One of the biggest threats on the internet to companies, big and small, is ransomware. I’ve been around several companies that had laptops, and even servers, fall victim to these attacks.
Essentially ransomware is when a program is installed unknowingly on a computer or network and that program renames, encrypts, or even copies and deletes files. The program then displays a notice to the computer owner that if a ransom is paid the files will be unlocked or restored.
If you think there’s no way YOUR computer or organization will be hit, I got contacted just a few weeks ago by a contractor that is by no means a large company. His computer was held ransom, making it impossible to recover years of bids and accounting information. That information was held for a couple thousand dollars. And Carbonite, a leader in cloud backup, states they get contacted by companies over 5,000 times annually about ransomware attacks!
POST UPDATE (1/10/17) – I just saw an article on a new ransomware package called Koolova that encrypts your data, then decrypts it for free once you read a couple of articles on how to protect yourself from ransomware. Sounds like this is still illegal in many parts of the world, including California, but at least you can get away mostly unscathed.
Recover Your Data
The short answer on how to recover from ransomware… is you probably can’t. There is a very real possibility that your data that is going to be lost forever even if you pay the ransom. And by paying the ransom you are only providing positive reinforcement to the criminals that this is a valid method to extort money from honest, hard working users.
If for some reason you HAVE to pay the ransom, immediately clean and back up your data by hiring someone specializing in that sort of thing, and reinstall your operating system on the infected machine. Training to your employees or family members on proper email handling or internet browsing habits can minimize the possibility of further infections.
But as the video above states, prevention is better than the cure.
Protect Your Data
Of course, the best total protection from data theft or ransomware is the not be on the internet. That’s unrealistic and won’t help you if your computer or storage device malfunctions (for what it’s worth, there’s NOTHING more sad in computing than getting a hard drive failure message from your computer).
If you have data that is very important to you, whether it’s work spreadsheets, photos, tax information, school document or anything else that would be impossible to replace, back it up today… right NOW… take some simple, and compared to paying a ransom, cheap steps to protect your data from ransomware or device failure.
Back Up Your Data
Simply getting your data to a USB drive, external hard drive, or server can save you hours of heartache. In my example above of the small company, the only computer hit was an owner’s machine that was NEVER backed up! Every other computer in the organization was backed up to a server weekly. So the one with all of the critical business information was never saved anywhere but on the local hard drive.
If you have something critical get it backed up right now. You never know when that hard drive will stop spinning.
For what it’s worth, the prevailing wisdom on backups is the 3-2-1 rule… have at least three copies of your data, on two different types of media (USB, external drive, server, cloud, another computer), with one copy offsite.
Use A Cloud Service
Cloud backup and sharing services are everywhere now and in many cases are free or cheap to use. The value of these services can be achieved in several ways including:
Having a backup of your files in case of hard drive failure, unwanted deletion, or ransomware.
Sharing files with multiple computers or even co-workers, clients or family. You can even share files to your Android or iOS device.
Immediate backup of files if saved to a specific folder on your device.
A few of the most popular cloud services are listed below. Most have a free version with more space available for a fee. These solutions fall into two different versions, cloud storage and cloud backup. The storage solutions, like Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive, allow sharing with multiple devices and people, some with and some without encryption. Carbonite is a cloud backup solution, meaning it will back up virtually an entire computer, not just a specific directory, and encrypt that data.
Dropbox – Dropbox is a great, free service for up to 2GB of storage. For less than $10/month you can get up to 1TB of storage, with more
OneDrive – Another free service is Microsoft OneDrive.
Google Drive – If you have a Gmail account, and almost all of us do, did you know you have up to 15GB of storage free at Google Drive?
Carbonite – Probably the most trusted version of cloud backup. Cost starts at $60/year for just one computer, with more available for multiple computers and networks.
Have You Backed Up Yet?
I’ve said this before, but what are you waiting for? Ransomware, malware, viruses and simple hardware failure is a totally real, and inevitable situation. You might even just be considering moving to a new computer or other device. Backing up and protecting your data will ensure the safety and easy recovery of files in case of emergency or simple migration if you buy a shiny new laptop.
Get started with a backup solution today. If you need some help or guidance on the road to protecting your data, contact BeBizzy Consulting and let’s get started.
Five or six years ago I read a post by Chris Brogan of Owner Media Group that had a way of distilling goals for the coming year down to three words. The goal was to provide a mission statement of sorts for how to manage your personal and professional life in three short words.
Every year I have done this exercise with varying degrees of success. Distractions found their way into the course of activity. Jobs were started or stopped, clients gained and lost… but this year is going to be different. For the first time in several years I have a fairly clear path laid out in front of me. BeBizzy Consulting is starting to pick up speed, BeLoud Entertainment is running like a well-oiled machine and my health is as good as it’s been in decades (where’s something wood to knock on?).
This year I’m putting more in stock for the three words. This year I am going to do everything I can to stay on the center line of this road.
So without further ado…
my three words.
Merriam-Webster : “the adhesive friction of a body on a surface on which it moves.”
I define traction as gaining momentum as previous efforts start to work. The website, social media channels, podcasts… everything is finally working together to move the BeBizzy machine.
Last year I picked up clients in Boston, LA and Minneapolis, and done podcasts with people as far away as Australia, to go along with my local clients In order to keep this train moving along the tracks, continuing the traction gained last year will only make everything work bigger, better and faster.
Merriam-Webster : “force or intensity of expression that gives impressiveness or importance to something.”
As with many small businesses I offered a large number of possible solutions to customers. But over time some have definitely emerged as areas of focus in the business. Of course website design and hosting, social media marketing and some operational offerings have been a constant. But I never saw podcast producing and support as being a bigger part of my business. So I will be scaling back on trying other services and focusing on what is working and is driving more business.
Merriam-Webster : “the field of study that deals mainly with methods of learning in schools”
Due to some health issues and time constraints, I have not put the time invested in the past on increasing learning in my fields of interest.
But, now that I have things running with some consistency, it’s time to continue educating myself in several areas including SEO (search engine optimization), WordPress security, and the mobile web.
So that’s it… traction, focus and education.
Seems easy enough to gain momentum towards a goal and get smarter during the process. I’m looking forward to getting there, and beyond, with your help, encouragement, and maybe a bit of constructive criticism along the way.
It’s amazing what can trigger a memory. Usually it’s a scent, travel to a previously familiar place, or even a song.
But today I was looking for something in our storage and uncovered… a football. Not a photo, a old piece of clothing, or even a scrap of paper indicating a major day in my life. A mini football.
This football really embodies an important period of my life, both personally and professionally. You see, this football was purchased, and first used as myself and a hundred or so others entered the world of tech support. We were briefly trained and set loose on supporting a major ISP’s dial-up (remember that?) and DSL internet service. It was my first real “professional” job in a string of being a retail and service industry employee.
It wasn’t my first brush with technology. I have been playing with, programming on, and fixing computers since my friend’s Apple II and my own Commodore 64 in the mid-80’s. Heck, I was a veteran of the internet by 1999 having been on BBS boards and basic ISP service since the early 90’s. I rose through the ranks fairly quickly becoming a TTL (tech lead) in just a few weeks, monitoring calls and coaching techs to get better. I was a technical trainer. I worked on the group’s website to get information out to technicians in three separate call centers. I manually, and eventually electronically developed a call routing system that made sure calls were sent to call centers with availability. I worked with Tier 2 (upper level techs) in the ISP’s headquarters to streamline the support process, even creating a tech group between first level technicians and Tier 2 to handle harder issues that didn’t need direct connection to critical infrastructure tools. And finally, I was reluctantly moved into a management position.
All of this happened in a short time, but that brief two-year job set the next 20 years into motion.
I hunt and play softball with one of my supervisors from this job. Another lives just a block or so up the street from me. I play volleyball with another co-worker. An Officer Cartman doll still sits on my shelf right above my laptop that patrolled my office, a gift from another employee. My next job was a COO (eventually) position managing and working with several people from my teams. Almost every position I’ve had since, regardless of the job type, had someone I either supervised, or worked with at that job. Some of the people I worked with have leadership positions in companies or other organizations, even political positions.
This little football represents so much. I’m still building websites. I’m still consulting on technical issues. I’m still using the internet as the primary tool for marketing and performing work. I even used the internet to listen to some 90’s music while writing this blog post.
The important takeaway today is you never know how the experiences from a current position will affect you in 10, 15, or even 20 years. I am back working with someone I haven’t done anything with in almost 15 years on a new project. I never expected THAT!
Use every project, job, encounter, whatever as a learning experience. Get better at what you do because of it. Get better of interacting with people because of it. That way, when you find your football again, all of those experiences, good and bad, will come back to you as well and make your personal and professional life better because of it.
Have a great holiday season, everyone, and here’s to a wonderful 2017!
♪♪ Ohhhh the weather outside is frightful, but the Bison are playing for a title. And I have places to go, but it’s too cold, it’s too cold, cold to snow.. ♪♪
Episode 23 – Dropbox Paper and the Why’s and How’s of Podcasting
Dropbox Paper was announced last week and I started playing with it. It’s a meeting management application that allows one to take notes, assign tasks, embed files and videos, and collaborate. Check it out.
Microphone : A decent microphone will cost less than $100 through Amazon. The one recommended by many of the podcasting experts is the Audio-Technical ATR2500-USB
Place to Host/Distribute Your Files : I use Podbean for it’s ease on submitting to iTunes and other resources.
Why Would I Podcat?
Works like a blog to get a message on your expertise out to the audience
It’s primarily passive. Most people listen while they are driving, working, exercizing or doing something else. Podcasts can even be downloaded automatically. Reading emails and blog posts requires an active participant.
Notes (like these) can be added and supply keywords and other items that Google is looking for when indexing the site.
You have a smartphone. Heck, you might even be reading this on a smartphone.
And we take these wonderful gadgets for granted. We shop on them, entertain ourselves on them, run our business communications on them, and some times we just waste time on them. But it’s rare that we’re ever happy with what we have because the next big thing is always six months away, right?
So with the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone almost upon us I thought it was a good time to compile a list of things I want in my next smartphone. All of the flagship phones from Samsung, Motorola, Google, and even Apple are close, but they always seem to have one or more things missing. I know, I know, there’s only so much space in these ever shrinking product profiles, but a guy can dream, right?
So here it is…
My 2017 Smartphone Wishlist
Screen size – I’ve always been a “bigger is better” fan, but the 5″ screen is really a sweet spot. However, knowing I need more space for battery and other stuff, I think we’ll need a 5.5″ screen. Besides, watching videos, reading emails and doing just about anything else is just better on a bigger, more colorful screen.
Battery Size : Speaking of battery, we need to find a way to get to 4000mAh batteries without causing heat or cramping of other stuff. We put a more powerful computer that I owned five years ago on my DESK, in my pocket, so the wizards at the battery company can find a way to do this. Also, why every phone doesn’t have wireless charging as an option is beyond my comprehension.
Camera : A really, really, really good rear facing camera. Like the one on the Pixel, good, camera. 15-20mp, image stabilization, low light correction, like the Google Pixel. If you want/need to cut corners on something do it on the front facing camera. I rarely use it for selfies, video or anything else, but we need a good main camera, like on the Google Pixel (did I hit that one home?).
Case : Drop proof, spill proof, not overly thin and not overly light. I like to feel like I have something made well, but not a brick.
Memory : Expandable memory!!! I am a mobile DJ and also run a web design and consulting business. I LOVE to have backups of my data, so if I can have all or most of my websites on my phone, and critical music to play at a wedding all saved on a memory card, life is good. Others could save critical documents, photos, notes, just about anything on their phones. As far as onboard memory, I think any phone needs to be at last 32GB going forward. We all have too many apps and other information to use an 16GB phone anymore, of course 64 is better, right?
Speakers : Stereo speakers are a must-have. The end.
Accessories : I am a big fan of the Moto Mods. The ability to easily snap on a JBL speaker to workout of sit around a fire outside, easily add extra battery without working with difficult cases, or adding a crazy-good camera to an already good camera is wonderful. Other manufacturers should take a look at this method as an option. I’m agnostic about the headphone port. Although the old ports worked well, the USB-C adapters or wireless headphones get the job done.
Well there you have it. Build this phone, keep it under $800 and make sure it safely goes about its job, and anything else you add to it is just fluff. I hear things like a possibly curved screen on coming iPhones, flip phone smartphones that hinge the screen in the middle, and even have seen phone attachments that project a touchable phone image on your arm. We’re at that point where, like cars, things are being added to the smartphone that are nice-to-haves, not needs. For those of us who rely on mobile computing to run businesses and other parts of our life, we just want the needs covered more reliably and for an acceptable cost.
What do YOU want on your next smartphone? Better selfie-cameras? A standard headphone jack? Let me know in the comments below or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter.
Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencing users, I received mobile devices with line of service from Verizon (#ad). No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own. By the way, we meet every Friday @ 2pm CT on Twitter to discuss mobile phones and how you can use them in your daily lives. Join us!
Oh sure, first another blizzard, and now I almost get sucked into a nut website scam?
Set BS detectors to stun!
EP22 – The Gacillia Nut Website Scam
I almost got taken by a scammer this week. I was approached, through text (?) by a gentleman who wanted a website built for his company based in Washington DC. I do some work with a company out of Boston, and also have had past clients out east, so this wasn’t totally out of left field. But something just didnt sound right. Below is the text sent to me…
“I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in and the company is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa so i need a best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible .http://www.agroamerica.com.… the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.”
James claimed to be hearing impared, so no phone conversation could be used. Now I know why. An internet search for Gacilla Nut revealed this scam IMMEDIATELY, right down to the exact copy of the contact email/text. Apparantly the next step will be to say the credit card won’t go through, and to provide him with a checking account number so he can transfer money. I think we all know what happens next.
So, I’ve deleted the invoice, and will kill the contract with James. If anything else happens, I’ll report back to you here.
UPDATE : I received the “can you do me a favor” email last night. See below:
“The favor is that I will send you my credit card to charge for the sum of $5,700.00 plus 3% Cc company charges, You will deduct $2,000.00 as deposit for the design of the website plus extra $200.00 as a tip for handling perfect work for me and you will send the remaining $3,500.00 to the project consultant that has the text content and the logo for my website so once he receive the $3,500.00 and you will have the money cash deposit to their account…. He would send the text content and logo needed for my website to you so work can start asap, Sending of funds would be after money clears into your account and you will be charging my card for remaining balance upon completion of work, Kindly get back to me so we can proceed with payment asap”
So the scam is apparently to get paid a large sum, pay his contracted graphic design guy most of it, then I’m guessing a chargeback for the initial payment to me, leaving me out the $3500 to his “project consultant.” Brilliant.
I reported this to the North Dakota Attorney General’s office and was basically told to cut off contact with “James.” Since it’s most likely international and been going on for several years, the likelihood of stopping this from happening again is slim. There is a website run by the federal government to report items like this, so I was given IC3.GOV to file a report.
In other news:
Fitbit bought Pebble watches. I’ve also heard that Pebble is now dead… I hope this isn’t true. My first smartwatch was a Pebble and I loved it.
I updated three sites to WordPress 4.7, which came out yesterday, with no issues. Hopefully this trend continues!
Well, we’re digging out from our first big blizzard of the 2016-2017 winter here in North Dakota, but that hasn’t stopped us work-from-home guys from getting stuff done.
And just to warm up a bit, I took the opportunity to talk to Sara Hawkins about some basic legal issues this week
Change Your Google Password (again) & Sara Hawkins
Googlian – a malware attack was found on over 1million Google accounts that came from compromised phones. For sure, change your password, and you may want to take other precautions if you feel your phone and account has been compromised.
Sara F. Hawkins joins the podcast today in the first of a series of interviews centering around why and when you would want to engage an attorney as a small or solo business owner.