How to protect your Windows PC from WannaCry ransomware

UPDATE 05.25.17:  Here’s Connecting Point’s Service Manager, Jason Kellogg (among others), in an interview about WannaCry and other ransomware hitting systems right here in the Rogue Valley. (Courtesy NBC5, aka KOBI Channel 5, the local NBC affiliate.)

WannaCry screenshot virus ransomware security Connecting Point Medford Oregon

You’re probably safe. But you really should make sure—now.

The first reports came out of Britain last Friday: The National Health Service found some of its Windows PCs under attack by a virulent piece of ransomware named WannaCry, foisted on vulnerable systems by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers. Then it attacked Germany’s national rail system. WannaCry exploits a critical vulnerability in Windows computers, a vulnerability that Microsoft had issued a patch for back in March. But for those not diligent with their operating system updates, many found their computers completely unusable, with a pop-up message informing them that their files were encrypted and locked. To release them, they needed to pay a ransom of £230 (about $300) to a BitCoin account.

By Monday morning, the attacks had surfaced globally, in particular in China, where many computers run on pirated versions of Windows and thus cannot be patched. The extortion scheme has now spread to 150 countries. Microsoft has pointed a finger at the U.S. government’s National Security Agency (NSA), which created hacking tools enabling this type of cyberattack – and then had them stolen by hackers. Ironic.

So are you at risk? If you’re using a licensed copy of Windows and have up-to-date security software installed, you’re probably fine – but let’s make absolutely certain.

Which versions of Windows are at risk?

WannaCry take specific advantage of a vulnerability in older Windows operating systems to infect and encrypt.  These versions are Windows 8, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003. If you’re currently running Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, or Windows Server 2016 and have been diligent about system updates, you’re fine.

Here are some steps you can take to protect your PC from WannaCry:

  • If you don’t have a recent backup, make one immediately. Once WannaCry encrypts your files, your options become very limited. Restoring your system from a backup is one of them – but you can’t make such a backup retroactively. As we tell our customers: You should assume at all times that, 30 seconds from now, everything on your computer will go away… forever. You should always have multiple current backups, with at least one of them kept off-site (in case of fire or other disaster). Talk to one of our sales or service specialists about implementing a robust backup strategy as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you have the latest Windows updates and patches installed. As mentioned above, the security vulnerability that makes WannaCry and other attacks possible was identified and patched by Microsoft a couple of months ago – but it only works if it’s been installed. Windows 10 checks for updates on a regular basis, then downloads and installs them automatically. But in light of this recent attack, you should check to make sure you have the latest updates installed. To do this, click the Start button, then go to Settings > Update and security > Windows Update, and select Check for updates. Windows XP users can download a special patch Microsoft created to address this vulnerability. Find out how here.
  • If you’ve turned off Windows Update, turn it back on. Many users, weary of constant updates and patches, disable this important feature. Better to deal with a bit of inconvenience than risk infection by malware.
  • Use a good Internet security suite. PC Magazine has an in-depth review of the current offerings here. Get a good one, install it, and keep it updated.
  • Bring your co-workers into the loop. At your next staff meeting, budget time to go over “best practices” for using office computers. A good place to start: Don’t click on questionable links, and don’t open suspicious attachments. IT administrators should restrict user access to the company network to just the areas they need to do their jobs.
  • If you’re attacked, don’t hesitate. Act. Shut down the entire network immediately. Ransomware often threatens dire consequences if you turn off the computer or disable Internet access, but that is rarely the case. Security experts and law enforcement agencies warn against paying ransoms, since this only encourages fresh attacks further down the road. And paying the extortion fee does not guarantee your files will be unencrypted.
  • Get a Mac. While no longer immune to all viruses and other malware, Mac systems are far less prone to such infections. (The exception would be if you are running Windows on your Mac via something like Boot Camp or Parallels. Windows running on a Mac is just as vulnerable to WannaCry and other PC malware as any other Windows computer.) The same holds true for users running ChromeOS, Linux, or mobile operating systems like iOS and Android.

The experts at Connecting Point can offer assistance in making the transition from Windows to Mac as painless as possible (we’ve done it literally thousands of times). We even offer a monthly class to ease your switching journey.

JUST IN: HP Color LaserJet Pro M277dw network office multifunction

HP Color LaserJet Pro M277dw MFP all-in-one multifunction Medford ORPrint, scan, copy, or fax from anywhere on your office network with the HP Color LaserJet Pro M277dw

This robust office workhorse is a new arrival here at Connecting Point. For a multifunction color laser printer/scanner/copier/fax with this much capability, it’s surprising how small a footprint it has. Connect via Wi-Fi or ultrafast Gigabit Ethernet (and it also has a USB port for direct connection). The HP Color LaserJet Pro M277dw also boasts auto-duplexing, allowing unattended double-sided printing and copying – which, combined with its low cost-per-page, saves you both time and money.

In stock now. $399.99 ($14 per month on approved credit)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Printer, copier, scanner, and fax
  • Up to 19 copies/pages per minute black and color; first page out in as little as 11.5 seconds black, 13 seconds color
  • 600 x 600 dpi, with HP ImageREt 3600 enhancement
  • Scan (24-bit color/8-bit grayscale/up to 1200 dpi), copy, or fax
  • Built-in 50-sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)
  • Three-inch touchscreen Color Graphic Display
  • Maximum monthly duty cycle up to 30,000 pages; recommended volume 250 to 2500 pages per month
  • USB 2.0; Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi; AirPrint; HP ePrint
  • Mac and Windows compatible

Our ‘Birthday and Rebirth Sale’: April 14th-30th, 2017

Connecting Point Medford OR sale Mac PC anniversary new location

birthday Connecting Point 42 years anniversary new location Mac PC iPad sale

It’s both a birthday, and a rebirth.

Happy birthday to us! Back in 1975, the company that would eventually be known as Connecting Point was born. Now, 42 years later, we’ve moved to a beautiful new location at the corner of Poplar and McAndrews in Medford. To celebrate our 42nd birthday and our new digs, Connecting Point’s got some very special offers in store for you…

  • For starters, take 42 dollars off the price of ANY new desktop or laptop, Mac or PC. Choose from America’s favorite brands: Apple, HP, Lenovo, ASUS, Acer, and more.
  • birthday Connecting Point Epson Expression XP-430 All-in-OneWe’re also offering the $99 Epson Expression Home XP-430 printer/scanner/copier for just 42 dollars with any new computer purchase (and yes, you may combine this with the first offer!).
  • Or save 42 dollars on the price of any iPad Pro — and that includes both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch models.
  • Or choose from our large selection of wired computer speakers, from leading brands like Sony, Logitech, and Altec Lansing, all on sale for just 42 dollars each.

Come celebrate with us!

It’s all part of Connecting Point’s BIRTHDAY AND REBIRTH SALE, celebrating both 42 years as the Rogue Valley’s technology experts – and the move to our beautiful new location at 1251 East McAndrews Road, Medford.

Come join the party at Connecting Point, southern Oregon’s only Apple Premier Partner — and home to sales and service for the best and brightest computers, devices, peripherals, and accessories.


This sale runs from Friday, April 14th through Sunday, April 30th, 2017. Rain checks will be available for all offers except wired speakers, which are limited to stock on hand. Also: Yes, the first and second offers may be combined for even more savings! 

Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, and iPad Pro are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Apple revamps iPad lineup, including price drops

Apple iPad lineup, available from Connecting Point Medford OR

Today, Apple announced changes to its popular iPad lineup.

Some older models were phased out, a new model was introduced, and in some cases prices shifted significantly downward.

Here are today’s iPad family announcements, in a nutshell:

  • The iPad Air 2 product line is gone.
  • In its place, Apple is introducing a new 9.7-inch model, called simply “iPad.” Prices now start at $329.99 for a 32GB Wi-Fi only model (down from $399.99 for the iPad Air 2 counterpart it replaces). Other configurations include a 32GB Wi-Fi+Cellular model for $459.99, a 128GB Wi-Fi version for $429.99, and a 128GB Wi-Fi+Cellular model for $559.99. This new iPad is available in Silver, Gold, or Space Gray. We will begin accepting orders for iPad beginning this Friday (March 24th, 2017).
  • The iPad mini 2 line is also gone, and prices for the iPad mini 4 have dropped. iPad mini 4 is now available in just a 128GB configuration, with a Wi-Fi only version selling for $399.99, and the cellular version for $529.99. Color choices are Silver, Gold, and Space Gray.
  • The iPad Pro lines remain unchanged.

For complete specifications, pricing, and ordering info, visit our iPad lineup page here.

SEMINAR: Come meet macOS Sierra – and save on a new Mac

Free macOS Sierra seminar Connecting Point Medford OregonJoin us for an exclusive seminar to learn about what your Mac can do now with macOS Sierra.

We’d like to invite you to an informal look at the Mac’s current operating system, macOS Sierra. Even if you think you know your Mac® well, you may be overlooking some of the cool new things your Mac can do. REGISTER TODAY.

WHAT CAN YOUR MAC DO NOW?

  • Siri
  • Photos
  • iTunes
  • Picture in Picture
  • Tabs
  • Optimized Storage
  • Using macOS® Sierra with other Apple devices and services

WHEN AND WHERE

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017, from 5:30 to (approx.) 6 p.m. at Connecting Point‘s new home:

1251 E. McAndrews Rd., Suite 114
Medford, OR 97504

Seating is limited and by invitation only. Registration and confirmation are required to attend. There is no cost to attend this event. Once you register, you’ll receive a confirmation email with additional details. CLICK HERE or call 541-773-9861 to reserve your spot. All attendees will be issued a coupon at seminar’s end, good for discounts of up to $250 on a new Mac, as well as substantial savings on AppleCare®.


Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. AppleCare is a service mark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.