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How Much Could A Ransomware Attack Cost You?

Have you ever thought about how much your data is worth? Information is possibly the most valuable part of your business – there’s your client database, accounting software and inventory management, and of course, any intellectual property you may own. When the ransomware, WannaCry, tore through the world recently, many businesses were suddenly forced to re-assess the value of their data: was it worth saving, and what would be the deeper cost of the attack?

Most ransomware attacks cost $150-$600 to get your files released, but that’s only IF the cyber-criminals honor the payment and actually give you the decryption key. Meanwhile, new client calls are still coming in and you may find yourself unable to operate with your systems down. Paying the ransom or restoring from an unaffected backup seems like a quick fix, but it doesn’t end there. There’s still the downtime involved to restore all your data – possibly days – and that’s a lot of lost productivity. Plus, if word gets out that your data has been compromised, you may find confidence in your business plummets and your existing clients head elsewhere. That $150 ransom may end up costing well over $150,000!

Prevent Ransomware Attacks on your Business

Keep your systems up to date: WannaCry took advantage of a flaw in older versions of Windows, one that was since patched by Microsoft. But to be protected, businesses had to be up to date with their patches AND be running a supported version of Windows. Delaying patches and updates puts your business at risk – we can help you update automatically.

Lock down employee computers: Very few staff will require full administrator access to your business network. The higher their level of permissions, the more damage a person can do – either accidentally with a whoopsie click, or by inadvertently installing malware. By locking down your employee computers, you have a better chance of containing a malware attack to non-vital systems. Our experts can design an access management plan that gives you best of both worlds: flexibility PLUS security.

Educate your workplace: Most employees believe they’re being cyber-safe but the reality is quite different. Many malicious links and embedded malware have become hard to spot in an instant – which is all it takes to click and regret. We can work with your staff to establish procedures around checking links for authenticity before clicking, awareness around verifying the source of attachments, and the importance of anti-virus scanning. We’ll help get the message through!

Have a solid backup plan: When ransomware hits, a connected backup = infected backup. Unfortunately, synced options such as Dropbox immediately clone the infected files, rendering them useless. The only safe backups will be the ones both physically and electronically disconnected, with systems designed to protect against attacks like this. Our experts can set you up with a backup system that makes recovery a breeze.

Be proactive: The best way to avoid the financial cost of a ransomware attack is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Remember, many businesses were able to watch WannaCry from the sidelines, completely unaffected and seizing opportunities while their competitors were down.

Our managed services can help protect your business against the next cyber-attack.

Call us today!

Dropbox Reasons

Does Dropbox Make Sense For Your Business?

It seems so easy! Drag your files into a Dropbox folder and you’ve got yourself a file sharing system that brings your business in line with modern expectations. But then again, maybe not.

Dropbox has grown to become one of the main file sharing and cloud storage solutions of choice, with a core simplicity that’s hard to deny. But for business, that simplicity comes with a catch. In some cases, sticking with the familiar blue box can provide good value, and of course, it never hurts when your staff already know how to use your software. In other cases, you’ll need to consider alternatives designed to meet your needs more explicitly.

When Dropbox is a Good Choice

Micro-sized: If your business is small with no more than a handful of employees (or none);

No sensitive information: This includes accounts, customer details, vendor, staff or proprietary data; plus

Nobody ever accidentally deletes anything: Dropbox is a syncing service, which means when a file is deleted, it deletes it from all machines. While the file is recoverable from the Dropbox website within 30 days, by the time you notice it’s missing, it might be too late.

If you’re thinking those attributes sound more like a fictional business, you’re not far off. Somehow, Dropbox’s popularity in the consumer sphere has snuck into business environments, despite the risks. Key amongst these is the fact that Dropbox is designed for syncing, NOT backup. This means while your data is sprawling across all connected devices, it’s a mirror of the source only – when you delete or change the original file, the Dropbox version immediately syncs with it. In some cases, this can spread malware between your connected devices and put all of them at risk.

Your business also misses out on important security controls, such as user-level access control and password protected links. Rather like a free-for-all, the shared files are sitting there available to anyone with either a connected device or an unsecure weblink. You’ll also miss collaborative editing, losing out in productivity and data resilience as multiple employees overwrite each other simultaneously, with no record of who even opened the file, let alone changed it.

If Dropbox makes sense for your business, there’s no reason to change. But if it’s clearly not a good choice for you, there are multiple corporate grade syncing solutions. These are designed for business with security, encryption and collaboration controls built in. Rather than the easiest solution which may pose a risk to your business and digital security, consider implementing a scalable solution that meets all your needs.

Call us at 570-779-4018 to discuss syncing solutions for your business

Spring Cleaning For Your Computers!

Spring is in the air here in NEPA! April is right around the corner. It is starting to warm up. You can feel the power of the spring sun. I can’t wait until it is in full swing so we can open the windows and breath the fresh air. However, before that happens, you should take care of all your computer issues so that you aren’t stuck inside recovering from computer system problems!


Spring Cleaning For Your Computer Systems!

When was the last time your computers were physically cleaned inside? Dirt and dust can accumulate on fans and filters causing poor circulation and increased the average temperature inside the computer and laptop case. Heat is the enemy of computers. It can cause odd issues like the PC acting peculiar, programs closing unexpectedly, slow performance, and shorten the life of your computer hardware. It is one of the main causes of unexpected computer system failure.

How about the system software and Windows or Mac OS (operating system)? When was the last time you had a thorough checkup? You need to keep your PCs and servers up to date so that security holes can not be exploited. Reviewing your current security system to find out if there are any more steps you need to take is a great idea as well.

Does your network or wireless need any firmware patches, system updates? Or maybe it is time to consider an upgrade due to aging equipment.

Our Spring Cleaning Service

  • Internal Cleaning – Remove dirt and dust from filters, fans, and physical surfaces
  • System Update – Patch the windows or mac OS to the latest version
  • Software Update – Patch all software to the latest version
  • Security – Make sure your security system is up to date and working properly and review possible network security holes
  • Network and Wireless – Update to the last software and firmware and review for possible hardware upgrades
  • Battery Backup – Verify they are working properly and replace if needed
  • Software Backup – Verify your backup software is working, up to date, and review your disaster recovery plan
  • Storage Needs – Review the data and programs that you still use and remove the ones you don’t

Each customer is unique so the cost will depend on your system size and configuration. Please call (570) 779-4018 for a free estimate.

Our pricing information can be found on our service pages.

Take 20% OFF Spring Cleaning until April 7th!

Call (570) 779-4018 to schedule an appointment before they are all taken!

Spring Cleaning! Time to freshen up your computers!
Spring is on the way!! Our soon to be Tech deep in thought.

You can afford security in your business!

I hear it all the time. We are only 5 users. I can’t afford security. Why would someone try to hack into our firm? What we have works just fine.

Hopefully, you have never had to rely on your home or car insurance but there is a reason for it. Think of taking steps protect yourself from cyber criminals as insurance. It is MUCH more expensive to recover from an attack. Beyond the time spent for a professional to help you or paying the ransom, you may be liable for your employees and customers data.

You need security

You need security to protect you, your clients and your business.

The trend of malware being directly targeted at small business continues to grow. 2016 was the year of ransomware and 2017 is shaping up to be worse. Small business has the most to loose. You are the most likely to pay. You are becoming their favorite target.

You can do something about it!

Here is a sample quote for a five user single location office with a local file server. This assumes that there is a basic network, PCs and a server in place.

Some of the items in the list could be optional depending on your current office configuration.

pfSense® Security Appliance $225.00
Wireless Access Port AC $130.00
8 port “smart” switch $70.00
Miscelanous patch cables and parts $50.00
Install and security configuration $500.00
Total $975.00

Opt in for our Gold level service for $50 a month per workstation and $150 a month per server and receive:

  • 24/7 Network Monitoring
  • Daily Backup Monitoring
  • Patch Managment (Your systems, router, and programs always up to date)
  • Year-End Technology Review
  • Monthly Audit and Tune Up
  • Endpoint Software Included (Anti-virus and Anti-malware)
  • Cloud File Backup up to 250 GB
  • 4 hour Guaranteed Response
  • Next Business Day Guaranteed On-site
  • Hourly rate reduced 20%


This configuration would last years and you gain the following:

  • High-speed secure wireless with expandable coverage and a secure guest wireless and captive portal option
  • High-speed VOIP (Voice over IP) friendly router and firewall that is much faster, flexible and expandable than a consumer class option
  • Snort IPS/IDS (Intrusion Protection/Intrusion Detection) that can be custom configured
  • Multi-level malicious website protection and website content control
  • Endpoint Security from Avast and AVG
  • Easy to configure site-to-site and remote VPN configuration so you can access your files from home

This is just an example. Depending on your demands and how secure you want to be, we may need to modify this to fit your requirements.

Give us a call at 570-779-4018 to discuss your options!


5 Undeniable Reasons Your Business Is Ready for Professional Network

Way to go! Your business has grown at lightning speeds and you’ve been adding new workers and computers along the way. Now that you’re sure everything is on track to succeed, it’s time to level up your network to a robust, scalable setup.

Why? Here are the top 5 reasons to call in the networking professionals today:

Speed: They say time is money, but time spent waiting for a large file to transfer person-to-person or across a bottle-necked system is torture. As a small business this lost time was negligible, but as your business has grown, so has transfer time. While it may only be 5 minutes a day to start, with roughly 260 work days in a year, that 5 minutes a day turns into 21 hours. It all adds up. Unfortunately, the impact of this lost time reaches well beyond the time taken to pass a flash drive around the office or queue up downloads from the internet – it’s a break in workflow and concentration that can almost double the time off-task.

Efficiency: Almost every business requires employees to share digital files. Until now, you may have gotten by with a simple setup and minimal security, but as your workforce has grown, so has your network load. Each computer, storage drive and device adds further burdens onto your network, resulting in a slower transfer, errors, time off task, and even faster hardware failure. A professional network design will give your employees a central file storage location, with the added benefit of auto-saving and backups. No more losing hours of valuable effort or surprise file corruptions, just a scalable, secure server with smooth and efficient transfers.

Collaboration: Employees often need to work together on the same documents. Previously, this required them to take turns, waiting until someone else was finished before the file was available. With a modern network setup, collaboration becomes an organic, profitable way to work. Employees don’t even need to be in the same physical location, opening up opportunities for remote collaboration.

Confidentiality: Every business needs to keep a few secrets. Whether they’re trade secrets or accounting data, you have complete control over who sees what. Your network professional will be able to establish a setup that meets your business’ unique confidentiality needs. Perhaps you’ll have the CEO able to see everything, sales staff can only see sales data, and accounting can only see accounts. Set your access controls based on name, department, role or go further and require passwords for certain folders.

Flexibility: Expand your connection flexibility with wireless networking for employees who are required to roam within the building, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for those working at home, or even docking ports for those who switch between locations. A professional network setup will always support the way your business works, both now and as you continue to grow.

Your business’ ability to securely share, store and transfer files will be one of the key contributors to continued growth. The speed, efficiency and flexibility you build into your processes now will save you time, money, and a whole lot of frustration. It’s time to celebrate how far your business has come by looking to the future, with a robust, scalable network that supports your vision.

Give us a call at 570-779-4018 to discuss your new network.

Four Simple Steps To Paperless

So your desk is buried in paper, your shelves are overcrowded with stacks of documents, and you’ve carved out just enough space for your keyboard, mouse, and coffee? It’s time to go paperless, not just for your own sanity, but to streamline the entire business. It’s the one move that saves time and space while gaining flexibility for your mobile workforce. When you’re ready to adopt paperless processes, consider these 4 steps:

  1. Leverage the cloud for storage and search: Documents can be uploaded, viewed and edited only by those with permission. Google Drive is the easiest tool to begin implementing paperless storage and collaboration, though Evernote and Microsoft OneNote are also strong contenders. No matter which you choose, you’ll be able to easily find files using search functions, and no longer need to remember whether it was filed by name, subject or category – just enter what you need and let the system locate it for you. Then simply update, share or email the file as required. No more filing cabinets or archive rooms, just clutter-free workspaces, room to breathe, and possibly even lower overheads now that you could fit into a smaller office space. Digital files will also allow remote access, perfect for working on the go or telecommuting staff. Access files at any time using your secure login, on any device, from any location.
  2. Provide training across the board: Establish ongoing training to ensure all workers are up to speed with the new system and the way you’d like things done. This is the time to set standards for file and folder names, new collaboration norms and security protocols. Long-term adoption will require cooperation from workers at all levels of the business, and training for everyone will go a long way towards success.
  3. Scan necessary papers: The move towards digital files often requires a step back to scan necessary files into the system. Many of the office grade multifunction printers offer double-sided feed scanning, so you can quickly scan papers into the system and then dispose of the paper. Alternatively, you can obtain special scanning hardware like the Fujitsu Scansnaps. Any new paper documents can be scanned likewise, and even faxes can be set to accept digital files only. Each file will digitize to quite a small size, so running out of hard drive space shouldn’t be a concern.
  4. Prioritize backups: The best way to prevent file and document loss is to have a robust backup system, including a regular off-site backup. Treat your backups as a vital insurance policy, so that your files are readily available and intact if required. Use your backups to address any issues as soon as they arise and keep your new paperless files well-managed and secure.

Ready to go paperless? We can help. Call us today at 570-779-4018.

NEPA – Need online backup?

Need an online backup solution for your home or business in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton area? We have been using IDrive for years and love its ease of use, affordability, and reliability.

Remember, a good backup is the first line of defense against ransomware! And with IDrive, even if some of your recent data becomes corrupted by a disaster or virus, you can go back in time and retrieve a previous version of the data.

For Residential users: IDrive can backup PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, Android and Facebook pictures in one account.

For Business users: IDrive can backup servers, Exchange, SQL, NAS, and Mobile devices as well as PC and Macs.

Have too much data to backup? Worried about bandwidth? You can send your data via external drive to IDrive and they will load it to your account for you. That way, you are only uploading changes.

Extra worried about security and don’t want to back up to a public cloud backup service? Try IDrive Vault Private cloud. It works like a private copy of IDrive that you store in your own Amazon (AWS) account.

IDrive is HIPPA, SOX, GLBA and SEC/NASD complaint. If you need help getting is set up, call us to set up and appointment.

Give it a try here: https://www.idrive.com

IDrive Remote Backup

Ransomware: It is not just a scare tactic

It is not just a scare tactic, and it is not going away

Ransomware activity continues to rise, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down for 2017. In 2016 it spiked by 6000%, and it is on track to be a 1 billion dollar a year “business.” IBM study.

Software teams are building ransomware kits to sell on the Dark Web. RaaS (Ransomware as a service!) is a thing. This means there are illegal companies making money from designing kits to build ransomware. So, not only are criminals making money from ransomware, the distributors don’t even have to be good at programming or hacking to do it. There is enough of a demand that a small team of programmers is making money from selling the software to commit the crime. It is also making it extremely hard for old fashion virus scanners to catch the activity because each criminal is adding their own twist.

How it happens

  • Phishing email
  • user clicks on link or attachment
  • ransomware makes contact
  • C&C server generates & retrieves an encryption key
  • ransomware scans infected a machine, looking for files
  • ransom demand
  • connects to other machines and infects them
  • ransomware builds an inventory of encrypted files
  • scan other machines over the network

Business Targeting

It used to be consumers or simplistic shotgunning techniques. Now there is more and more direct targeting. Business targets make sense to the bad guys. Consumers or individuals might just start from scratch, but businesses are more likely to pay a ransom. It is much more lucrative form them to target small business.


Spearphishing is direct targeting your personal account using techniques to fool you into trusting the source. The criminal could use social media sites to gather information. The email may be crafted specifically for you and may even look like it comes from a person you know. One click is all it takes. And it isn’t just email anymore. Messaging, texting, and other apps can lead to infection.



What do you do about it?

Backup! Backup! Backup!

Step number one should be making sure your backup is up to date and ready to be restored. One “newer” option is DRaaS (disaster recovery as a service) but even a simple disk backup is better than nothing. Regardless, you need to spend time analyzing your current setup and determining if you need to take further steps to protect your data. If you have multiple, granular, safe and secure backups and can restore your data, you don’t have to pay the ransom.


Keep your devices and systems on the latest version and patches. This should include firmware. Less exploitable software and devices mean that if you do get infected, it is less likely to spread.

Endpoint Protection!

Yes, you still need endpoint protection. While signature based isn’t what it used to be, companies are making strides and it is still worthwhile. You should look for something with anti-malware, anti-ransomware, and anti-exploit features. And you should protect all your devices: Mobile, desktops, laptops, physical and virtual servers.

Network/Gateway Security 

This should include some type of email protection even if you are using an outside source (Gmail, Office 365, Hosted solution) to host your email. You should also have a firewall with a strong IPS/IDS (intrusion protection system/intrusion detection system). Use VPNs whenever possible. This includes cloud and virtual. Do not make the mistake of assuming that these technologies make your network safer.

Also, please do not use a consumer class gateway/firewall. And if you insist on using one, change the default password!

Establish a Security Policy

This one may sound simple but it is possibly the most important and hardest to implement. You need to train your users. You need to train yourself. You need to have plans in place in case something does happen.

Ransomware: It's is not just a scare tactic
Ransomware: It is not just a scare tactic

Why your small business should worry about cybersecurity

Why do you need to worry about security in your small business? I hear many excuses: I can’t afford it. No one will hack me. Who would want my data? I never go to bad sites or open a suspicious email.

Small business is a prime target for hackers and criminals because of these excuses. Because you have little protection, you are easier to break into. If you had criminal intentions, would you start by hitting Fort Knox or the corner store? In a new scheme, some hackers are using smaller firms as a launching platform to attack larger firms. So, you may be infected and not even realize that they are stealing your data as well as your partner’s data.

Did you know you can be liable if you lose your customers data? Maybe you knew CPA firms; Law Offices; Healthcare are all liable. But did you know any small office or retail store could be held accountable? This is especially true if you haven’t made a good faith effort to protect your customer’s data. If you house any of the following data, you need to be extra vigilant:

  • Healthcare data (HIPAA and HITECH)
  • Financial data (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Red Flags Rules of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, the Bank Secrecy Act)
  • Credit information (Fair Credit Reporting Act)
  • Information obtained from children (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)

Do you have Cybersecurity Insurance? You should. Even small businesses need it. But what does it all mean? How much do you really need? You can save some money if you already have security systems and practices in place.

When to Call in an IT Security Consultant (from PCmag article here…)
There are going to be things you can’t do alone as a small business owner,” said ADP’s O’Connell. “For very important contracts, you get outside legal advice. For annual and quarterly financials, you have an accountant. Same goes for security expertise. When you need to test a site to make sure it’s web-safe, or conduct a risk assessment, it’s money well spent it if you don’t have the expertise to do it yourself. You’re not doing the electric or the plumbing in the building yourself; it’s about knowing when you need help.”

Protecting your data and network doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many cost effective solutions. Let us come up with a plan that suits your business and budget.

Herstek and Associates, LLC.



Get More From Your Firewall!

Simple to use and fast.

The Sophos XG Firewall combines instant visibility of key security areas with intuitive policy management, painless navigation, and blistering performance.

Security Heartbeat™

Advanced attacks are more coordinated than ever. Now your defenses are too. Our revolutionary Security Heartbeat™ lets your endpoint protection and firewall talk to each other. It’s a simple yet effective idea that means you get better protection against advanced threats and spend less time responding to incidents.

Powerful management and scalability

Sophos XG Firewall provides unprecedented visibility into your network, users, and applications right from an all new control center. You also get rich, on-box reporting as well as the option to add Sophos iView for centralized reporting across multiple firewalls.

  • Sophos Firewall Manager Centralized Management.
  • Sophos iView Centralized Reporting.
  • Clustering and Redundancy.
  • Flexible Deployment Options.

Optimized for the Enterprise

Sophos XG Firewall delivers the ultimate enterprise firewall performance, security, and control.

  • Fastpath packet optimization technology with up to 140 Gbps throughput.
  • Revolutionary Security Heartbeat™ for improved Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and response.
  • Patented Layer-8 user identity control and visibility.
  • Unified App, Web, QoS, and IPS Policy simplifies management.
  • App risk factor and user threat quotient monitors risk levels.