ALERT: KRACK Wi-Fi hack threatens all networks. Here’s how to stay safe.

ALERT: KRACK Wi-Fi hack threatens all networks. Here’s how to stay safe.

A serious flaw in the Wi-Fi standard has left millions of networks, computers, and devices vulnerable to potentially devastating attacks. Once infiltrated, the so-called KRACK exploit allows hackers to monitor all traffic you send over your Wi-Fi network. That includes private information like passwords, login info, as well as social security and credit card numbers.

Just say “no” to KRACK

Connecting Point’s Service Manager, Jason Kellogg, spoke recently to Newswatch 12’s Sionan Barrett about the threat presented by the KRACK exploit, and what can be done to make your network, your computers, and your devices safe and secure.

If you’d like more information, you can read this in-depth article from PC World.

KRACK Wi-Fi attack Newswatch 12 Connecting Point Medford Oregon
KRACK Wi-Fi attack exploit hackers Newswatch 12 Connecting Point Jason Kellogg Medford Oregon
KRACK Wi-Fi attack hacking security Sionan Barrett Newswatch 12 Connecting Point Medford OR

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.

Are Today’s Cameras Cybersecure? 10 Tips to Avoid Camera Hacking

Are Today’s Cameras Cybersecure? 10 Tips to Avoid Camera Hacking

Guest post by Vound Software and Ghergich & Co.

Computer webcams, home security systems, and baby and pet monitors allow us to stay connected 24/7. These camera-enabled devices allow us to video chat with family members and work contacts and keep tabs on the safety of our homes, pets, and children with ease. But all this connectivity opens us up to some serious vulnerabilities. Cyber hackers can gain access to some of our most intimate moments if we don’t take the proper precautions. Thankfully, there are ways to protect ourselves-beyond covering your computer webcam with masking tape. Check out the infographic below to better safeguard your devices.

Are Today’s Cameras Cybersecure? 10 Tips to Avoid Camera Hacking

cameras cybersecure security privacy webcams

Deal of the Week | Feb. 12, 2016: Kensington MicroSaver Keyed Laptop Lock for $10 (reg. $45)

Deal of the Week | Feb. 12, 2016: Kensington MicroSaver Keyed Laptop Lock for $10 (reg. $45)

Kensington MicroSaver Keyed Laptop Lock for $9.99 (reg. $44.99)Protect your notebook from theft by locking it down. T-Bar locking mechanism and super-strong carbon tempered steel cable provide maximum protection that attaches to the industry standard Kensington security slot found in 99% of notebooks.

  • 6 ft, 5.5mm carbon strengthened steel cable anchors your notebook to a desk or immovable object
  • Attaches to 99% of notebooks with the T-Bar locking mechanism for superior strengthBuilt-in defense system guards against lock tampering
  • Safe Pro exceeds industry standards for tough security applications
  • Free Register & Retrieve on-line key registration for secure key replacement

The retail price for this security system is $49.99, and our regular price is $44.99. Yet this week, while they last, we’re crazy enough to let them go for a mere $9.99. Now you have no excuse for not locking down all your expensive electronics.


This offer runs from Friday, February 12th to Thursday, February 18th, 2016, or while supplies last. Sorry, no rain checks.

Deal of the Week | Apr. 17th, 2015: SyncStop Safe Charging USB Adapter for $14.99 (reg. $19.99)

SyncStop Safe Charging USB Adapter, on sale at Connecting Point for $14.99And now for something completely different…

In late 2013, a small, Portland-based independent security firm called Xipiter built the first version of SyncStop (which was originally called the “USB Condom,” until cooler heads prevailed) to scratch an itch: They wanted to minimize the risks involved with charging their own mobile devices in public areas.

When they tweeted about their invention, they were immediately flooded with emails and calls – and realized they were on to something big. The first production run sold out in a matter of days, spurring them to refine (and rename) their product.

Connecting Point is proud to be the first in our area to carry SyncStop, designed and built by another locally owned, independently operated business. And we’re inspired to offer this already-affordable gadget at a 25% discount, as this week’s Deal of the Week.

Click here to learn more about this week’s DOTW.

SyncStop – Charge Safely from XipiterSec on Vimeo.

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