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Telesys Voice and Data Blog

Telesys Voice and Data has been serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area since 1994, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Ransomware Shuts Down Doctors’ Office - Is Your Business Protected?

Ransomware Shuts Down Doctors’ Office - Is Your Business Protected?

Let me ask you a question… let’s say that you’re about one year from your projected retirement, when a ransomware attack encrypts all of your files. What do you do? Pack it in and retire early? This is precisely the situation that the practitioners of Brookside ENT & Hearing Services of Battle Creek, Michigan, have found themselves in - and it may not be over yet.

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A Ransomware Cyberattack Struck Atlanta, Georgia

A Ransomware Cyberattack Struck Atlanta, Georgia

Ransomware doesn’t discriminate with its targets, as the city of Atlanta, Georgia now knows so painfully well. The city became the target of a ransomware attack that crippled many of its critical system workflows. The municipal government suffered from one of the most advanced and sustained attacks in recent memory.

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A New Perspective on Ransomware

A New Perspective on Ransomware

We are going to switch things up a bit and walk you through a retelling of a ransomware attack through the eyes of a business owner. Usually when we talk about these types of threats, we approach it from our perspective and talk about what you should do to prepare and what the threats are, but we wanted to try to show you what an event like this could feel like, for you, in your position, and in your own eyes. We hope that this will raise awareness of how crippling an event like this can be on your company, and we hope you let us know if this perspective helps you, your colleagues, and your staff get a more personal sense of what ransomware can do. Enjoy!


What a day it has been!

Typically, when I have a day like I just had, I wouldn’t sit here and write about it, but since our story is sure to help people, I thought that I should. Besides, my adrenaline is still pumping, and I don’t think I can sleep yet anyway.

The day I had was terrifying but started just like any other. I got through my morning routine and made my way to the office. I even stopped at the shoppe to get coffee. Once I entered the building I knew something was wrong. I had two employees beat me to the office. They were milling around almost aimlessly in the hallway. Before I even reached my desk, I was inundated with bad news.

“We are locked out!”
“What are we supposed to do?”

After getting past my employees into my office, I tried to ascertain what the problem was. It was evident very quickly that we had a major problem on our hands.

@!#?! It’s ransomware! I can’t believe it!

It could only be ransomware.

I wasn’t sure what allowed this to happen. Did one of my staff click on a bad link? Was our network vulnerable from the get go? Since the ransomware had spread onto the network, I could tell that the affected computer had to be used to manage other endpoints, pushing ransomware to all the endpoints the terminal had managed. This is why the computers that were on the network had the same message. This means that it ended up stealing usernames and passwords to open each endpoint and lock down the data on them.

It is during this period that the entity that unleashed this beast on us would look to take as much data as they could. It turned out that my company was using a global password configuration and the ransomware spread throughout our network like wildfire. So, when I was met with the message, I knew exactly what I was dealing with.

I never for a second thought that it would happen to us. Our business doesn’t deal with major financial institutions or medical records, so it would seem to keep us safe from these kinds of security breaches. I guess I’m just the latest person to ask, “why us?”

For those who don’t know, ransomware is any type of malicious application that “kidnaps” the data and holds it for ransom. It can shut down the files of a single computer, or in our experience, it can spread over the network to several endpoints; effectively shutting down operations for long stretches of time. I wanted to share my experience to help you know what to expect if you are one of the unfortunate business owners that have to have all the answers.

Don’t Panic
No matter how prepared you are for something like this, at first, you feel panic. Typically, you are immediately overwhelmed and are left kind of dumbfounded, glancing around the room, looking for answers that aren’t there. Regrettably, if you are doing that, the damage is done and there is nothing you can do about that. Scenarios race by in your head and the more they turn negative, the more the fear builds up in the base of your neck, in your throat, or in the pit of your stomach. You need to stay as calm as you can and begin troubleshooting immediately. The thing about ransomware is you can’t just wait it out. Once that wave of fear subsides, you have to make a measured response, because you likely have people that are on the clock, and an IT infrastructure that is locked down.

After the initial shock, I went to work.

ransomware ib

Fighting Ransomware
I learned quickly that there are two main types of ransomware:

  • Locker - Malware that locks the computer or device.
  • Crypto - Malware that encrypts data and files.

The type we were unfortunate enough to encounter was WannaCry, a crypto ransomware that has infected millions of people worldwide by taking advantage of an unpatched Windows vulnerability. As a small business, our technology management was pieced together, but after this event, and all we’ve learned from it, we will definitely be sure to make our staff cognizant of how to avoid situations like this.

For us, we had three machines infected with a variant of WannaCry. The ransomware stated that if we pay $300 in Bitcoin for every machine that was locked, we could get our data back... and the clock was ticking, literally.

At that point, we had three options. We could abandon the machines and buy new ones, we could pay the hackers that had encrypted our data, or, we could attempt to restore our systems.

Part of me wanted nothing more than to just abandon the machines, bust our IT budget for the year and be done with it. We instead decided to try to restore the machines to a prior version, because paying the hackers was never a real option. First of all, any person that could inflict this kind of fresh hell on a small business was not to be trusted; and, I felt if I were to pay the ransom, there was no guarantee that we would a) get our files back; or, b) not get harassed again by the same people.

Since cost was a factor, we reached out the IT professionals at Telesys Voice and Data, and they walked us through the process of restoring our terminal and the two machines connected to it. Luckily for us, they had the knowledge and expertise to help us get through this horrible time. We will lose quite a bit of work, but, as of right now, it looks like we are going to come out of this whole thing much better than the majority of companies that have dealt with it.

I know we were lucky. I know we have to try harder. I know we aren’t out of the woods just yet, but I have to thank the people at Telesys Voice and Data. They really came through for us!

Ransomware attacks are rampant. If your small business isn’t proactive about its network security and if you don’t train your people on what to look for, you could be dealing with a problem that could potentially sink your business. For more information about ransomware, WannaCry, or other threats your organization faces today, call us today at (800) 588-4430.

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What the Future Holds for Ransomware

What the Future Holds for Ransomware

Ransomware is a growing problem for businesses, being one of the most difficult threats to remove from an infrastructure. Not only is it easy to spread, but difficult to avoid as a whole. How can your organization prepare for this threat? It starts by being mindful of how ransomware is spread and how your employees react to it, both now and in the future.


Ransomware locks down files on your business’ infrastructure. Through ransomware, it’s easy to cripple a business by limiting access to important information or files located on an infrastructure. If the user fails to pay the ransom, they risk losing their data for good. Even if they do pay the ransom, there’s no guarantee that the hacker will give up the encryption key. The user is presented with a conundrum; pay up for a potential to get your data back or ignore the request and hope for the best.

Ransomware was primarily spread through the use of spam when it was first introduced to the online environment. Hackers would create ransomware campaigns to spread it to as many users as possible, hoping that any number of them would choose to pay up rather than lose access to their precious files. As time went on, however, ransomware became used in a more targeted fashion. Rather than claim as many targets as possible, hackers instead chose to go after only those who were most likely to pay up with spear phishing tactics designed to fool even the most stalwart and mindful user. In many cases, these targeted attempts were made against businesses, whom value data more than the average end user might.

These spear phishing attempts are incredibly difficult to identify for the untrained eye, and the amount of damage they could inflict on your company is untold. Your employees need to be able to identify potential ransomware threats. Even the cautious approach might not be enough, however, as the future of ransomware could potentially hold even more dangerous threats. Already, hackers are taking advantage of threats that can be purchased on the online black market, including ransomware threats, vulnerabilities, and even lists of targets. How can a small business protect themselves from such a prominent threat?

It all starts by remaining as mindful of security best practices as often as possible. By this, we mean trusting no suspicious message in your inbox without first double-checking any information found in it. If you receive an unsolicited message with an attachment claiming to be a resume, bank statement, shipping information, or anything else that seems out of place, think twice before downloading them. The same can be said for any links that cannot be verified as secured.

Is your business prepared to handle the next generation of ransomware? While we don’t know what the future holds, we know that you can confidently face it with security services from Telesys Voice and Data. To learn more, reach out to us at (800) 588-4430.

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Targeted Ransomware Checks for Particular Attributes

Targeted Ransomware Checks for Particular Attributes

Put yourself in the shoes of a cybercriminal. If you were to launch a ransomware attack, who would be your target? Would you launch an indiscriminate attack to try to snare as many as you could, or would you narrow your focus to be more selective? As it happens, real-life cybercriminals have largely made the shift to targeted, relatively tiny, ransomware attacks.

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30 Schools Shut Down In Montana After Cyber Attack

30 Schools Shut Down In Montana After Cyber Attack

Students generally love it when classes are cancelled for whatever reason, but thanks to a cybercriminal group called TheDarkOverlord Solutions, a school in Flathead Valley, Montana was disrupted for an extended period of time. This downtime resulted in a disruption of operations for over 30 schools, as well as the threat to the personal information of countless teachers, students, and administrators due to a ransomware attack.

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Don’t Be Snagged by This Google Calendar Phishing Scam

Don’t Be Snagged by This Google Calendar Phishing Scam

When it comes to Internet threats, ransomware is the one that causes the most fear, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, as it should. According to the Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report, ransomware is growing at a yearly rate of 350%. It’s time to make sure that you’re doing what you can to stop your business from becoming another ransomware statistic. Here’s five very good tips that will help you avoid becoming a victim of the next big ransomware attack!

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How do you want your business phone system communications deployed?

Ransomware is a tricky piece of malware that locks down the precious files located on a victim’s computer, then (in theory) will return access to them when a ransom has been paid. Depending on the files stored on a victim’s computer, they might simply blow it off and not worry too much about losing access to a couple of pictures or videos--but what if this ransomware threatened to expose your web browsing history?

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Tip of the Week: Choosing the Right Storage for Your Business

Tip of the Week: Choosing the Right Storage for Your Business

On May 11th, 2017, the world was introduced to the WannaCry ransomware. The ransomware spread around the globe like wildfire, infecting hundreds of thousands of devices and catching many major organizations and businesses by surprise. The full extent of the ransomware’s damage is still being assessed, yet, one thing we do know: this whole fiasco was preventable.

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Tip of the Week: 11 Technology Buzzwords Every SMB Should Know

Tip of the Week: 11 Technology Buzzwords Every SMB Should Know

Run your Windows Updates and be very skeptical about opening unsolicited emails. Failure to do so may result in a very dangerous strain of ransomware that could infect your entire network and spread to your clients, partners, and prospects.

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Give Your Server Units Some TLC

Give Your Server Units Some TLC

2016 saw many notorious data breaches, along with developments in malware and other threats to security. It’s always helpful to reflect on these developments so that the knowledge can be used in the future to aid in developing new strategies for taking on the latest threats. How will your business learn from the mistakes of others in 2017?

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FREE Printout: IT Security End-User Checklist

FREE Printout: IT Security End-User Checklist

This guide was created so that business owners, office managers, and IT departments can provide it as an educational resource to showcase some of the most basic IT security practices that can be implemented in your workplace. We recommend printing this out and handing it out to your staff for maximum results.

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The G Suite Just Got Smarter

The G Suite Just Got Smarter

With the recent overhaul of Google’s G Suite productivity software products comes a new way to keep your business’ data secure. We’ll go over some of the major changes introduced in the updates, including the integration of artificial intelligence.

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How Safe is Your Email?

How Safe is Your Email?

Email is (and has been) a prime method of communication for businesses of all sizes. With email comes a whole slew of issues that are essentially synonymous with the technology; spam, information overload, phishing, and information privacy. Even Texas small businesses that only do business locally are at risk of these issues. Personal email accounts are equally at risk. Employing proper precautions and practices whenever communicating via email is very important to prevent the risk of security compromises, monetary loss, and even legality issues.

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Tip of the Week: How Bandwidth Works (and Why It Matters)

Tip of the Week: How Bandwidth Works (and Why It Matters)

Businesses require a lot of their Internet connections, especially if they’re using technologies like VoIP, screen-sharing, and/or webinar platforms. If you’re looking to incorporate these features, you need to be sure you have enough bandwidth to support them. We’re looking at a few reasons that your bandwidth matters, and how to tell if you have enough for your needs.

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Technology Concerns Heading Into 2020

Technology Concerns Heading Into 2020

For most businesses, technology has a major role in what they do. They use it in all manners of ways, but there is no question that it has become a driving force for business. As the calendar flips to a new decade, we thought that it would be good to take a look at what the 2010s brought us, and what to expect in the 2020s. 

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