SpireTech Blog - Author: SpireTech
Ransomware is a plague on businesses and insurers. Cyber insurance can provide protection in the event your business falls victim. However – we’ve heard insurance rates are going up across the board due to ransomware, and hefty payouts that insurers have been forced to make. Fortunately, none of our clients have fallen victim, but we’ve heard some horror stories. Not only will the crooks encrypt your files, but they’ll also threaten to publish your sensitive data if you don’t pay – damaging your business reputation.
You may have heard about the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline on Friday. They brought in specialists to examine the evidence to determine what happened, restore normal operations, and secure systems. Often this means replacing entire systems and networks. We’ve heard the IT people and the company management will suffer PTSD-like symptoms due to the stress involved. Of course this is all very expensive – not to mention hefty ransom payments that may be involved. Read more...
A new vulnerability affecting most Dell computers was announced this week. The vulnerability cannot be exploited remotely – but we have remediated the issue.
Our NOC team prepared an automation and removed the vulnerable file from all Dell systems supported under our VIPsupport management. Dell is releasing updates to their firmware update tool that will prevent this vulnerability from being exposed or reinstalled.
For more information on the vulnerability, you can visit Dell’s webpage regarding the issue here.
Our team has refined the process of migrating systems from on-premises Active directory servers to Azure AD quite well. We’re liberating our clients from the bounds of the office, removing legacy file servers, and enabling employees to work from anywhere. We can’t name clients here – but there are many more employees now enjoying the benefits of the modern workplace.
From an IT management perspective, there are a couple of key technologies enabling this transition. We’ve written about them before: one is Azure AD (Active Directory), the other is Microsoft Endpoint Manager (formerly known as Intune). Perhaps some explanation is order about why computer geeks (and any business owner that cares about security) thinks these things are cool.
When you purchase a new windows computer, your employees login to the initial setup screen using their company email address. No IT person has to touch the computer – Microsoft Endpoint manager will install your required business software, setup email accounts, and link to your company SharePoint libraries with OneDrive. Read more...
Microsoft recently released a new feature for M365 that automatically converts word documents to PowerPoint presentations. Why is this useful?
Perhaps you have prepared a proposal for a client that you’re going to be reviewing in Teams. Instead of going over a boring Word document, you can convert it to a PowerPoint! This feature is only available in Word online.
The AI uses what your document “says” to choose icons and images. Headers and document formatting is used as a clue to create new slides for each header section. Bullet lists often become stylized lists, sometimes with images.
Try it out in Word online by going to File->Export->Export to PowerPoint (preview). Choose a theme and watch what happens – it’s pretty handy!
Apr 1, 2021
On the one-year anniversary of our cloud server migration solution, we’d like to re-post a youtube video of it in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySvx4-6K8sQ
Ubiquiti, a vendor best known for inexpensive and reliable Wi-Fi gear has been hacked. Rumor is that an employee’s LastPass credentials were stolen, which allowed hackers access to Ubiquiti’s entire infrastructure, including customer data, passwords, and so on. The IT community has been annoyed by the vendor’s evasiveness in its response.
While we use and recommend Ubiquiti Wi-Fi gear, we do not use their cloud-hosted wireless management servers, and do not store information on Ubiquiti servers, so we do not believe our clients are impacted.
For more information on the breach, see https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/31/22360409/ubiquiti-networking-data-breach-response-whistleblower-cybersecurity-incident
Our service desk spent an unusual amount of time last month troubleshooting internet connectivity related issues for clients. Typically, we’re looking at speed or downtime issues at an office that workers are trying to connect to over VPN to work remotely. Oftentimes, we’re spending a lot of time dealing with technical support at the various ISP’s around town – which has led us to have opinions on who is good and who is not in the Portland metro area. It is almost always the ISP’s problem, and certain ones have earned a well-deserved spot on our “bad” list for being time-wasters or just plain unreliable. Talk to us before you order internet, please.
What can we do to mitigate these speed or reliability issues? There are two things:
- If you are keeping your office long term and have a second ISP available in your area, we can look at redundant internet connections, combined with a Bigleaf appliance. Bigleaf is a local company in Beaverton that offers affordable appliances that handle redundancy and speed optimization automatically. This is also useful when you are using a phone system that relies on the internet to function, such as VoIP.
An update that Microsoft released in March caused issues for many users, ranging from printouts and PDF exports containing no text, jumbled text/graphics, applications freezing or giving errors, or even a full system crash (aka “blue screen”) when attempting to print. We quickly blocked it from being installed, but had to roll it back on many systems where it had already been deployed. The “fix” to the patch that was subsequently released also caused further issues. This is unfortunate, because the patch also contains important security fixes.
We believe that the next update that will be released in April will fix the bug but we are proceeding carefully. For further technical information, please see the following article: https://windowsreport.com/kb5000802-kb5000808-bsod/
We aren’t sure why this isn’t “Headline News”, but it should be: Due to a technical glitch or human error, Microsoft recently deleted files from some SharePoint online sites. Across our client base, one customer was affected – to the tune of approximately 300k files missing, scattered randomly about their file structure.
There were grumblings online about this happening to others: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/microsoft/mysterious-bug-is-deleting-microsoft-teams-sharepoint-files/
Microsoft issued some advisories, but wasn’t fessing up to the cause, and technical support was extremely slow to assist or even acknowledge the situation. We believe the issue was related to an Azure AD authentication problem that happened around the same time – also plaguing lots of businesses – around March 15th, where people could not login to any Microsoft or other cloud services that depend on Azure AD for authentication.
So yes, this should underscore the message that you do need to backup your cloud storage using a service or specialized hardware. This would include all cloud vendors – not just Microsoft. As we all know and experience frequently, software bugs or human error can lead to data loss. Read more...