Category

Apple

Old Mac malware gets a facelift

By | Apple, Managed Service, Managed Technology, MSP, Security

In yet another sign that Apple computers are no longer being ignored by hackers, a successful piece of Windows-based malware has been rewritten for MacOS. Instead of encrypting data and holding it for ransom, OSX.Dok skips the extortion and simply steals your bank account information. Read on to learn what you can do to prevent an infection.

OSX.Dok isn’t new, but it has been improved

Originally, this Mac-based malware looked very different. When OSX.Dok was first reported several months ago, it could infect only older versions of the Apple operating system. Besides being relegated to OS X, it didn’t do much more than simply spy on the internet history of its victims. More recently, however, OSX.Dok was updated to target the newer macOS and to steal banking information.

How does it work?

Like so many malware programs today, this particular threat is distributed via phishing emails. Because the end goal is to acquire private financial information, these emails pretend to have pressing information about taxes or bank statements stored in attachments that actually contain malicious software.

Once any of these attachments are opened, OSX.Dok secretly broadcasts information about the computer and its location to the malware’s authors. Based on that information, hackers can redirect victims that visit banking websites to copycat URLs tailored to their language and location. Almost everything on the copycat sites looks exactly the same, but when you submit your user ID and password, they go straight to hackers.

Worst of all, the latest version of this malware seems to be incredibly advanced. It actively changes the way it hides itself and even modifies system settings to keep the computer from checking for operating system and security updates.

What can I do?

Security experts are still working on a way to combat OSX.Dok, but believe that it will remain a problem for some time to come. For now there are a few things you can do:

Never open attachments from people you don’t know personally, and even then be wary of anything you weren’t expecting.
Pay attention to little details. For example, copyright dates at the bottom of fake banking sites only went to 2013.
Look closely at the lock to the left of URLs in your address bar. Fake websites may have security certificates with names slightly different from those of the sites they mimic.

The best way to stay ahead of threats like OSX.Dok is by partnering with a capable IT provider. That way you can be sure that you have all the latest software and hardware to keep you safe. Even if something managed to slip through, regular audits are sure to find infections sooner than an overburdened in-house team would. Call Simpatico today at 855-476-6347  to find out how we can protect you!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Amazon phones to become a reality soon

By | Android, Apple, Managed Service, Managed Technology, VoIP

Amazon is setting its sights on the VoIP market again and will use its Alexa technology to launch a new phone system. Based on a new patent, users of Amazon’s artificial intelligence (AI) devices might soon be able to enjoy a smart speaker and phone in one. This won’t be the eCommerce giant’s first attempt at launching a wireless phone system, but this time it seems that they’re taking the time to develop the technology. Read on to find out more.

How it works

Amazon’s 3D-enabled Fire Phone was its first attempt at launching a smartphone, but it failed to set the mobile phone market ablaze. Based on the company’s recent voice-controlled phone patent, they are developing a smarter and more practical wireless phone technology, which will be integrated into their successful smart speaker devices, Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show.

The system will work by linking a mobile number to the Alexa devices, which would have a mechanism for notifying the user of incoming calls, answering calls via the smart speaker itself, as well as placing calls by giving commands to Alexa. What makes the Alexa-powered devices a compelling phone system is its ability to identify users based on a voice recognition system already built into the devices.

Note, however, that the mobile carrier would still be providing the communication service, with the Alexa device serving only as a medium, which is how most VoIP communications works.

What it means for your business

Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices are attractive for their voice-control technology. Although they did not pioneer it, they integrated it with devices that allowed them to go beyond what other AI devices can do. The Echo Dot, for instance, is especially useful to those who use a variety of Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices, such as lights, switches, and TVs, to name just a few.

Its voice recognition capabilities are also a cut above the rest, being able to recognize voice and adopt your speech patterns the more you use it. It can also serve as an all-around assistant in a room or in any office setting, helping you check the weather, send a message, or provide calendar event updates.

As Amazon develops its voice recognition technology for its Alexa-powered phones, it can be expected that this same technology would make it a formidable home or office phone system that can easily find contacts, screen callers, or conveniently set up conference calls — all by voice command. But as of now, Amazon’s patent is in the early stages of development.

There are plenty of communication options for your business, and although there’s nothing quite like the Alexa phones yet, there are plenty of viable substitutes that can suit your business’s communication needs. Call us today for VoIP option recommendations.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Apple iOS 11: Focus on enterprise users

By | Apple, Managed Service, Managed Technology, MSP

The iPad was originally created for individual consumers even though it was later adopted as a viable productivity tool. After several functionality and style changes, Apple has finally released an iPad that could rival the PC: the iPad Pro. The latest update in Apple’s lineup of tablet computers is a vast departure from previous iPad devices, and with the recently announced changes in the upcoming iOS 11, the company looks poised to shift its focus from individual to enterprise users.

From mobile to desktop

Apple’s iOS platform was originally designed for mobile devices, but the company is making its mobile operating system more desktop-friendly. In the upcoming iOS 11, users can expect a user interface (UI) that’s very similar to a Mac desktop UI with substantial capabilities like multi-tasking, which will allow users to view programs in a split/slide view.

The Files app for iOS will be particularly useful for businesses that use various cloud storage platforms such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. With this handy new app in iOS 11, all files can be accessed, downloaded, and shared within one single platform using your iPad. This app will be very similar to the Finder folder in Mac.

Other notable features

Aside from the multi-tasking capability and the Files app, the new enterprise user-friendly OS will provide users with Drag and Drop capability — previously unavailable to iPad. Instead of having all apps displayed on the screen, users can now enjoy a docking system that Mac users will find familiar. Existing Apple enterprise users will find the new iOS more in-tune with their needs, as switching from one device to another will be more seamless.

What businesses can expect

Whether Apple’s major redesign will be enough to convince non-iOS device users to switch is yet to be determined. It’s also uncertain whether more enterprise tools can be expected from later versions. What’s certain is that Apple has introduced enhancements to the iPad Pro that are significant enough to make it a formidable choice as a standalone enterprise computer.

Many businesses already use an iPad in the workplace, and with these enhancements, integration of mobile and desktop functionality will be more seamless across all Apple devices. This may also prove to be a significant shift for the iPad from being a secondary computing device that displays content to being a primary computer that’s used for creating content.

Apple has always been focused on individual preferences rather than an entire market segment. But with the iOS 11, it is enterprise users who have the most to look forward to. If you need intelligent recommendations on device and usability features on both mobile and desktop devices, call us today at 855.476.6347.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

How 5G data will change VoIP

By | Android, Apple, Google, Managed Service, Managed Technology, MSP, Office, VoIP

Our craving for data seems to increase every year, fueling the constant advancements in wireless technology. The latest is 5G, an abbreviation for the fifth-generation wireless systems, and it is set to transform VoIP for the better. Here are three ways it will do that.

Improved video conferencing
The major factor holding web and video conferencing back is how fast current networks can transmit data. Fortunately, innovations like Web Real-Time-Communications (WebRTC) and 5G networks will enhance VoIP for businesses. Providing open and stable streaming as well as sufficient transfer speeds will soon allow businesses to accommodate higher quality, even 4K and 8K resolution videos.

Virtual and Augmented Reality
With 5G network speeds, virtual and augmented reality will become more common for small- and medium-sized businesses. 5G will blow past 4G’s Gbps (gigabits per second) limit, which is currently holding back the adoption of VR and AR applications.

VR and AR need to process significantly more visual data because of the freedom of movement they allow, and this puts an enormous strain on mobile networks. 5G is also set to ensure a better user experience by lowering latency levels that simplify and smoothen daily business operations, preventing network delays from affecting your bottom line.

Mobile VoIP
VoIP calls rely heavily on sufficient download and upload speeds. For example, when mobile VoIP users on 4G networks are limited to 12Mbps upload and 2Mbps download speeds, they experience unstable and poor call connectivity and clarity. These limitations could also lead to packet loss, which happens when one or more “packets” of data traveling across a computer network fail to reach their destination, typically caused by network congestion.

When businesses decide to adopt the up-and-coming 5G network, businesses can expect to see significant improvements when it comes to VoIP. Ensure the success of your SMB with increased network speeds, better call quality and conversations with consistent connectivity. If you’re looking to set up a VoIP system for your business, call or email us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Android features you won’t find in iOS 11

By | Android, Apple

Apple’s iOS 11 will be released later this year, but many Android users might not willingly trade in their device for an iPhone. Even with its key productivity features like Files, drag-and-drop functionality, a more enterprise-friendly user interface, and sleek new design changes, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system is missing a few important tools that many Android users can’t live without.

Multiple profiles

Android devices allow users to create multiple user profiles — ideal for company devices shared among staff. This feature is also great for privacy because it lets users create an individual profile and password, so there’s no need to worry about important files and apps in the device being compromised. This feature is something iOS 11 should have included since multiple user functionality is commonly found in desktops environments, which is what it is trying to emulate.

Customization

In the upcoming iOS 11 release, iPad users can expect improvements in design. What they shouldn’t expect to find are features that will enable customizations much beyond personalizing their home screen wallpaper. Adjusting the color settings, fonts, and themes are capabilities Android device users have been enjoying for years, but Apple users will have to wait for later iOS releases to enjoy the same.

Screen search

In an Android device, tapping the “What’s on my screen?” button in Google Assistant lets a user search for info on whatever’s “on-screen.” It returns results pertaining to whatever the user is looking at on his or her screen and is useful for those who need comprehensive search results. By contrast, iOS’s search function, called Spotlight, allows instant web searches only on highlighted text.

Local photo deletion

Android’s “Free up space” capability lets users back up photos in the cloud and easily delete local files stored in the device with just one tap. On the other hand, iOS offers a convenient way to sync photos and videos to iCloud, and its Optimize iPhone Storage function is great for users with low-storage devices. Even though this is enhanced for iOS 11, it still doesn’t save as much storage space as Android’s Photos app.

Other features

The iOS 11’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode detects whether the user is driving, which stops the device from sending notifications in order to avoid distractions. It’s a welcome addition, but it’s a weak counterpart to Android’s “Do Not Disturb” function, which is far more robust. Another feature that won’t be found in iOS 11 is a “Clear All” button, which closes all open apps at once.

Even with a handful of nifty features in the iOS 11, those who enjoy Android’s customizability and unique features likely won’t switch. However, the iOS 11’s focus on enterprise usability might be attractive for some non-Apple users.

Businesses need simple yet functional devices that work. If you need expert advice on device features and usability, get in touch with us today.  855.476.6347

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

New malware threats on Mac computers

By | Apple

No computer is safe from malware, not even Macs. Even though incidences of viruses and malware are rare for Apple computers, they can still occur with disastrous consequences. Based on one security software firm’s report, MacOS malware grew by 744% in 2016, but the number of attacks were still fewer than attacks on Windows computers. So even though they’re safer, you still need to know how your Mac is vulnerable to a growing number of malware threats.

How the new malware attacks Macs

The new strain of malware targeted at Macs is called OSX/Dok, which was first discovered in April 2017. OSX/Dok infiltrates Macs through phishing attacks, whereby users receive a suspicious email with a zip file attachment. Like all phishing attacks, it contains a message that tricks the recipient into opening the attachment purportedly about tax returns.

Mayhem ensues once the malware is in the system, gains administrator privileges, takes over encrypted communications, changes network settings, and performs other system tweaks that put the users at its mercy.

What the malware does

The malware targets mostly European networks, but it’s expected to spread into other regions. Even more alarming is its ability to bypass Gatekeeper, a security feature in the MacOS designed to fend off malware. This is because its developers were able to obtain a valid Apple developer certificate, which makes the attachment appear totally legitimate. Although Apple has addressed the issue by revoking the developer’s certificate of the earliest versions of the malware, the attackers remain persistent and now use a new developer ID.

How to avoid the mayhem

The Mac-targeted OSX/Dok malware is easy to avoid if you keep your wits about you when receiving zip files from unknown senders — these files should be treated as high-risk and be reported to your IT team, quarantined, or junked. Whether you’re using a Mac or a Windows computer, clicking on suspicious ads can download and install apps from third-party sources that put your system at risk.

Mac users are not completely safe, and complacency with security could only result in compromised and irreparable systems, ruined reputation, and lost profits for businesses. For this particular malware, a simple act of vigilance may be all it takes to avoid having your Apple computer bitten by bugs. If you want to double the layer of protection for your business’s Mac computers, call Simpatico for robust security solutions – 855-476-6347.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Mac Pro gets revamped

By | Apple

Mac Pro users have long awaited the release date of the new workstation, and who could blame them when the current model has been available since 2013. Thankfully, Apple just confirmed that the revamped Mac Pro is on its way. From specs, features, and design changes, here’s the latest information we have about Apple’s high-end desktop.

Processor

The new Mac Pro is rumored to feature the next-generation Intel Xeon E5 processor. While the current models are configurable up to 3.5GHz for the six-core option, 3.0GHz for the eight-core option, and 2.7GHz for the 12-core option, the 2018 model could offer up to 14 or 18 cores per processor. What’s more, each model will likely come equipped with the Iris Pro Graphics P580, a highly powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) that will make heavy file renders a breeze.

However, there’s a small chance that Apple might abandon Intel chips altogether and move to AMD’s RYZEN 7 CPUs, which just set a new standard for high performing CPU processors.

RAM and storage

The new Intel Xeon chips are rumored to have DDR4 memory controllers, and if that’s true, you can expect uber fast memory and low latency without having to worry about issues with overheating. Currently, the 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB RAM, so it’s likely that you could expect the same RAM with the updated entry-level model of the Mac Pro. And because Apple knows that users usually work with very large files, an option for 2TB flash storage could be possible.

Ports

Claims that the new Mac Pro might offer more Thunderbolt ports in the form of USB-3 are also up in the air. This makes sense as it brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at 40Gbps which ensures faster data transfer speed.

While a number of users wish Apple would offer PCI slots so they could add faster SSDs and more powerful video cards, looking back at the company’s previous releases, we don’t think you should get your hopes up just yet.

Design

According to Apple, the triangular design of the Mac Pro’s thermal core was what limited them from offering updates to the machine. Because of that, we’ll probably see a completely new design in the 2018 model.

Prices

Apple just rolled out some minor updates to the current Mac Pro, including enhanced specs at lower price points. For the $2,999, you now get a 6-core Intel Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs and 16GB of memory. And for $3,999, you now get an 8-core processor and dual D700 GPUs.

Having said that, you can expect slightly higher prices for the new Mac Pro than the current models, like with most new Apple releases.

Release date

The timeframe is 2018, but keep in mind that the present Mac Pro was unveiled at WWDC in 2013 and supply was so restrained that people didn’t get theirs until the following spring. Therefore it’s highly possible that the new model will be launched at WWDC 2018 during summer and won’t probably ship until the end of the year.

Stay tuned for more updates on the new Mac Pro.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

New Mac malware linked to DNC hacking group

By | Apple

Fancy Bear, also known as APT28, is the Russian cybercriminal group responsible for hacking the Democratic National Party last year. Since then, the group has developed a host of tools to exploit Linux, Android, and Windows vulnerabilities. Last month, they spread a new strain of malware that specifically targets Apple Macbooks. If you own a Mac or an iOS device, here are some crucial details about the new malware.

According to antivirus provider Bitdefender, the new malware — named Xagent — is a Mac OS backdoor that is usually delivered via spear phishing emails.

To deploy the malware, hackers attach a Trojan software downloader in the email. If users interact with it, the program immediately creates a backdoor and connects to the cybercriminal’s network.

The malware then avoids detection by checking for antivirus software; and if it determines that cybersecurity solutions are offline or unpatched, it will begin to send system information, locally-saved passwords, iPhone backups, and desktop screenshots back to hacker headquarters.

Although security updates for the new malware are still unavailable, there are some things you can do to minimize the possibility of infection.

Approach emails with caution
Since hackers use phishing scams to distribute the Xagent malware, train your staff to be critical of email links or attachments, even if from the CEO or a close friend. And under no circumstances should you interact with any email from an unknown sender.

Keep your OS up-to-date
Always remember to install the latest operating system and application updates to make sure that Mac vulnerabilities are covered immediately.

Don’t save passwords
While it may be easier to save your passwords on your local browser, it gives hackers easy access to your accounts. If you can’t remember all your passwords, consider password management software. And while we’re on the subject, make sure you set unique passwords with a good combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.

Encrypt backups
To add another layer of protection, encrypt your iOS backups. This ensures that unauthorized users won’t be able to read the contents of your iOS data even if they do manage to gain access to your computer.

Cybersecurity is a universal issue, even for Mac users. But adopting these basic security habits will keep any hacker, whether from Russia or the US, at bay. Fortify your defenses by calling Simpatico Systems, today!  855.476.6347.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

How to recover from ransomware in your Mac

By | Apple

While a vast majority of ransomware that’s been developed targets Windows computers, malware authors have begun to attack Mac devices. Recently, researchers discovered a new ransomware strain, OSX/Filecoder.E, which encrypts Mac files and keeps them locked even after the victims have paid the ransom. But don’t worry, there is still hope if you follow the security advice below.

According to ESET security researchers, even though the Filecoder ransomware was written in Apple’s programming language, the malicious code is not as potent or as skillful as other viruses. In fact, it’s so poorly written that hackers never developed a method to retrieve the encryption key once the ransom has been paid.

In any case, whether you’re dealing with Filecoder or some other ransomware, we advise against ever giving in to the hacker’s demands.

Avoid Filecoder
So far, Filecoder isn’t given out via phishing emails like most ransomware; instead, it’s distributed on Torrent sites and goes by the name “Patcher.” Therefore, it’s best to stay away from these highly unregulated (and mostly illegal) websites and stick to trusted app stores like Mac, Microsoft, and Google.

Even if the ransomware is not sent out via phishing campaigns, you should still be careful of any unsolicited emails with strange file attachments in case the malware authors decide to branch out.

Install preventive measures
Like with any other malware, being proactive with your cybersecurity solutions is the best way to defend against Filecoder. Install reliable antivirus software, intrusion prevention systems, firewalls, and update systems whenever possible.

You must also maintain backups and have a disaster recovery plan to keep your business running in the off chance that ransomware or any other cyberattack successfully infiltrated your systems.

Defeat the ransomware
Given the ransomware’s shoddy code, security researchers have found a way to decrypt files without paying. Free cracking tools like PKCRACK can recover Filecoder-encrypted data if you have one original version of the affected files. The recovery process, however, does require some programming knowledge, so contact an IT expert or a managed services provider to unlock the ransomware for you.

Filecoder may not be the strongest malware around, but this could just be the start of Mac-based attacks. To protect your business from the onslaught of cyberattacks, you need security experts. Contact us today at 855-476-5526.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

iPhone video bug crashes Apple devices

By | Apple

Apple iOS users beware — there’s a five-second video that can harm your iPhone. In late November, the brief MP4 clip seemed innocent enough. But after iPhone users played the video, their iPhones began to slow down and eventually crash. Details of the iPhone-killing bug are still being investigated, but here’s what we know so far.

What is the video?
As mentioned, the MP4 video initially seems innocuous enough. It portrays a man standing by a bed with the word “honey” across the screen. After one or two minutes of viewing the video, the affected iPhone becomes sluggish. It then freezes and becomes unresponsive, ultimately requiring a reset.

It appears that the bug takes advantage of a flaw within iOS memory management. The corrupted video generates a loop that causes the affected Apple device to use more memory, leading to a temporary crash.

Reports have shown that the MP4 is hosted on a video-sharing site, Miaopai. Since then, the video has been distributed in other social media platforms, online forums, and, more commonly, as a link via iMessage.

Tests have also found that the video effects the latest iOS version (iOS 10.1 and 10.2) all the way to iOS 5. So far, the bug doesn’t seem to affect other non iOS products. But regardless, all users should be careful of the video.

Although this video’s effects may seem worrying, there is a fix to the problems caused by the corrupt clip.

How to perform a hard restart
The only way to recover from the crash is to do perform a hard restart. To do this, you simply have to hold down the power button and home button for a few seconds.

As for the iPhone 7, all you need to do is hold the power button and volume decrease buttons simultaneously to force a reset. In both cases, just hold the buttons until the Apple logo appears, and your device should restart normally.

Always be careful
Even though it’s easy enough to fix, it’s probably best to avoid the crash bug altogether. Soon, Apple will introduce a new security patch for this vulnerability, but until the update is released, you should avoid clicking on suspicious MP4 video links no matter what platform you use.

And this is the same for other videos, URLs, photos, emails, and websites you encounter on the web. When it comes to traversing online worlds, it’s imperative to develop a critical mindset for everything you see in the internet. While this particular bug only slows down your Apple device, you might not be so lucky the next time you unwittingly click on an unknown iMessage link or email attachment.

If there’s any lesson we can learn here, it’s that you can’t be complacent no matter how secure Apple platforms may be. Want to protect your Apple device from future security incidents like these? Contact us today, and we’ll provide you with sound advice and security solutions to nip these problems in the bud.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.