With the recent cyber-attacks on large retail stores like Target and Neiman Marcus, businesses of all sizes must take proper precaution to ensure the security of both their own private data and the personal data of their customers. Aside from an innovative business continuity plan and secure IT support, an efficient business network relies on strong passwords from owners and employees.

According to The Washington Post, the Target hacker used software known as BlackPOS to infect sales systems and steal credit card information along with other financial records. The 17-year old Russian teenager then gained remote access by trying several easy and commonly used passwords, eventually logging in. Using “weak passwords” for your business’s cloud storage can leave your IT network exposed to personal data leaks. As the leading IT specialists, Brash Concepts warns businesses of the potential risk of using vulnerable passwords.

Here are a few IT consulting tips for strengthening your weak passwords to ensure your data remains private:

Strong Passwords: A strong password contains upwards of 14 characters. This includes a combination of upper and lowercase letters as well as at least one number and one symbol.

Use Mnemonic Devices: Do not use the same password for multiple devices and data libraries. Use the first letters of an easy sentence for a strong and unique password for each level of security. Example: a5Ceg: all 5 Cows eat grass.

Passwords Require Consistent Updates: When going through a system update or a network change, it is best to change your password to something new and equally complex.

In addition to privately monitored IT consulting from Brash Concepts, business owners and employees must take individual steps to protect their personal data. Weak passwords can easily leave your business’s confidential files susceptible to cyber-attacks and hacks. Secure your IT data center and develop a reliable business continuity plan with the help of Brash Concepts today!

Fear is a fantastic way to spread malware, which is why hackers around the world are using the fear of a flu pandemic as a hook to install a nasty strain of ransomware.

Researchers at MyOnlineSecurity have detected a cunning email campaign which spoofs the Centers for Disease Control and bears headlines warning of a Flu Pandemic.

The message is short and to the point, explaining that a flu pandemic has been detected and urges recipients to read the attached document for further instructions to protect their families and help keep it from spreading.  The instructions also helpfully include the note that in order to view the document properly you’ll need to click the ‘Enable Editing’ button.

The attachment bears the name “Flu Pandemic Warning,” which reinforces the message itself. It’s an excellent choice from the perspective of the hackers, because they know that a relatively high percentage of those who receive this message from what appears to be a trusted agency will open it.

Unfortunately, the moment they open the file and click to enable editing, they doom themselves.  The word document is poisoned and contains scripts that will install the GrandCrab v5.2 ransomware on the victim’s machine, which will promptly lock their files and demand a hefty payment.

While this is a nasty and especially effective campaign, it’s not the only one that the creators of Grand Crab are engaged in.  Recently, the Chinese government issued their own alert, stating that beginning on March 11, various government departments were bombarded with phishing-style emails intent on installing ransomware on their servers.

All that to say, vigilance is more important now than ever.  There’s no telling how long this campaign will run, or what may come after it, but one thing you can be sure of.  They’re not going to stop.