here you can select to enable the backup service for your account.
  7. Choose all your preferences and select Next.
  8. If you want to add an email account, you can do so in the Add another email section. If you don’t need to do that, just select Not now, then select Next.
  9. You will then have to restore your apps from the “Which device?” menu. You will see all the Android devices that you’ve used. Select the device to see which apps will be available when you restore. If you don’t want everything restored, you can choose the arrow next to the Restore option and select what you’d like to restore and what you’d like to leave off your new device.
  10. Choose which device’s configuration you want to restore from, and select Restore.

After your apps are restored, be sure to enable security for your phone; and, if you so choose, get Google Now for your device.

The Android smartphone is one of today’s most important productivity tools. For more great information about mobile usability and security, give us a call today at (877) NET – KING.

Have You Built an IT Strategy that Fits Your Business?

Posted March 20, 2018 by

Man in suit with holographic checkmark icon.A business that relies on its technology to function needs to do more than make sure that this technology is able to sustain them. This technology should also be primed to help management and staff achieve their business goals.

An IT strategy is a plan that an organization uses to map out how technology should be leveraged and invested in. As a written document, it provides a guide that helps to organize the numerous considerations that an organization needs to take into account as they go about their business processes.

Developing an IT Strategy

Because of this, any complete IT strategy needs to include a variety of different considerations. This means it resembles a blueprint of your IT’s role in the rest of your business that gives your technology a trajectory to follow in the foreseeable future. To accomplish this, any IT strategy should include some reference to the following:

A Departmental Overview

It is important that your IT strategy acknowledges the department that will need to execute it. By identifying the motivating force behind your IT department and assigning objectives to it, you can get a better grasp on the nature of your company and its internal IT resources.

Record of Existing Resources

A key component of developing an effective IT strategy is to maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date record of any and all resources that your current IT has. This includes the pieces that make up your infrastructure, as well as what your IT department has to offer in terms of abilities and skills.

Future Focus

Your IT strategy also needs to account for changes that will most certainly come in the industry. This means it should include information on current budgets and initiatives, as well as spending forecasts, anticipated industry changes, and future projects.

SWOT Analysis

As you document your IT strategy, you should include an evaluation of your current IT’s strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to prioritize different elements in your strategy to make up for potential deficits, as well as to hypothesize what opportunities you may encounter as IT solutions and processes advance, and anticipate the threats you may encounter.

Putting Your IT Strategy in Action

Once these considerations have been made, it’s time to turn your focus to actually enacting your IT strategy. Before you do anything else, you need to assess where your IT stands currently and establish the difference between where it is now and where you want it to be. Benchmarking and identifying the right key performance indicators will help to show you where your biggest IT deficits lie.

As a result, you can identify which of your short- and long-term goals will be most useful to strive towards with this particular shift in your IT strategy. However, both you and your technology should be prepared to adjust to a sudden change in your IT strategy and the approach that your strategy informs.

The Importance of an IT Strategy

As the technology that a business leverages has become increasingly impactful upon that business’ success, it has become clear that business needs to have a strategy in mind to optimize it and improve their operations. Otherwise, that business may fall behind another that pays more attention to their technology solutions.

Excalibur Technology can assist you in creating an IT strategy for your business, supporting you every step of the way. Give us a call at (877) NET – KING for more information.

Introducing the Three Types of Cloud Solutions

Posted March 20, 2018 by

Outline of a cloud with many gears inside.Cloud computing is an ever-growing industry, and it’s only going to grow more popular as time goes on. More businesses than ever have started to adopt the cloud in at least some capacity. Is your company one of the few that haven’t yet moved to the cloud? If so, you’ll want to at least consider it, as your business could gain considerable benefits from doing so.

Depending on the type of business you run, as well as its specific needs, the type of cloud you implement will vary in scope, size, and build. There are typically three different types of the cloud: public, private, and hybrid. Each of them comes with their own specific strengths and weaknesses.

Public Cloud

The public cloud is meant to help businesses with a limited budget gain access to crucial elements of the cloud, including storage, access to applications or services, and networking. Generally speaking, the public cloud is primarily used to provide entry-level cloud access to businesses of all kinds. Examples of the public cloud include services like Microsoft’s Office 365 suite, as well as Google’s G Suite, both of which provide productivity suites and storage to businesses through cloud distribution. What the public cloud offers in terms of efficiency and ease of setup can often make up for the lack of customization that many businesses find with it.

Private Cloud

Private clouds are generally more customized to suit the needs of your business, whereas public clouds are meant to be used more as a general solution. Private clouds are hosted on-site, managed by an in-house IT department, and require more attention. Compared to the public cloud, private clouds are generally implemented by businesses that know specifically what they need and how they want it set up.

Hybrid Cloud

The hybrid cloud is considered to be somewhere in the middle of the public and private, affording small businesses the benefits of both with little drawback, if any at all. Often times, hybrid clouds are implemented for the purposes of having a customized infrastructure without all of the responsibilities of managing one. A managed service provider like Excalibur Technology can manage and maintain your cloud infrastructure on its own in-house network so that you don’t have to. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Email Attachments are Schrӧdinger’s New Cat

Posted March 19, 2018 by

Black and white outline of a cat next to a cat's skeleton.Have you ever heard of the physicist Erwin Schrӧdinger? He is most well-known for explaining a paradox related to quantum physics which involves a cat. Even though the theory behind Schrӧdinger’s cat is meant to explain something quite different, it can still be applied to a lot of different concepts, and in particular, when explaining email security.

The thought experiment works as follows. The Schrӧdinger’s Cat scenario was created to strike down an interpretation of quantum mechanics that states an object can exist in all states but will revert to just one if it’s observed. As for Schrӧdinger’s experiment, a cat was hypothetically shut in a box with a small amount of radioactive material. This material had about a 50% chance of setting off a geiger counter. In this case, a hammer would smash a container filled with poison, killing the cat. If the Copenhagen interpretation is presumed to be correct, the cat would be both alive and dead until you see which one it really is.

At the time, Schrӧdinger’s cat was designed to challenge the Copenhagen interpretation, but a more modern version of this experiment can be seen in a business email solution. The primary topic associated with this line of thought is email attachments.

Spam and phishing emails are some of the more popular means that cybercriminals use to spread their influence. The idea of how this ties into Schrӧdinger’s hypothetical cat involves approaching each email as both a normal message and a real threat at the same time. The only issue here is that there’s a lot more at risk with your business’s infrastructure than with a hypothetical scenario (no cats were harmed in the creation of this blog). After all, you don’t want to click on an email attachment unless you’re absolutely sure that it’s not going to cause problems for your organization.

Thankfully, there are ways that your business can protect itself from advanced threats that make their home attached to email messages, especially spam and phishing threats. Preventative measures like antivirus and anti-malware tools are great for keeping threats off of your infrastructure, and spam protection can help remove messages from your inbox before they become a cause for concern.

Your inbox needs to be secure, so why not do it the right way? To get started with network security solutions, call Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING today.

How to Spot Three Forms of Phishing Attacks

Posted March 16, 2018 by

Three fishing hooksOne of the crazy things about hackers is that they will do whatever it takes to ensure that they steal as much information and sensitive data as possible. One of the more innovative ways that hackers spread threats is through spam. Unwanted messages have grown from simple annoyances, to the spread of unwanted software and malware, all the way to sophisticated attacks on targeted individuals known as phishing attacks. Do you have ways to secure your business?

Phishing attacks come in various shapes and forms. Here are some of the most common ways that hackers will use elaborate phishing attacks to scam your business, including phone calls, normal emails, and social media.

Phishing Calls

If you receive calls from strange numbers that don’t leave messages, there’s a solid chance that you could be the target of a phishing call. These messages are designed to target specific employees within your organization to coax information out of them. They might try to be from IT support to steal a printer model number, or perhaps they are hoping to steal usernames and passwords. Either way, the point stands that your organization contains lots of information that a scammer finds helpful.

It’s incredibly important that you teach your employees to know the difference between a fake phone call and a real one. Put them through the ringer when they call and try to guarantee their authenticity (or lack thereof). You should always cross-check contact information before giving up any information to anyone. When in doubt, simply don’t give away anything important.

Phishing Emails

While a phishing phone call will be pressuring your staff to make an immediate decision, a phishing email will likely give you more time to decide if you want to hand over information or commit to a decision. Tailor-made and customized phishing messages have risen in popularity with the intention of stealing specific information from a specific user. Often times, phishing emails will convince the user to click on a malicious link or download an attachment.

Implementing a spam filter and employee training exercises can go a long way to secure your company from phishing attacks. However, it’s still important to be able to identify the throwaway signs of spam and phishing. You should look for spelling errors or incorrect grammar, falsified information, and just about anything else that doesn’t necessarily belong. Still, phishing messages have become more elaborate than ever before, so make sure to consult security professionals if you truly can’t tell the difference between a real and fake message.

Phishing Accounts

It’s easy to use social media for bad purposes. Hackers can use them to attack their targets through the identity of someone else. A hacker can take on any identity they want, which makes phishing accounts even more difficult to identify–particularly if they have taken the identity of someone you might know. In general, just try to avoid messages that come out of the blue, and use your previous interactions with the sender to see if they are (or aren’t) who they claim to be.

Overall, just ensure that you approach potential phishing incidents with skepticism. It’s the best way to make sure that your business doesn’t fall to spam and phishing attacks. To learn more about how you can secure your company, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Ransomware Presents Big Risks

Posted March 15, 2018 by

Hacker on binary code backgroundThe business world has been presented a lot of threats recently, and perhaps one of the most notable is ransomware. The reason it has become so notorious is because it’s incredibly difficult to remove from a system; and, the way that it spreads is constantly changing and adapting to further its influence. How can your business prepare against such a volatile threat? It all starts by remaining mindful of how ransomware spreads.

First, we want to offer a little primer of ransomware in the business environment. Ransomware essentially encrypts files found on your organization’s network, locking them down so that they can’t be accessed or used by your company. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that ransomware is commonly used to cripple businesses and scare them into acting against their best interest. If the user doesn’t pay the ransom demanded of them, they could potentially lose all of their data for good. However, what the hacker doesn’t tell you is that there is no guarantee that they will give you the encryption key to access your files, even if you pay them the ransom.

You’re forced to make a difficult decision; pay up and further fund future ransomware campaigns, or hope for the best by working with cybersecurity professionals to remove the ransomware from your devices. Neither are particularly charming options–especially since nothing can be guaranteed to work.

Ransomware mostly spreads through the use of spam and phishing attacks. Since spam messages can be dispatched to countless targets easily enough, it’s simple to ensnare several users or organizations at once. As ransomware grew in popularity and efficiency, however, it began being distributed in much more dangerous ways. Phishing attacks that are much more targeted than your average spam attack allow hackers to fool even the most cautious user. In particular, these attacks are made toward businesses who tend to value data much more than the average user–simply because there’s a lot more at stake.

If you don’t know what to look for, phishing attacks can be quite difficult to identify, and they hold the potential to cause catastrophic consequences for your organization. Therefore, your staff should be able to identify and respond to ransomware while mitigating the threat. The potential of ransomware in the future is untold and holds many dangers. Hackers have begun to find new ways to take advantage of and distribute ransomware. Ransomware can be purchased on the black market, and it’s much more accessible to even small-fry hackers. How will your business be able to protect itself from these threats?

The first step toward securing your business is being wary of how to prevent ransomware from rooting itself in your business infrastructure in the first place. Never trust suspicious messages in your inbox, and always double check who the sender is whenever possible. Ransomware likes to spread through attachments, like supposed resumes, bank statements, and other information. Never click on links or download attachments until you know they are legitimate.

Furthermore, you need to have a worst-case scenario in place by implementing a backup and disaster recovery solution. This allows you to restore data from a point before the ransomware struck your business. This is the only way that you can escape from a ransomware strike relatively unscathed. Excalibur Technology can help you implement security solutions and data backup to ensure maximum survivability in the event of a ransomware attack. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Your Business Absolutely Needs BDR

Posted March 15, 2018 by

Data container with a series of round gears.Have you ever wondered what it would take to knock your company out of business for good? It might surprise you if we said that, in theory, it doesn’t take much at all–perhaps a thunderstorm or a hacking attack to cause irreparable damage to your data infrastructure. Is your company prepared to handle any and all data loss incidents? With a business continuity plan and data backup, you’ll have as great a shot as ever to bounce back following a major disaster or data loss incident.

Most notably, a business continuity plan includes much more than just data backup and recovery. While these are certainly important, a business continuity plan includes other critical aspects of running a business, including keeping your staff and personnel safe, as well as having a communications infrastructure and a place to do business in. If you’re not taking these measures into account, you could be exposing your business in such a way that a very random event could knock you out of existence.

While all of the above aspects of business continuity are important, we’re going to focus on data backup and disaster recovery, or BDR. With BDR, you can ensure that your business can survive even the worst threats. Here are some of the major considerations you’ll need to think about regarding your data backup situation.

How Much Data are You Backing Up?

There is no such thing as having too much data backed up. You should be backing up all of your data, or as much as you possibly can. This is so that you never have to guess whether or not important information has been backed up. Even losing a small amount of data, like a couple of contacts, can be a major annoyance, as you will have to waste countless hours replacing the data that has been lost.

Tape backup might take complete backups of all your data, but it can only do so in a limited capacity due to how resource-intensive this process can be. A cloud-based BDR system can take backups much more frequently, and as a result, you’ll experience minimal data loss in the event of an incident. BDR only takes backups of files that have changed since the last backup was taken.

How Often are Backups Taken?

If your data isn’t backed up often enough, you might encounter issues where data is lost due to the backups not being up-to-date. For example, a tape backup system only takes one backup, and it’s at the end of the day. Since the process is long and resource-intensive, it needs to happen after hours so that operations aren’t disturbed. Unfortunately, this leads to a situation where you could lose out on a lot of data and productivity, either due to an unforeseen loss incident or taking backups too often and causing downtime in the process.

Cloud-based BDR offers a great opportunity to help your business take advantage of much more frequent backups, all without sacrificing any uptime. Backups will only update files that have been altered, so more backups can be taken periodically throughout the workday–as often as every fifteen minutes. This helps you keep data loss to a minimum.

How Quickly Can You Restore Data?

You can’t waste any time when data loss is a problem. To minimize the damage done to your business, you’ll need to restore your resources and assets as quickly as possible. However, if you don’t have an office (or the technology to get back to work), this can be a problem. Tape backup can leave you without data for hours on end following a data loss incident, as it takes a considerable amount of time to restore. Your business can’t spare this time, and cloud-based BDR is the solution to this dilemma.

With Excalibur Technology’s BDR, you’ll be able to restore your data directly to the BDR device rather than a spare server unit (assuming you have one in the first place). This keeps you focused on operations without having to worry about replacing your hardware immediately. You can minimize downtime and keep your business in proper working order, even when the world is stacked against you.

Do you want to ensure your business can survive even the most poorly-timed data loss incident? Excalibur Technology can help you implement a data backup and disaster recovery solution that preserves your business’ data incrementally and efficiently. To learn more, check out our Net-Safe Veeam Cloud Backup service or reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Tip of the Week: ‘Secure’ Browsing Doesn’t Mean ‘Private’

Posted March 14, 2018 by

A hand holding a smartphone that says "VPN"Internet browsers, for the most part, provide enough security for the average user to come out unscathed. Nowadays, people deal with many more threats than they once did, but by in large, users stay secure when using today’s most popular browsers. Privacy, however, is a whole different matter.

Nearly every brand of browser offers some form of supposedly covert browsing options. Google Chrome has Incognito mode, Microsoft Edge allows you to access the web using “InPrivate” mode, and Apple’s Safari browser also offers users private browsing. Each of these platforms, however, are a would-be nightmare for privacy advocates. For this week’s tip, we will discuss some things you can do to keep yourself private while online.

Privacy in Browsing

Shielding your online identity inside your browser may prevent your browser’s history from tracking your online activity, but your ISP doesn’t have those kind of restrictions. Your ISP is capable of tracking every site you go to no matter what browser you use. Additionally, websites you visit when you are browsing privately, can also track your IP address regardless of your use of private browser settings. Since your path is left unprotected, it leaves your website activity open for inspection.

On that note, it also should be mentioned that no matter what kind of in-browser private setting you use, your employer, who typically owns the network you are working on, can still see what sites you access. For business owners who are serious about lost productivity from employee web surfing, there are solutions to ensure that you control what your workers can see. If you are serious about keeping your web browsing private, your best bet is to use your own virtual private network (VPN).

Virtual Private Browsing

Using a VPN will keep the connection between your system and your destination hidden, allowing you to choose the location you are browsing from. In hiding your connection under the encryption afforded by the VPN, you can get the privacy you need from anywhere on any Internet connection.

For assistance in implementing a VPN for your business’ browsing needs, reach out to Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING.

Can Your Organization Take Advantage of a Private Cloud?

Posted March 13, 2018 by

Illustration of a cloud with a lock going through it.If your business isn’t already taking advantage of the cloud in some way, you’re in the minority. Most businesses use it for something or another, depending on the industry and service rendered. Yet, there are all kinds of different cloud-based infrastructures that your organization can take advantage of, which might make the decision somewhat challenging to make. What’s the best type of cloud solution for your business?

You’ll generally be choosing between the public cloud, the private cloud, or some combination of the two. Depending on which you choose, you can expect to reap considerable benefits. Here are some of the details regarding your choices.

Public Cloud

There are certain reasons why a small business might find the public cloud ideal. Most organizations that don’t have a dedicated IT department will see a cloud solution as more additional management and maintenance that they don’t have time for. This is one of the aspects that makes the public cloud so appealing to small businesses with limited time, budgets, and workforces. The public cloud removes the responsibility of managing a cloud from your business’ shoulders while maintaining an acceptable level of security.

Businesses that take advantage of the public cloud, however, do have some reservations about the control of their data–primarily because the public cloud is generally hosted and maintained by the service provider. While this is great from an operational standpoint, it limits your ability to respond to security threats. Therefore, you must be aware of what customization options are available before making a decision regarding the public cloud.

Private Cloud

In direct contrast to the public cloud, a private cloud is hosted on your company’s in-house infrastructure, which allows for more flexibility and customization on your company’s part. You can essentially customize your cloud solution as per your requirements. Companies that have their technology maintained by an in-house team generally prefer a private cloud solution, but sometimes it’s not necessarily an option.

Companies that don’t have an internal IT department and still take advantage of a private cloud solution might wind up stretching their own resources too far. If you can’t properly take care of your technology, then perhaps a managed cloud is a better approach for your particular business. For those who want the best of both the public and private clouds, a managed private cloud is the ideal solution.

Managed Private Cloud

Small businesses that want the benefits of a private cloud solution while avoiding the heavy lifting of maintaining the server hardware should look into a managed private cloud. Excalibur Technology can use our comprehensive knowledge of managed IT solutions and cloud infrastructures to build you an on-premise cloud solution that we can remotely monitor and maintain. If you want even less to worry about, we can host your server in our own data center so that it’s as hands-off as you can get. To learn more about managed private servers, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

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