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Rise in Cryptoblocker, CryptoWall and variants viruses

Our last post was about the rise in accounting virus scams and phishing.  We have seen this activity continue to grow and become even more destructive. We are seeing many of these new ransom-ware viruses being emailed and disguised as important payroll and financial emails.  See the example email below.  If you see this email or anything like it delete it right way and do not open any of the links.  If you are not sure call us or the financial company who the email is supposedly from so the message can be verified.  If in doubt… don’t open it.

EXAMPLE EMAIL:

cryptowall

You can see from this example email that there are a few links which look like invoices but they are actually links to a virus download.  One click of the link could infect your whole network.

The basic purpose of these emails is to encrypt and lock files on your machine and servers and then demand ransom money be paid in order to get the files restored.  The only solution at this point is a complete machine rebuild to remove the virus and a server restore from backup so they are extremely costly.

Use caution when opening any attachment or link in an email or on the internet!

You can read more about these types of viruses on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CryptoLocker

 

Beware of Invoice Virus Emails

We have recently seen an increase in a phishing/virus scam where the scammers send out a plain looking email that appears to be a receipt for a purchase. The dollar amount for the receipt is high enough to make most people panic that they did not make any such purchase and below it is a link to view said invoice.  The link in these emails actually takes you to a public Dropbox folder that contains a zip file which contains a malicious virus.

EXAMPLE EMAIL

AR_Scam_Alert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a few things to note here.  First the “receipt” is rather non-descriptive.  It does not provide any information on the purchase other than a dollar amount and a random purchase number and date.   Also of note is the subject line is actually the “To” email address.

Your best protection is to always use caution when opening emails, especially ones you were not expecting.  Think Before You Click is something we try and educate all our users on and when in doubt contact your IT department and have them review any suspect emails.  Never forward emails of this kind, even to support as this could create additional risk depending on the type of malicious code contained in the email.

Keeping your anti-virus and firewall solutions up to date is also critical.  New threats emerge almost at an hourly rate and almost every anti-virus solution and firewall manufacturer provides a daily update to their services at minimum.   Security is a serious business and the days of buying a firewall off the shelf and installing a commercial anti-virus solution to protect yourself are long gone.  Security is a 24 x 7 job that needs to be managed by professionals who are properly trained and have well documented processes to make sure these critical systems function properly at all times.

As always thanks for reading and remember to Think Before You Click!

Dedicated to your security,

 

David Bryden

StoneHill Technical Solutions, Inc.

 

 

StoneHill among the top 501 MSPs in the world

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Nine Lives Media Names StoneHill Technical Solutions, Inc.
to the MSPmentor 501 Global Edition

Seventh Annual Report Identifies
World’s Top 501 Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

 

March 15, 2014: StoneHill Technical Solutions, Inc. has surfaced on Nine Lives Media’s seventh-annual MSPmentor 501 Global Edition (http://www.mspmentor.net/top501), a distinguished list and report identifying the world’s top 501 managed service providers (MSPs). This year’s report includes:

  • MSPmentor 501 Global Edition
  • MSPmentor 100 Small Business Edition (top MSPs with 10 or fewer employees)
  • MSPmentor 200 North America Edition
  • MSPmentor 50 EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Edition
  • MSPmentor 25 AANZ (Asia, Australia, New Zealand) Edition
  • New: In-depth data tracking of per user and per device pricing data.

“We are once again honored to be named on the MSPmentor list of distinguished managed service providers,” said David Bryden, CEO, StoneHill Technical Solutions, Inc. “we work hard every day to deliver world class service to our customers so to be recognized for this achievement is wonderful.”

The MSPmentor 501 report is based on data from MSPmentor’s global online survey, conducted October-December 2013. The MSPmentor 501 report recognizes top managed service providers based on a range of metrics, including annual managed services revenue growth, revenue per employee, managed services offered and customer devices managed.

“MSPmentor congratulates StoneHill on this unique honor,” said Amy Katz, president of Nine Lives Media, a Penton business. “Qualifying for our MSPmentor 501 Global Edition puts StoneHill in rare company.”

MSPs on this year’s global 501 list lifted their combined annual recurring revenues $2.61 billion, continuing seven straight years of strong growth. Together, those MSPs now manage more than 700,000 servers, according to Jessica Davis, managing editor, MSPmentor.

MSPmentor, produced by Nine Lives Media, is the ultimate guide to managed services. MSPmentor features the industry’s top-ranked blog, research, Channel Expert Hour Webcasts and FastChat videos. It is the number one online media destination for managed service providers in the world.

About StoneHill Technical Solutions, Inc.                             

StoneHill Tech was founded in 2007 with the vision of enabling small businesses across the country to use technology to more effectively grow, manage and protect their business.

StoneHill Tech provides a suite of IT management and support services, internet marketing services, hosting, data backup services, and professional services backed by a service team that is available 24/7, with national and international service delivered from our headquarters in southern Orange County, CA.

Two ways to reduce your business tax?

 

Though tax season is rapidly approaching it is not too late to take advantage of business deductions. So, we hope you find this information useful.

 

Get Up To $500,000 In Tax Deductions

First we want to make you fully aware of the Section 179 deduction and how it can benefit businesses like yours.  In 2013, Section 179 allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of equipment of up to $500,000.  This is good on new and used equipment, as well as off-the-shelf software. The deduction limit has decreased in each of the last several years, but Congress took action this year and reversed that trend. However, this amount is scheduled to decrease to $25,000 in 2014.

Also, the first-year bonus depreciation, which applies to new business equipment, has been set at 50 percent through 2013, and will drop to zero percent starting January 1, 2014. The current cap on total capital equipment purchases is $2,000,000 and will decrease to $200,000 in 2014. Many types of property qualify under the Section 179 tax code provision. This includes technology, machinery, computers, vehicles and office equipment.

Section 179 Resources

·         The Section 179 Deduction

·         Section 179 Tax Calculator

·         Section 179 FAQs

 
Tend To Your Retirement Account

Whether you have a 401(k), Roth IRA, SEP, or KEOGH plan, this is a good time to contribute to your retirement account – or establish one if you haven’t yet. Your accountant will have good advice on deciding how much to contribute (in terms of yearly limits and what works best for your business), but however much it is, you have that much less taxable income for the year.

 

Tips

If there is any one part of small business that sends many business owners running for the hills, it’s taxes. If you make a misstep in this area, it can really end up costing you. There is a lot to consider in the world of taxes. So our advice: Find a deduction guide, and if you really want to cover your bases, contact a trusted tax expert. If you do not already have a trusted tax expert we use and recommend Brian Hill the owner of BCH Consulting in Irvine who said this in a recent interview “Congress is great at providing tax incentives that are difficult or even impossible to use. Asset depreciation incentives are the one incentive that can benefit every business with a positive bottom line.”. He can be reached by phone (949) 954-8133 or email brian@bchconsulting.net.

7 Ways to find the right IT Solution for your company

            Do you know the health of your technology department? Do you know for sure your data is protected and things are running smoothly? When it comes to technology are you always putting out fires, or is everything taken care of and thought out ahead of time? If you don’t know how your company’s data is being backed up and protected, you have a huge problem! You may need to explore your options and look into an outside solution.

            Finding a computer services company has not only become a necessary trend in the business world, it saves valuable time and money. However, with something as important as your company’s data finding the right company is vital. Here are seven things to look for when selecting an IT services provider.

  1. A growing company. Look at not only how long the company has been in business, but whether or not the business been growing over time. Having many years experience is great, but what you really want to see is a growing company, even if they has less years in business.
  1. Current client satisfaction. Ask for recommendations, you will find out a lot about a company based on how their clients view them.
  1. Security Protocols. Find out what their security and backup protocols are, how are they protecting your data and keeping your information secure? A good company should have safety measures in place, and have no problems explaining how they will protect your data.
  1. Size of the company. Are they able to handle what your IT needs are, do they have enough employees/time to keep up on your needs?
  1. Pricing. Look at their price structure, is it fixed or variable. Is there something that fits well within your budget and needs?
  1. Service Plan. What kind of service plan do they provide?  Is it break fix, block of hours per month or fixed cost?  Is it tiered or one plan only?  Is there an ‘Onboarding’ process so the consultant knows your environment before making suggestions and supporting?  Is there a strategy (action plan) put in place to support you network?
  1. Integrity. The fact is you are putting a lot of trust into this company to take care of your technology needs, looking for a company with honesty and integrity as cornerstones is important. You really won’t be able to judge this without actually meeting with the company leaders and getting a feeling of how they work.

These questions may seem overwhelming, but the reality is that there is a lot that goes into keeping your IT department running smoothly, and these are all very important questions to have answered. We would be happy to help you understand and give you any advice we can. Please give us a call for a free consultation with the owner of StoneHill.

Please Contact
Stephen Lindstrom
(949) 540-7720
StephenL@stonehilltech.com