Macs and Windows Vulnerable to Ransomware

Infected ECU computers will be wiped

Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island for the last few weeks, you know that ransomware is a global threat affecting vulnerable Windows and Mac computers. Yes, even the Macintosh OS can be infected by this insidious malware that locks your system, encrypts your data and infects the network to which you are connected. While this threat may seem scary and overwhelming, there are ways to circumvent being a victim. Read on to get started.

How Does Ransomware Work?

The user clicks on a malicious link or document that triggers the ransomware code. If the computer’s software is unpatched and unprotected, the worm finds its way in and looks for files to encrypt. After encrypting your files, it then moves on to the network to find other Mac or Windows targets.

If the ransomware cannot encrypt anything or access the network, it can go dormant until triggered.

Even if you pay the ransom, and the files are decrypted, the thieves may have left a way to reinfect your system at a later date in order to extort more money from you.

What Happens if Your ECU Computer Becomes Infected?

If your ECU computer becomes infected with ransomware, ITCS cannot recover your data. The hard drive will be wiped and all data will be lost.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

Following these tips for your ECU or personal computer will go a long way toward protecting your system from ransomware.

  1. Do not store ECU data on your computer.
  2. Create and manage a backup for data that is stored on the system.
  3. Do not open spam emails or emails from unknown senders.
  4. Do not download or open attachments from suspicious emails.
  5. Do not click links in suspicious emails.
  6. Keep your operating system up to date.
  7. Keep Symantec EndPoint Protection up to date. It is also available for your personal computer from the ECU Download Center.
  8. Turn off administrative privileges on your computer account. Use a separate account with higher level privileges if needed.
  9. Remove outdated plugins in your web browsers.

While not completely fool-proof, these actions go a long way toward keeping your data safe from hackers.

Need more help or have questions? Contact the IT Help Desk at 252.328.9866 | 800.340.7081.

What You Need to Know Before Purchasing Apple Laptops

The new 2016 MacBook Pro models have two major changes in the hardware that should be noted.

Hardware change one:

The new SSD hard drive is soldered to the board. This means it cannot be replaced without replacing the entire logic board. Retrieval of data on the laptop may not be possible depending on the extent of the damage. (Apple warranty is for manufacturing issues only; not for liquid spills, drops or abuse).

With this new format, it will be critical for you to back up your data using the Piratedrive for sensitive documents and OneDrive for off-campus collaboration.

Hardware change two:

The ports on the sides of your new laptop have completely changed. They are now all USB-C, so you will need to research the adapters to attach any monitors, printers, keyboards or other peripherals. The Belkin USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter is required to attach to ECU’s network. Details can be found at: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204360.

New features:

Assistive Features Begin with Your Operating System

Both MacOS and Windows offer plenty of built-in assistive features so devices work specifically for YOU.

Here are a few options you can implement right now to make your devices more user friendly:

MacOS:

Open your laptop’s system preferences and choose Accessibility or tap your mobile’s Settings icon, then General to open the Accessibility category. Below are just a few of the features you’ll find:

  1. Display. Configure the display contrast that works best for you. There is also an option to “shake the mouse pointer” to make it easier to locate on the screen. The Display Preferences button allows quick access to your resolution settings.
  2. Zoom. Set your zoom range and configure keyboard shortcuts to zoom in or out as you need.
  3. VoiceOver. Provides spoken and brail descriptions of items on the screen. Try it out in the Apple Accessibility Support site’s Open Voiceover Training section to learn the basics.
  4. Dictation. Edit text and interact with your device using your voice.
  5. Use your mobile’s camera to magnify objects.

Visit the Apple Accessibility Support site to read about the featured topic or search an accessibility topic. You can also join the accessibility community to hear how others use these features. Apple Support is also available online to offer a suggestion or solution.

Windows

Like Apple, Windows offers a variety of assistive features to make your computing life richer. When you open the Windows Accessibility website, just choose your Windows version to find available features. Let’s take a look at a few options from Windows 10:

  1. Vision. Customize your display with high-contrast themes, text and pointer sizing and the option to turn off animations and backgrounds. Narrator, the Windows built-in screen reader, allows you to interact with apps and control your device without seeing the screen.
  2. Auditory. Replace audible alerts with visible alerts or customize your closed captions to make them easier to read.
  3. Physical. Your digital assistant, Cortana, can set reminders, open apps, search or send emails and texts or use speech recognition to dictate your documents.
  4. Cognitive. The Edge browser’s Edge Reading View option blocks distracting content from web pages so you stay focused.

To configure the Windows 10 assistive settings, open the device’s Settings area. Windows 7 and 8 systems can be accessed through the system’s Control Panel.