Ransomware attacks grew 600% in 2016, costing businesses $1B

Ransomware experienced explosive growth last year, with businesses and individuals losing more than $1 billion to retrieve their encrypted information.

Ransomware dominated the cyberthreat landscape in 2016, increasing more than 600% over 2015, according to a new report from PhishMe.

PhishMe analyzed more than 2,500 phishing attacks in 2016 to determine the tools and techniques most frequently used by cybercriminals. Ransomware including Locky, Creber, and TeslaCrypt grew rapidly, though other forms of malware designed to steal information also remained popular.

Ransomware tools were used in 90% of all collected malware payload URLs identified by PhishMe throughout 2016, leading to estimated losses of more than $1 billion, the report found. And, as delivery methods grew more sophisticated in Q4 2016, enterprises should expect ransomware attacks to continue to evolve this year, the report stated.

Despite this growth, a large portion of phishing attacks recorded in 2016 came through older malware methods—such as remote access trojans or keyloggers—showing that many cybercriminals remain committed to using more traditional tools to steal private information, the report stated.

“While the spread of ransomware tools dominated industry discussions in 2016, threat actors remained committed to their tried-and-true techniques,” said Aaron Higbee, cofounder and CTO of PhishMe, in a press release. “In addition to focusing on the ‘smash and grab’ of ransomware, threat actors also continue to quietly infiltrate the target’s environment, thus making it increasingly important to detect malware during the delivery phase. This challenges the traditional sense of malware hunting.”

Though ransomware made headlines after large scale attacks on hospitals, schools, and other organizations, attacks known as “quiet malware” were also prevalent. These types of attacks allow cybercriminals to watch the victim over a period of time, assessing their ability to pay a ransom and what amount they can ask for, before deploying the ransomware.

These tools demonstrate how hackers are evolving their techniques to get around traditional security protections, the report noted.

 Enterprises can avoid ransomware attacks by keeping all software up to date, backing up information every day, segmenting their network, and training staff on cybersecurity practices.


Windows Vista support is ending

Windows Vista support is ending

What is Windows Vista end of support?

After April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft. Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.

What happens if I continue to use Windows Vista?


If you continue to use Windows Vista after support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Internet Explorer 9 is no longer supported, so if your Windows Vista PC is connected to the Internet and you use Internet Explorer 9 to surf the web, you might be exposing your PC to additional threats. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter more apps and devices that do not work with Windows Vista.


Microsoft has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows Vista. If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you’ll continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time. However, please note that Microsoft Security Essentials (or any other antivirus software) will have limited effectiveness on PCs that do not have the latest security updates. This means that PCs running Windows Vista will not be secure and will still be at risk for virus and malware.


How do I know if I’m running Windows Vista?

To find out if you’re running Windows Vista, follow these steps:

  1. Click theStart

button, and then type winver in the search box.

  1. Double-click winverin the list of results to open the About Windows dialog box, where you’ll see the version of Windows that your PC is running.


Do I need to get Windows 10 to stay protected?

Yes, the best way to stay protected is to get Windows 10, which is the latest version of Windows. You have two ways to get Windows 10:


Upgrade your current PC

You can purchase a full version of Windows 10, but you should first make sure that your computer can run it. Very few older computers are able to run Windows 10. We recommend that you check out the Windows 10 specifications page to find out if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 10. For more detailed information, read the FAQ.


Get a new PC

If your current PC can’t run Windows 10, it might be time to consider shopping for a new one. Be sure to explore our great selection of new PCs. They’re more powerful, lightweight, and stylish than ever before—and with an average price that’s considerably less expensive than the average PC was 10 years ago.


Move your files, folders, and more

Microsoft has partnered with Laplink to bring you PCmover Express—a tool for transferring selected files, folders, and more from your old Windows PC to your new Windows 10 PC.

Should the latest AWS outage make you reconsider the Cloud?

On Tuesday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) experienced outage-like issues with its S3 cloud storage, taking some business customers offline and causing slowdowns for others.

AWS has existed for longer than a lot of us realize—S3 is the oldest iteration of it, and it’s been around since 2006. Downtimes are rare in the public cloud, and any interruption can seem like the end of the internet as we know it.

One look at Twitter and you’ll find countless people who are locked out of essential services: IFTTT was completely knocked offline, Slack was decidedly less chatty, and other East Coast businesses were suffering severe slowdowns and lag times.

Amazon hasn’t called this error an outage, saying instead that it was an error rate issue that was simply causing massive slowdowns. If all of this is bringing back memories of the 2015 AWS outage you might be rethinking business in the public cloud.

99.99% uptime

Amazon’s stated S3 uptime goal is 99.99%, also known as “four nines,” which equates to around an hour of downtime per year, according to Dave Bartoletti, public cloud analyst at Forrester Research. Instead of downtime, though, Bartoletti said we need to think about S3’s actual uptime.

“S3 has consistently outperformed the four nines they shoot for, year over year,” Bartoletti said. He also added that the 2015 AWS outage wasn’t even S3.

AWS, Bartoletti said, is the perfect example of cloud done right. “This isn’t a normal incident, nor do we see any indication that the public cloud is becoming unreliable,” Bartoletti said. “It’s simply a hiccup.”

Should you still reconsider?

Outages like this one may be short, but that doesn’t mean they don’t result in lost revenue. Some e-commerce sites and companies that rely on visitors to earn revenue simply can’t make money if no one can reliably access their site.

Does that mean the public cloud is immature, unstable, or simply not a good idea? So, how should a company approach a move to the public cloud?

There’s no doubt that practically every company should have a cloud strategy, however Amazon’s outage has proven the Public Cloud is not the be-all and end-all solution for all companies. If your entire company’s business operations were dependent on solely Public Cloud services, how much would this outage have cost your business? Food for thought.

At PCe, we have recently launched our own Private Cloud in a highly redundant Data Centre which serves as an excellent component of an overall Cloud Strategy. Contact us today to learn how a Private Cloud could be a game-changer for your company’s cloud strategy.