Skip to Content

Blog Archives

Travelex – what happened?

travelex

We have all seen it on the news, Travelex were reportedly hacked on New Year’s Eve (2 weeks ago today) and are being held to ransom by a criminal ransomware gang known as ‘Sodinokibi’. The company is still working to get back its systems after 2 weeks, resorting to pen and paper in most of its 1200 branches. It seems clear that Travelex does not intend to pay the ransom and claiming that no customer data has been compromised despite the gang claiming to have downloaded sensitive customer data.

How did this happen?

Most are familiar with Ransomware, essentially it is malware which enters a network and encrypts the files on that network rendering them useless in the hope that a ransom is paid and the decryption key is provided in return, though don’t always bank on an honest transaction! We have seen this many times in particularly the Wannacry cryptoworm of 2017 which attacked Microsoft Operating systems. Microsoft had released a patch to prevent this however most users typically hadn’t installed it and so were at risk of being infected, equally Windows XP was vulnerable as it was no longer supported in much the same way that Windows 7 is no longer supported from today (14th January 2020) and no further patches are available.

How was Travelex Different?

Travelex were warned by a security researcher back on 13th September 2019 that they had insecurities in their Virtual Private Network (VPN) in particularly their Pulse Secure VPN Servers but that appears to have been ignored!  The issue however starts 7 months previous to this when Pulse Secure identified a vulnerability and released a subsequent patch but clearly this was not applied by Travelex. It is reported that the ‘Sodinokibi’ gang have had access into Travelex network for the last 6 months, no doubt watching and gathering data ready for the attack, this was certainly a planned and well executed ransomware attack.

Could it have been avoided?

YES without a shadow of doubt. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Travelex IT Security didn’t miss a security patch by a few days but by several months! Regular patching of endpoints is essential, IT Security is critical, this is/was a major worldwide financial business.

Will they recover?

Good question! After 2 weeks they haven’t recovered, all servers are unavailable, branches are using pen and paper, it’s a disaster! Perhaps Travelex intend to pay and hopefully get their files back? A company like Travelex should have substantial Disaster Recovery plans and should be able to restore from backup however its likely, given the time that has now passed and the size of the attack that backups are also encrypted. As for company reputation, well its shot!

No matter how small or large your business is, do not think that you cannot be affected by Ransomware, do not ignore IT Security risks, protect your network endpoints

travweb

 

0 Continue Reading →

Hacker Halloween

Monsters may be out of your age range, however, technology can be a scary place, it’s always connected and open for hackers, malware and viruses. Halloween is the scariest time of the year with ghosts, monsters and demons, however, is the horrors found in technology more terrifying?

New devices are being created each year to make your everyday lives smarter and more efficient but it is up to you to ensure your devices are secure. This involves any device that is connected to the internet such as televisions, gaming consoles, home router, Google Home, Alexa, security cameras, baby monitors, smart locks and even smart thermostats, these can all make your home vulnerable.

Hacker banner

These devices are known as the Internet of Things devices or IoT for short, IoT devices have provided cybercriminals with new ways of gaining access to devices and the reason why these devices are targeted is because they have little or no security.

Heres how to keep your devices safe not just on Halloween but all year round.

Router security 1

How to become secure 

Equip your home router with strong passwords as this is the key element in connecting all of your devices and make them operable.

Rename your router, don’t keep the name that it comes with as this may distinguish the make or model. Give your router an unusual name that doesn’t relate to you or your address, as you don’t want to give away any personal information.

Strong password 1

Set up a guest network that visitors or friends and relatives can use and doesn’t link with your IoT devices.

Change any default username and passwords that come with your devices as some hackers may already know the default passwords for some IoT devices which makes it easier to access them.

Random password 1

Also, use strong passwords and avoid the common words, use more complex passwords which you can do by mixing up letters, numbers and symbols. You may want to consider a password manager.

Keep software up to date, if you get notified of a software update don’t ignore it. These updates could include security patches, make sure that you are downloading the updates to ensure that you are secure.

Two-factor authentication, you can receive one time codes that get sent to your phone as well as entering a password which helps you become more secure if this is offered it is beneficial to use it.

Password 1

Can it be stopped?

It is very unlikely as hackers find new ways each day, you can stay one step ahead of hackers by following the steps provided above.

Don’t forget to check out our other latest blog posts on our website and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think we could help your business run smoother!
You can reach us on 0333 444 5353 or email [email protected]

 

3 Continue Reading →

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Feature

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is the distribution of a service which is hosted over the internet and can be divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

This can include servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence which are completed over the internet providing innovation, flexibility and scalability.

 Internet security

Top benefits of cloud computing

Cost

Relocating to cloud computing may lower the cost of running and maintaining your IT systems. You can reduce costs by using the resources of cloud computing such as Cloud53’s Cloud Desktop service – this removes the expense of purchasing expensive server equipment and software as well as setting up and running data centres or computer rooms on-site. More ways costs can be reduced involve the cost of upgrading systems, hardware and software may be included in your contract, energy intake costs may be reduced, there are fewer time delays and you do not need to pay for experts managing the infrastructure as it is all included in a monthly cost usually in a ‘pay as you grow’ model which allows for flexibility and scalability whilst delivering a clear monthly cost.


Cut costs

Speed

Cloud computing services are usually provided as a self-service and are on-demand meaning that a large amount of computing resources can be supplied within minutes. Businesses can also get applications to market swiftly, without thinking about capital costs or technical delivery or maintenance. Cloud computing services usually run on a global network of secure data centres and these data centres are updated and maintained regularly to ensure fast and efficient computing hardware. For example, Cloud53’s datacentres are situated on the Internet backbone of the UK providing blazing speeds for clients.

 Fast

Productivity

Cloud computing also allows for a business to be more productive as it delivers the ability to access any data from any location, worldwide. This allows businesses to offer employees the ability to work from home with exactly the same resources as they would have in the office. This saves staff commuting to and from the office which results in the employees being more productive. Similarly, the “office” is never closed – you are free to work from wherever, whenever. Giving staff freedom to manage their own workload.
Cloud computing also removes the need to deal with hardware. Whether it be setup time and costs, server racking and stacking, hardware set-up, software patching and other IT tasks that can be time-consuming. This allows for more time satisfying customers, achieving goals and concentrating on the business.

Human error

Security

Many cloud service suppliers offer a wide range of policies, technologies and controls that reinforce your security overall which helps protect data, apps and infrastructure from potential threats. 94% of business saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud found a survey conducted by RapidScale.

 Hacker

Reliability

Cloud computing makes it easier for business continuity, disaster recovery and data backup, as well as making it less expensive as data can be mirrored at multiple sites on the cloud providers network. This avoids human error as all documents are stored in one place and in a single format meaning consistency in data can be maintained and this provides you with a clear record of any revisions or updates.

 5 stars

Scalability

Another benefit of cloud computing involves the ability to scale up or scale down your operation and storage requirements quickly providing businesses with flexibility. It is for this reason that Cloud computing is often referred to as elastic computing.
Using the cloud will free up your time allowing you to concentrate on growing and running your business.

Growth

5 Continue Reading →

A Day in the Life of a Digital Marketer.

Meet Ellie our Digital Marketer.

Why Digital Marketing?

I studied travel and tourism for 3 years at college and International Tourism Management at university for another 3 years and throughout my courses over the 6 years, marketing was a unit I had to learn, which I loved and wanted my career to be in marketing once I had graduated.

I graduated from university on July 10th and the first thing I started doing is looking for a job role as a digital marketer and came across Cloud53. I passed my interview with Cloud53 and everyone here was so welcoming and a pleasure to work alongside.

ellienycbali

 

c53_ico

 

 

 

Day to Day

The first thing that I make sure to do every morning is checking Cloud53’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts and I do this as this gives me an insight into what is trending on that day and this allows me to share any stories that are relevant. I then see if I have anything to post on each social media account. I show Dan some of my ideas I have created as he likes to be picky so as soon as he is happy the posts are scheduled to Hootsuite.

I had a meeting with Stephen on what he wants me to do marketing-wise for Cloud53 and asked me my ideas and opinions. I learned a lot from Stephen as he showed me some tricks that I didn’t know and he told me that he liked what I was doing so far.

The team at Cloud53 has a weekly meeting which allows everyone to be updated on what each of us is up to and what plans we have in place for the company as everyone has a different job role.

Before I leave I make sure to check all of our social media accounts to see if there are any comments I can reply to and see what engagement the posts have got. When I get home I also create more posts to make sure I’m ahead and this allows me to post regularly.

It is my second week at Cloud53 and there is still so much I haven’t done but I will be doing, such as meeting Cloud53’s clients, visiting our data centers and attending network events.

Don’t forget to check out our other latest blog posts on our website and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think we could help your business run smoother!
You can reach us on 0333 444 5353 or email [email protected]

6 Continue Reading →

Windows 7 – is this the end?

Windows 7

Windows 7, as an operating system (OS), is probably the most popular OS in history, XP was good in its day but Windows 7 beat it. It was released in 2009 and in its first year sold 240 million copies, that’s 7 copies every second! It has become the staple business Operating System and it was only at the end of 2018 that Windows 10 became more popular. As of April 2019 Windows 10 accounts for 44%* of Operating systems on Desktops/Laptops with Windows 7 still having 36%* of the market. Windows XP that went end of life 5 years ago still has 3.5%*.

Nobody knows the exact number of computers in use worldwide but in 2015 it was estimated to be around 2 Billion, if we take that as todays figure then there are around 720 million Windows 7 PC’s in use worldwide! One hell of a successful OS for the last 10 years!

BUT in January 2020 Windows 7 is officially retired and in Microsoft terms is ‘end of life’! What does that mean? Well simply it will continue to work as it always has done, in much the same way Windows XP still works however there will be security risks which may be acceptable for a home computer but typically is going to be a major risk for business computers. Furthermore the latest applications and/or updates may not work on Windows 7.

Microsoft releases critical and security patches regularly for all operating systems as and when potential threats or vulnerabilities are found, the numbers per month vary but typically there are around 20 per month from Microsoft, from January 2020 these will not be released from Microsoft for Windows 7.

Options?

  1. Carry on as you are using Windows 7 and accept the risks.
  2. Upgrade your Windows 7 to Windows 10 subject to the computer hardware meeting Windows 10 requirements.
  3. Purchase a new computer which comes with Windows 10.

 

Essentially if you are a Windows 7 user Microsoft have effectively backed you into a corner, it is a major risk to continue using Windows 7 and the longer it is used after January 2020 the larger the risk becomes. The best advice, to be safe, is to move to Windows 10 however this will come at a cost.

Remember the WannaCry Ransomware attack on the NHS last year? This is estimated to have cost the NHS £92m and affected most XP machines within the NHS that were powered on at the time, the hack happened due to a vulnerability within the OS as no updates for XP had been released for 4 years. Something similar is a very serious threat to Windows 7 after January 2020.

Cloud53 would be happy to discuss the options with any company concerned about their OS strategy ready for the next decade.

*figures from netmarketshare April 2019

0 Continue Reading →