Dear Clients and Friends,

john_bHappy fall! I hope that you are all doing well and have had a chance to enjoy the nice fall weather that we have had lately. This year certainly has flown by. It seems like just yesterday that we were making plans for 2013 and now we are fast approaching 2014!

I have a couple of things that I would like to share with you this month. I am sure that you are tired of hearing this, but please do not open email attachments unless you know for certain that they are legitimate. There is a scam going around where you receive an email with a zip file attached that looks perfectly normal. It might say something about a contract or some other business document. When you open it, it triggers a program that encrypts many of the files on your computer’s hard drive. The files that are stored on any network drive that you are mapped to will also be encrypted. It seems to encrypt Word, Excel and other Microsoft Office files as well as some pictures and other files. You receive a warning notice telling you that your personal files have been encrypted and that you must pay $300 within a certain time frame or your files will be locked forever. We have heard varying reports of success when this ransom is paid. At this time, there are tools to remove the malware and restore your files from your last good backup, but there is not a known decryption tool available. It seems to be able to slip past many anti-virus programs. Below is an example of what you might see on an infected PC.

Cryptolocker01This is a real threat, so please be extremely careful about opening attachments that you are not 100% sure about. If you are in doubt, contact the person that sent it to you to verify that they actually did send it. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Please make sure that you are getting a good data backup. If you should get attacked by this, please give us a call before you attempt any type of removal.

As most of you are already aware, Microsoft has announced that it will stop all support for Windows XP in April of 2014. What does this mean? Does it mean that Windows XP will stop working in April? No, but it does mean that Microsoft will no longer supply security patches and updates for the Windows XP product. This will make Windows XP a prime target for hackers and virus authors. Currently, Microsoft writes patches to close any vulnerability that is discovered in their products. This service will stop after support is discontinued. As great a product as Windows XP is, we are advising our clients to upgrade to a newer, safer operating system. After April, Windows XP will not meet the requirements that make it compliant with HIPPA and many other standards.

We have several interesting articles for you in this month’s newsletter. I hope that you find them informative and useful. As always, please feel free to call our office at 205-980-9903 with any computer questions that you might have. We are here to serve you. Until next month….

John Browning
Cahaba Valley Computer Services, LLC

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