Archive for Backup Solutions

Visa Crash In Europe Causes ‘Cash Only’ Chaos

On Friday 1st from 2.30pm, a Europe-wide system failure at Visa that left shoppers embarrassed as their card payments were declined and stores switched to ‘cash only’.

Not Just Visa Customers

To make matters worse, because a range of different banks and other financial institutions use Visa’s payment system, even those making transactions using non-Visa branded cards were affected and were unable to make purchases.

The problem was compounded by the fact that it happened at a time when many people were leaving work on a Friday. There have also been reports circulating that even if some card purchases were declined, the money may still have been taken from accounts, and customers have been urged to check.

What Happened?

There are no precise details as to the reason for the system crash other than Visa’s explanation as a “hardware failure”.
Visa has also been quick to announce that it has no reason to believe that the system crash was associated with any unauthorised access or malicious events.

ATMs Still Working in UK

In the UK, although many customers found themselves in extremely awkward situations e.g. unable to pay for meals or petrol, customers were still able to take cash out of ATMs (if there was one nearby). This led to large queues forming at ATMs in towns and cities across the country.

Queues

Whereas many customers faced the embarrassment and inconvenience of having their cards declined in shops across Europe, others found themselves being forced to wait in queues because of the disruption. For example, in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, it was reported that Primark customers had to queue for 20 minutes to pay, and staff were unable to note the reasons why transactions were failing. Also, it was reported that the Visa system failure caused a 45 minute wait for those trying to use the Severn Bridge as drivers were unable to pay the toll by card.

Anger

Not surprisingly, many people took to social media to vent their anger at Visa for the embarrassment and inconvenience caused. In Spain, the Guardia Civil tried to calm and re-assure people by sending a tweet urging everyone to stay calm, and used a picture of Captain Jack Sparrow to help explain that if they couldn’t pay, it wasn’t because they had been robbed or hacked.
Visa has apologised, and has stated that its payment system is operating at “full capacity”.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Even though the problems only lasted a day, it is only a matter of weeks since TSB’s catastrophic computer meltdown caused misery to customers after the bank tried to migrate its computer systems from its old Lloyds Bank systems to its new core banking system, Proteo4UK.

We are now a society that is moving away from cash, in favour of cards and particularly contactless payments. Also, this move away from cash has meant the closing of many ATMs. Both of these factors mean that system failures of this kind can be particularly disruptive.

For businesses, customers not being able to pay meant that profits were hit, their premises experienced disruption with some staff being left to face angry customers, and unable to offer a clear explanation.

The incident has, no doubt, also illustrated to any potential hackers how interconnected payment systems are across Europe and how many countries could be brought to a virtual standstill if they were able to breach the systems of major payment processing companies such as Visa.

Why You Should Prioritise Window XP Over Heartbleed

In the last couple of weeks we’ve covered both Heartbleed and Windows XP stopping their security updates and they are both pretty serious issues that need addressing.

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However, Heartbleed has managed to achieve a substantial amount of media attention at just the wrong time, with people prioritising the issue and ignoring the fact that Windows XP is still widely being used.

Ultimately, it seems quite surprising that news channels and other media outlets would brand Heartbleed as such an important vulnerability when Windows XP could pose much more of a threat.

The problem is that Heartbleed’s consequences became apparent instantaneously, with the words “credit cards” and “passwords” making front page news.

On the other hand, April 8th brought about little visible changes in the operations of Windows XP despite security updates disappearing.

It’s clear that, without visible threats, people are prepared to take risks. They might have spent the entire weekend backing up files preparing for Heartbleed but completely forgot that all of this was happening on their Windows XP PC.

The crux of this post is that Heartbleed mustn’t act as a cloak that covers up the true threat of continually using Windows XP. Hackers are far more likely to be preparing for future flaws in Windows XP than wasting their time with a glitch in OpenSSL.

The longer you decide to stick with Windows XP, the bigger the risk. It’s something that can’t be changed and won’t get better, so make this your top priority if you’re worried about online security!

 

Heartbleed – What Is It and What Should You Do?

Chances are you’ve been made aware of the threat posed by a rather troublesome online bug titled “Heartbleed”. Before you start rushing frantically about the office wondering if you need to sort out your antivirus settings or possibly even protect your bank account details, here’s where Google and other major online companies are at so far with regards to this worrying development.

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Heartbleed came to light a couple of weeks back after OpenSSL (a piece of software that deals with security purposes throughout the web) was compromised through one of its built-in features, known widely as heartbeat. Heartbeat exchanges data between website and PC to give your computer assurance that the site is active. Whilst the feature should only ever send back the same amount of data as it receives, hackers have found a way of requesting increased amounts of data that could potentially include passwords, cookies, logins and other personal information.

It’s understood that just under 20% of internet servers have the heart bleed bug, which is a scary amount despite the fact that this figure had been inflated in the past to as much as 60% of all servers. Whilst OpenSSL has since been patched, it’s important that you do change your passwords for the services that have been affected. Google was affected but has since been fixed, though you should still look to change your passwords as soon as possible.

Don’t panic. The chances of hackers getting hold of your personal information through heart bleed are incredibly small, so all you have to do is take the necessary precautions and keep up to date with what’s going on.

An irritating “pop-up” or a seriously bad infection?

We have come across numerous infections on Windows computers recently which are hoax warnings about nasty things happening on your computer. They are generally of the form “you have x,y or z infection on your computer. Pay £xxx to install our software to fix your problem”. In reality the only infection is the one telling you that you have an infection! Over recent months we have seen infections which are much worse and need to be taken very seriously.

Essentially this nastier type of infection creates then warns about a very real and potentially damaging Cryptolockerproblem. One variant is known as “Cryptolocker” and informs the user that all (user data) files have been encrypted and cannot be accessed without an encryption key. This key will be deleted in x hours (initially 72) unless the key is paid for at a price of around 300 euros. The sting with this infection is that it is not just a threat, you will find your files aren’t accessible and this will include files you have “write” access to on a server as well as your local desktop or laptop. We have heard of cases where the ransom was paid and file access restored but there is no guarantee. These aren’t nice people and who is to say you won’t find the same stunt pulled a few weeks later?

Good security software is one layer of protection you must have but it is essential to have a good, business-grade backup system in place too. Without a backup of your files you could find you lose everything. In examples we have seen, the damage was limited to Microsoft Office files and PDFs. This is one of those times you find out how good your backup mechanism is. We strongly recommend you are backing up everything that you need, including several generations of files, not just one.

Just to reiterate, you only need one user with access to all your company documents on a server to catch this infection and you have potentially lost everything. It’s that serious.

How might you catch this type of infection? We have seen it come in as an email attachment, allegedly from a UK bank. The email seems to look genuine except it has a very short message in it. The attachment is a ZIP file that appears to contain a Word or PDF document. Most people will realise it’s a fake, but if you are in a hurry and it appears to be from your own bank there is a risk of taking a quick peek at the attachment, so be really careful.

If ever you’re worried, call the experts! Get in touch with Pronetic today and let us assess your online security needs.

Making the Most of Your New Mac Pro

If you’ve been lucky enough to get your hands on the irresistibly powerful Mac Pro since its release, you might be aware of its capabilities with third-party additions and various other upgrades.

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It’s important to remember that upgrading a computer yourself can contribute towards hardware failure and file corruption if carried out incorrectly, so getting hold of business backup solutions can keep parts of your IT infrastructure protected. Here are some of the useful upgrades you can make to improve the efficiency of your Mac Pro in the office.

There are some excellent storage devices out there that can really enhance the storage capacity of your Mac Pro, as it is ultimately a machine that focuses on power rather than storage. The Buffalo DriveStation DDR has 3 TB storage capacities and is one of the fastest external drives on the market. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, the IoSafe Solo G3 is great for backing up files and also boasts 3 TB of storage.

You can upgrade the memory in this device to as much as 128GB of RAM as well as being able to enhance the CPU, though it ultimately comes down to your budget!

Considering upgrading your own hardware? Come and talk to us about IT equipment leasing, as you may find your business is better off leasing the latest capable equipment rather than spending big on an initial purchase. Get in touch to find out more.