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Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware

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Bob Cole
Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 13, 2016 at 5:56:35 pm

Just heard a radio program, "On Point," about ransomware. Very scary - a growing threat.

Virus writers design for vulnerabilities in widely-used software, including that from Adobe and Microsoft. That is why it is important to keep your software updated; one of the main reasons software companies update their software is to seal up the holes which hackers discover.

I would infer that consumers who hold onto their old software, because they don't like subscription programs (including those from Adobe and Microsoft), may be at greater risk than those who ante up and benefit from the continuing effort to combat hackers.

I don't like subscription programs; in some ways they feel like a variation on ransomware themselves. But this may be a factor in your decision process. I would hate to be put into a position where I had to pay a ransom to "maybe" recover a timely client file.

btw, if you have a daily backup process, remember to disconnect the drives except when performing the backup. A ransomware virus may infect everything, including your backups.

Bob C


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Todd Terry
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 13, 2016 at 6:12:54 pm

As one of my favorite lines from Seinfeld attests... "People... they're the worst."

I can attest firsthand that there are probably different levels of ransomware. I've never had it happen on any of the work computers, thankfully, but twice I've had it happen on personal laptops. Each would freeze with some ominous warning screen, completely locking the computer, and urging me to call the displayed number to pay a fee to unlock it.

In both instances I got around it in about five minutes. I was able to hard crash the computer (just power off) and re-start it in safe mode. Then I just restored the computer to a restore point that was prior to the infection. With both computers I never had a lick of trouble after that.

Now, that's probably not the right way to do it, and I know the offending stuff is still there somewhere, and if I was ever doing anything sensitive on these computers I would worry about it more... but I wasn't, and it got me back up and running so I was fine with that.

I'm sure there are much more advanced levels of ransomware though that would take a great deal more scrubbing.

If I haven't mentioned it already, people... they're the worst.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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walter biscardi
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 13, 2016 at 6:46:17 pm

The biggest way to get ransomware today is the invoicing scam. You receive an invoice to pay and it's usually a .zip or .tar file. If you open the "invoice" it's really ransomware.

My web host has now put a block on all .zip and .tar files to move through email. I have to manually whitelist someone if they want to send me a zip file.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Craft and Career Advice & Training from real Working Creative Professionals

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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 13, 2016 at 8:59:32 pm

I have direct experience with ransomware, and it's very scary. A little over a year ago I was hired as a contractor to set up and run the graphics department at a new News station here in New Hampshire. It was a six month contract. About three months after they began airing, I suddenly received a panicked call from the newsroom saying that they couldn't access any of the graphics for the newscast (of course, blaming me). When I took a look at our server, I noticed that every one of our graphic files (.jpg, .png, etc.) had been replace by a graphic saying something like "All your files have been encrypted".

Upon doing a bit of digging and online searching, I found the same graphic, and it was indeed ransomware. We immediatly called our IT guys, who tracked down and purged the virus/malware which had encrypted the files, but, alas, the files were all now encryted. Fortunately I had made sure that I had a 2TB external drive which I backed up daily, and which was always kept in a drawer, offline. We ended up losing only that day's graphics, mostly those saved by the Producers (who don't back up anything), and the newscast was able to limp its' way through the day. It was pretty harrowing.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Ned Miller
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 18, 2016 at 7:54:50 pm

I've listened to a few in-depth stories on this on NPR and the poor man's way of prepping for this is to back up nightly, in my case Time Machine. Then the worst case scenario would be wiping my drive and reinstalling, which is a PITA but at least I don't have to pay many hundreds in Bitcoins to some bastard. Anything wrong with this technique?

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 19, 2016 at 1:58:43 pm

Ned -

You just have to make sure that whatever device you're using to back up your critical files goes is completely disconnected from the network after the backup is finished. In my case, the ransomware plowed across the facility network and found and encrypted every single bitmap file in the place. You have to have backup which is physically disconnected from the compromised network, or you're screwed.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Ned Miller
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 19, 2016 at 6:20:55 pm

Thanks Joe. Yes, I have a separate back up hard drive on my desk, it is physically detached from everything until I plug it in for Time Machine, I usually back up on Sunday nights but with this ransomware scare I may start doing it nightly. I realize the pitfalls of this low tech method, I was a firefighter for two years and have been in basements with home offices where either everything was melted like a Velveeta grilled cheese sandwich and/or deluged with water. Also, a buddy had an edit room in an office park and burglars took every computer, hard drive, anything appearing valuable before the police left the donut shop.

So...I realize I need to move to the cloud, especially since I am doing more post work in my old age. Do you know if backing up valuable files to the cloud is as effective as Time Machine? I'd rather not be worrying about my physical back up drive crashing, melting or being stolen, yet I don't understand how such large files used in post can get up into the cloud with my Comcast Blast internet connection. And will this protect me further from ransomware?

When the internet first started to be useful we were told to not have one's editing computer connected to the web due to the danger of viruses, but I now have gotten lazy and I do use my editing 27" iMac for the web just so grabbing downloads and files is easier. Do you think I should disconnect my editing computer from the internet?

Thanks

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 20, 2016 at 1:08:15 am

I can't imagine backing up all the files I have to the Cloud. Even though I have a 1TB Dropbox account and a fiber connection, it still wouldn't do the job. What I do have is a Drobo with 8TB of storage, of which 5TB is currently used. This is a partial safety net, since it's connected to my network, so it would be vulnerable to ransomware. My secondary backup is a bunch of internal hard drives, which I also back my projects up on - I have an Orico dock on the front of my HP Z800, which I periodically fill with projects, then remove them so they're not connected to anything. Before removing them, I catalogue them using Gentibus CD (a freebie), so I can find which drive the files are on without inserting them into the machine. I should really be storing these hard drives offsite, since I'm still vulnerable to flood, fire, and famine...

Depending on the size of the files in any given project, you might even get away with archiving them to DVD (the data, that is) and storing those offsite, by project. I have colleagues at the broadcast station I used to work at who still do it this way, and it works for them, but they're mostly doing spot production, so the projects aren't sizable.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Ned Miller
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 20, 2016 at 1:28:12 pm

Thanks again Joe! I think I need to pay for a post consultant to come in and work this out, over my head, don't think a Comcast Blast connection will suffice. When I have a large budget (important) gig I always farm it out to editors who deal only with post and they have similar systems to yours. However, when I have little mark up or it's very simple I do it myself and if worse came to worst I'd start the edit over or tell the client my house burned down, sorry!

I do believe I will wean my editing computer off it's internet connection just in case and keep the laptop close using thumb drives to drag client downloads over to the editing computer. I believe, from what I learned on this thread, will protect me from ransomware.

Thanks,

Ned

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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Nick Griffin
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 25, 2016 at 4:00:59 pm

For several years now I've kept an email computer beside my main work computer with the thinking being that anything malicious would come from one of the aforementioned email attachments. Perhaps that's not safe enough as all of our computers are on the same network. I do like the idea of only plugging in the Time Machine drive once a day, though. Of course there's no practical (cost effective) way of backing up the 24tb RAID. At the moment all I'm using on it besides the fact that it's level 5 RAID is an external 6tb drive, backing up the current projects. Any better ideas?

As to Ned's mention of fire damage, I have very fresh first hand experience with that. Everyone said, "With your computer experience surely you had back-ups, right?" Why yes, I did keep multiple back-ups of everything on bare drives in storage boxes. Problem is they were on a shelf in the same room, hence a lot of smoke and water damage. A couple of these drives work, but far from all.

For anyone facing this kind of situation DriveSavers is, and for me was, an excellent solution. They were able to recover the contents of each of the four internal drives and the one and only off-site 2tb back-up of the main drive allowed us to get back the applications.


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Ned Miller
Re: Sorta OT: Ransomware and subscriptionware
on Apr 26, 2016 at 2:30:13 am

I forgot to mention, I not only keep my Time Machine hard drive disconnected from the internet but I unplug it from AC power.

I had a neighbor whose tree was struck by lightning. The juice went through the ground, entered his house's electrical system somehow and BLEW EVERYTHING CONNECTED TO AN OUTLET OR POWER STRIP. And yes, he had surge protectors for his big screen TV, etc., just fried everything. That stuck in my head. I guess I need NASA certified surge protectors? I just have Best Buy level surge protectors.

My parents would make us get off the land line and not be in the shower during a Midwestern thunderstorm. So I suppose it can enter one's house? More reason to research cloud storage I guess.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com


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