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August 31, 2016

That Windows Update on Your Desktop Could be Ransomware

A new type of ransomware is spreading across the Web that you need to know about. 

Here’s how it works:

First, a user will see a pop-up message that looks like a Windows update from Microsoft. The message, though, is a trick. The “update” is actually a malicious program called Fantom which contains ransomware—a devastating cyberextortion tool.

Once the user agrees to run the program, the process looks like a normal Windows update. What happens, though, is anything but that. Fantom extracts files from the machine, and locks them using AES-128 encryption. After the “update” ends, the files files appear as .fantom extensions.

An email is then sent to the user informing them that their files are locked.

So, how can you avoid Fantom-related complications? The easiest way is to notify your coworkers to avoid installing any Windows updates on their machines. Tell them to contact support immediately if they see any update notifications on their desktops. You could also consider disabling Windows updates, to avoid confusion.

If an end user accidentally runs Fantom, your business will be faced with a tough decision: Risk losing access to the encrypted files, or pay to get them back.

As we have discussed numerous times here on the Apex Technology Services blog, paying a ransom is far from ideal. You may not actually get your files back after making a payment. And you could also be funding a criminal or even terrorist group.

This ransomware issue should serve as a reminder that IT needs to have complete visibility and control over all user machines. If computer management is left to end users, your business will run into countless problems.

Aside from cybersecurity issues, users may also wind up performing updates that slow down their computers or impact other applications on the network. This could increase trouble tickets and slow down productivity.  

Apex Technology Services can work with your organization to streamline computer management operations. Apex can provide support for a wide range of issues, from cybersecurity and ransomware to daily system maintenance.

 A new breed of hacktrepeneurs has awoken and they have little to fear and everything to gain by infecting as many companies as possible and extorting money from them. Apex Technology Services stands ready to protect your company regardless of whether it’s located in New York CityWhite Plains, New York; Connecticut; Australia; Europe; or anywhere else. Our full suite of cybersecurity and IT support services is at your disposal, enabling you to spend less time worrying about and more time growing your business.

In addition, our new Cybersecurity Compliance Certification for law firms will help keep your legal practice from becoming the next Panama Papers victim. This baseline cybersecurity audit for the legal industry should be considered seriously by all law firms.

Apex Technology Services
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