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Preferred Blog

Preferred has been serving the Tinley Park area since 1991, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

65 Bitcoin Ransom Paid by Florida City

65 Bitcoin Ransom Paid by Florida City

65 of any currency doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but when you are dealing in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, it adds up quick. One city on Florida’s Atlantic coast is finding that out the hard way after getting hit with a ransomware that stymied the city of 35,000 government’s ability to function. Let’s take a look at the situation that made the city’s leaders agree to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to scammers.

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Ransomware Shuts Down Doctors’ Office - Is Your Business Protected?

Ransomware Shuts Down Doctors’ Office - Is Your Business Protected?

Let me ask you a question… let’s say that you’re about one year from your projected retirement, when a ransomware attack encrypts all of your files. What do you do? Pack it in and retire early? This is precisely the situation that the practitioners of Brookside ENT & Hearing Services of Battle Creek, Michigan, have found themselves in - and it may not be over yet.

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The SamSam Ransomware Is Absolutely No Joke

The SamSam Ransomware Is Absolutely No Joke

The funny thing about ransomware is that they give them very strange names: Bad Rabbit sounds like the name of a villainous bunny who gets his comeuppance in some type of modern nursery rhyme, not malware that would ravage hundreds of European businesses. Locky seems like the son of Candado de seguridad, a character Medeco would come up with to educate kids on proper physical security. The latest in a long line of funny-named ransomware, SamSam, isn’t a pet name for your pet ferret you perplexingly named Sam, it is one of the worst ransomware strains ever, and it has caught the attention of U.S. Federal law enforcement.

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A Ransomware Cyberattack Struck Atlanta, Georgia

A Ransomware Cyberattack Struck Atlanta, Georgia

Ransomware doesn’t discriminate with its targets, as the city of Atlanta, Georgia now knows so painfully well. The city became the target of a ransomware attack that crippled many of its critical system workflows. The municipal government suffered from one of the most advanced and sustained attacks in recent memory.

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A New Perspective on Ransomware

A New Perspective on Ransomware

We are going to switch things up a bit and walk you through a retelling of a ransomware attack through the eyes of a business owner. Usually when we talk about these types of threats, we approach it from our perspective and talk about what you should do to prepare and what the threats are, but we wanted to try to show you what an event like this could feel like, for you, in your position, and in your own eyes. We hope that this will raise awareness of how crippling an event like this can be on your company, and we hope you let us know if this perspective helps you, your colleagues, and your staff get a more personal sense of what ransomware can do. Enjoy!

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What the Future Holds for Ransomware

What the Future Holds for Ransomware

Ransomware is a growing problem for businesses, being one of the most difficult threats to remove from an infrastructure. Not only is it easy to spread, but difficult to avoid as a whole. How can your organization prepare for this threat? It starts by being mindful of how ransomware is spread and how your employees react to it, both now and in the future.

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Targeted Ransomware Checks for Particular Attributes

Targeted Ransomware Checks for Particular Attributes

Put yourself in the shoes of a cybercriminal. If you were to launch a ransomware attack, who would be your target? Would you launch an indiscriminate attack to try to snare as many as you could, or would you narrow your focus to be more selective? As it happens, real-life cybercriminals have largely made the shift to targeted, relatively tiny, ransomware attacks.

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30 Schools Shut Down In Montana After Cyber Attack

30 Schools Shut Down In Montana After Cyber Attack

Students generally love it when classes are cancelled for whatever reason, but thanks to a cybercriminal group called TheDarkOverlord Solutions, a school in Flathead Valley, Montana was disrupted for an extended period of time. This downtime resulted in a disruption of operations for over 30 schools, as well as the threat to the personal information of countless teachers, students, and administrators due to a ransomware attack.

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Tip of the Week: Ransomware Is Exploding… Is Your Business Ready For The Blast?

Tip of the Week: Ransomware Is Exploding… Is Your Business Ready For The Blast?

When it comes to Internet threats, ransomware is the one that causes the most fear, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, as it should. According to the Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report, ransomware is growing at a yearly rate of 350%. It’s time to make sure that you’re doing what you can to stop your business from becoming another ransomware statistic. Here’s five very good tips that will help you avoid becoming a victim of the next big ransomware attack!

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Would You Share Your Browser History? This Ransomware Will

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Ransomware is a tricky piece of malware that locks down the precious files located on a victim’s computer, then (in theory) will return access to them when a ransom has been paid. Depending on the files stored on a victim’s computer, they might simply blow it off and not worry too much about losing access to a couple of pictures or videos--but what if this ransomware threatened to expose your web browsing history?

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Software Patches Take on New Importance After the WannaCry Ransomware Fiasco

Software Patches Take on New Importance After the WannaCry Ransomware Fiasco

On May 11th, 2017, the world was introduced to the WannaCry ransomware. The ransomware spread around the globe like wildfire, infecting hundreds of thousands of devices and catching many major organizations and businesses by surprise. The full extent of the ransomware’s damage is still being assessed, yet, one thing we do know: this whole fiasco was preventable.

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Getting Greedy: Ransomware Hackers are Asking for Way More Money

Getting Greedy: Ransomware Hackers are Asking for Way More Money

If fiscal reasons have stopped you from securing your network against ransomware thus far, you may want to reconsider your strategy. Not only are attacks still becoming more and more prevalent, but the developers of ransomware have lowered the price of admission for aspiring cyber criminals. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to keep your business protected against a ransomware attack.

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Alert: Fake Email Invoices Contain Ransomware

Alert: Fake Email Invoices Contain Ransomware

Ransomware is still on the rise, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has labeled it as one of the biggest dangers to businesses of all kinds. Compared to other methods of spreading malware, ransomware has a unique return on investment that keeps hackers wanting more. One new variant of ransomware uses a phishing attack that’s tailored to your real-world address, which is exceptionally concerning for victims.

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Ransomware: A Look at Today’s Worst Cyberthreat

Ransomware: A Look at Today’s Worst Cyberthreat

There are many types of malware out there, but none that are quite as scary as ransomware. Imagine being struck by a threat that instantaneously locks down your files and keeps you from accessing them until you pay a certain amount of money. If your business is targeted by ransomware, would you be able to protect it from dragging your operations into a bitter pit of despair?


Ransomware is a malicious threat that has the potential to end your company’s operations by eliminating access to critical files. It works by encrypting the files located on your PC, and the only way to get the decryption key is to pay the hackers who infected your computer. In 2015 alone, ransomware cost users over $325 million, which makes it an exceptionally lucrative venture for hackers. Ransomware generally worms its way into your PC through infected email attachments disguised as invoices or statements (i.e. phishing attacks), which means that inexperienced users might accidentally fall for the trick and unknowingly expose their PC to this threat.

Many types of ransomware will try to coerce money out of users through fear. For example, one variant of ransomware will pose as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which might claim that the user illegally downloaded copyrighted material or is in possession of incriminating pornography. Others might claim to be from local law enforcement, demanding that a fine be paid in return your files. Some don’t even bother trying to pose as other parties, and instead will simply make a demand that’s quite difficult to resist: either you pay up, or your files are gone for good.

The most well-known type of ransomware these days is Cryptolocker, which locks down the files on a user’s PC and demands a ransom. This ransom is usually to be paid in Bitcoin through the anonymous web browser, Tor, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to trace the hackers’ activity back to them. A more recent version of Cryptolocker, Cryptowall, is even more dangerous for businesses, as it allows infected PCs to spread the ransomware throughout the network they’re connected to. This means that the all it takes is for one system to get infected for your entire network to be encrypted and held hostage by hackers. This isn’t a situation you want to be in.

If your files are backed up somewhere, you should be able to eliminate the ransomware by restoring your backup. If your files aren’t backed up, however, you might feel like there’s no choice but to give in. The important thing to remember about ransomware is that you shouldn’t pay the ransom under any circumstances. In the worst case scenario, you could pay the ransom and the encryption key might not work, putting you at a severe disadvantage. This would be no skin of the hacker’s back, after all, they got your money. If you’re ever infected by ransomware, it’s important that you immediately disconnect your PC from the Internet and any network it’s connected to, and to then contact trusted technology professionals. You do have options, and we want to make sure that we’ve tried everything we can to get your files back without giving in to hackers’ demands.

Of course, the best way to keep your systems safe is to make sure that ransomware doesn’t infect your PC in the first place. A quality spam blocking solution can keep potential phishing attacks that harbor ransomware-filled attachments out of your inbox and away from your end users. In general, it’s good to have security measures put in place to minimize the possibility of threats and user errors. Therefore, it’s important that you educate your staff on email best practices, like avoiding phishing scams. Finally, a data backup solution can help save you from the worst-case scenario, in the event you do get infected.

Preferred can help your business take the fight to ransomware. To learn more, give us a call at 708-781-7110.

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New Mac-Targeting Ransomware is a Real Bad Apple

b2ap3_thumbnail_iphone_ransomware_400.jpgRansomware has been spreading like wildfire over the past few years, but up until very recently, Mac users were spared from this troubling development. Now, security researchers at Palo Alto Networks have discovered what they believe to be the first instance of completed ransomware on an Apple device. As this threat is “in the wild,” Mac users should be wary of it and see it as a potential threat.

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Why Your Business Should Be Concerned About CryptoWall

b2ap3_thumbnail_new_ransomeware_400.jpgRansomware is one of the most devastating computer viruses in today’s computing landscape. You may have heard of one of its most famous variations, Cryptolocker. It received a lot of attention when it dramatically hit the scene two short years ago. Thankfully, the threat from CryptoLocker has decreased after the GameOver Zeus botnet was taken down last year. Although, now we’ve got a new, more contagious strain of this ransomware to deal with known as Cryptowall.

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