Ban ransomware payments

Should ransomware payments be banned?

The Government have been recently lobbied to ban ransomware payments. They have been asked to prohibit companies and individuals being able to pay ransom demands. Cyber criminals try to scam organisation with cyber-attacks using ransomware malware. The prohibition of ransom payments would cut the flow of income to attackers. As well as shutting down the desire to hit U.K. citizens and companies with ransomware.

Prohibition of ransom payments for ransomware could mean there is no point in cyber attackers going after U.K. Alexander Culafi a news writer from Search Security explores the ban ransomware payments story in more detail.

Ransomware payments

A security firm involved in the business of combating ransomware has called for a government ban on the
payment of ransoms by companies. There was no other practical solution other than to ban ransomware payments.

Paying ransomware demands could be illegal

Companies paying ransom when attacked by ransomware in an effort to retrieve their data has always been controversial because it encourages future attacks. Now, doing so may also be illegal.

The U.S. Department of Treasury today warned that paying ransomware demands may be illegal and that companies that do so could be prosecuted.

The warning came in advisories from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Both warned that any company that paid a ransomware payment, or a third party that facilitated a payment, could be prosecuted in the case that the hackers demanding the ransom were subject to U.S. sanctions.

There is an exception: Companies that are considering making a ransomware payment can do so but only with government approval.

Specific attention was given to third-party companies that facilitate ransomware payments. “Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber criminals, encourage future ransomware payment demands. They also may risk violating OFAC regulations,” the Office of Foreign Asset Control said in its advisory.

Ransomware payments are controversial

Paying ransoms in ransomware attacks has always been controversial. Firstly, a serious ransomware attack could and has seriously crippled companies and cost them. Secondlay, hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business and costs. Finally, sometimes paying the ransom to obtain access to core business files is arguably worth it.

The counter-argument is that every single time a company pays a ransomware demand, it encourages future ransomware attacks. Hacking groups know this, which is why they keep deploying attacks.

An expert’s opinion

James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at security awareness training company KnowBe4 Inc. compares ransomware to the Italian Mafia.

“Many years ago, in Italy, there were many kidnappings by organized crime groups of the wealthy and affluent families,” McQuiggan told SiliconANGLE. “They would request large sums of money in exchange to return the victim’s loved ones. The kidnappings got so bad that the Italian government initiated a ban on paying any ransom to organized crime groups. The government would seize all financial assets to prevent the kidnapped families from getting the money to pay.”

He went on, “At first, the crime groups called the bluff of the families who couldn’t pay and killed the family member. However, after a short while, the organized crime groups realized they couldn’t pay, and quickly, the kidnapping and ransoms came to an end.”

Returning to today’s advisories, McQuiggan said that even if an organization wishes to pay the ransom, it would have to collaborate with the U.S. Treasury, FBI and other government agencies to send the funds. “The U.S. government’s recommendation of not paying comes with a similar notion of not negotiating with terrorists. Never pay the ransom when involved with kidnappings and thus, the anticipated action of reducing ransomware attacks,” he said.

Stay protected with LIS

Unfortunately, we are unable to stop cybercrime. However, we try and help prevent it. Our clients benefit from our Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus and Office 365 Security Package solutions. Can you afford to take the risk?

Practice safe IT. STAY PRODUCTED! Contact the LIS HELP DESK to discuss your options.

LIS – Securing your digital world

#Ransomware #Cybercrime #Security #ITSupport

 

 

Digital Services Tax

Retail giantAmazon will NOT be impacted by £500m digital services tax. However the smaller retailers will be, HMRC admits. However, traders who use the site will be, the HMRC has revealed.

The Guardian claims the online retailer will only have to per a 2% charge on revenues it receives from third-party sellers trading on its marketplace. In June Rishi Sunak signed a letter alongside counterparts in France, Spain and Italy declaring that tech giants needed to ‘pay their fair share of tax’.

Seven months after the tax was announced, HMRC has revealed Amazon, paid £293million in taxes. On sales of £13.73 billion will not be affected by it.

Digital Services Tax

The Digital Services Tax was announced in March. With the hope that Facebook, Google and Amazon would make a ‘fair contribution,’ the Treasury had said. ©AP

  • Two per cent on tax on internet giants will not impact Amazon, HMRC admits 
  • Treasury said Digital Services Tax would make companies pay ‘fair contribution’
  • Business leaders say the tax is penalising smaller companies who use Amazon  

With Amazon expected to cover the cost by charging higher fees. This results in putting it at an advantage compared to the businesses that use the website.

Should the Digital Services Tax be ditched?

In August it was reported that the Treasury was considering ditching the tax. Mr Sunak concluded that the £500million a year it is expected to raise is a pinprick compared with the hundreds of billions of pounds dent to the nation’s finances caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

Business groups have criticised the levy following this latest revelation. Lord Leigh of Hurley told the House of Lords: ‘It is clear that the UK government is not taxing Amazon properly. It is allowing it to avoid tax on its own sales through the marketplace’.

‘This puts regular retailers at a significant disadvantage. The digital sales tax does not achieve its objective of yielding more revenue from the likes of Amazon. However, it is simply passed on to its suppliers in the marketplace, which have to absorb this tax in their margin.’

Announcing it earlier this year, the Treasury described the levy as ‘a new 2% tax on the revenues of search engines. Including, social media services and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users’.

Businesses should make a fair contribution

The Government department hoped the measure would ‘ensure large multinational businesses in-scope make a fair contribution to supporting vital public services,’ it wrote in March.

The British Independent Retailers Association has voiced its own opposition. They warned the tax has penalised smaller retailers while giving Amazon the edge.

An Amazon spokesman said: ‘Like many others, we have encouraged the government to pursue a global agreement on the taxation of the digital economy at OECD-level rather than unilateral taxes. Rules would then be consistent across countries and clearer and fairer for businesses.’

IT does not have to be taxing

Who is likely to be affected? Large multi-national enterprises with revenue derived from the provision of a social media service, a search engine or an online marketplace to UK users. This is you if your website turns over more than £25 million in the UK! Hats off if you fall into this category. You are one of the few as the Government had some very specific targets in mind when devising this tax, introduced by the Government as of 1st April 2020.

Unfortunately, we are unable to help Amazon with their tax problems! However, LIS clients do benefit from our years of IT experience. Contact the LIS Help Desk to see how we can help your business. With an approach based on the socially distanced human touch, our knowledgeable team will help you achieve your business goals.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Digital #Tax #ITSupport #Business

EE switch on 5G

EE switch on 5G mobile network in UK towns

Mobile operator EE (BT) has started to extend their new 5G ultrafast mobile broadband network. This now covers an additional nine towns and cities across the UK. Including locations such as Southend-on-Sea, Stirling and Weybridge. Since the EE switch on 5G project launch, Internet coverage and speed are even better for customers.

The development means that EE’s 5G network are now live across busy parts of 80 UK locations. It will take a long time to reach the same level of coverage in each areas as has already been achieved by existing 4G networks. The operator’s website lists “Stirling” under towns, although these days it is usually described as a city.

At present the operator is only able to harness a 40MHz slice of the 3.4GHz radio spectrum band for their 5G service, although more bands are due to be released by Ofcom later this year (e.g. 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz). Nevertheless, they have so far been able to deliver better speeds than rivals at Vodafone, O2 and Three UK, although it remains to be seen whether this will last.

EE Switch on 5G

According to independent 5G testing by RootMetrics, EE’s 5G network achieved the highest average download speed and highest 5G availability in London, Birmingham and Cardiff.

An increase of speeds as EE switch on 5G

The operator has previously told customers to expect an increase in speeds of around 100-150Mbps from the EE switch on 5G scheme. Even in the busiest areas and at the same time they also predicted that “some customers” may break the 1Gbps (1000Mbps+) milestone on their 5G smartphones. The fastest speed possible when EE launched 4G in 2012 was just 50Mbps. But getting 1Gbps in busy urban areas, with only 40MHz of spectrum, is likely to be quite rare.

The most recent data from Opensignal did however confirm that their customers were achieving an average 5G download speed of 149.8Mbps (Megabits per second), which is well above the typical 4G average on their network of 33.1Mbps.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said: “A year ago, we started
the UK’s 5G journey by launching the first 5G network. In just one year,
we have already seen several incredible experiences and real-life use cases
that 5G enables, both for consumers and businesses, and there is still so
much more to come. 5G technology will continue to make our customers’
lives easier, make our networks more efficient, and help launch entirely
new ideas and businesses that we haven’t yet imagined.”

3 key benefits of 5G

A better connection in busy places: Ever struggled to get online while at a music festival or in a stadium, even though you appear to have a full signal? You will know how frustrating it is when your content eventually uploads much later or sometimes not at all. This happens when too many people try to connect in one place at the same time. Networks reach their limit, and everything slows down.

The 5G network will give you a more reliable connection in the busiest places and at the busiest times. That is because 5G has a greater bandwidth than 4G and can support more devices. So, you can stream sports in a stadium, download videos at a busy train station and share photos while partying at a music festival.

Faster speeds, better quality: 5G gives you faster mobile speeds than ever before. Making everyday tasks on your 5G-ready smartphone feel super-quick.

You will be able to download films onto your phone in seconds instead of minutes. So, if you are stuck for something to watch on the way home from work you can watch the latest blockbusters and box sets. Stream in the highest resolutions and watch big sporting events in all their glory. Enjoy smoother and better overall video calls.

Instant connection: 5G gives you an almost instant internet connection. So, whether you want to play a video, load an app, or control smart devices in your home, everything feels super-quick with 5G.

The faster speeds at which the 5G network responds to your commands is important for gamers, because it responds even more quickly to your button commands. What is more, 5G opens up exciting possibilities for new augmented and virtual reality experiences. This will transform the way you play games on the move.

Faster speeds for business

LIS clients benefit from our business telecoms services. Contact the LIS Help Desk to see how we can speed up telecoms and save you money. We have it all, and they are all delivered to you with our impeccable IT support.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#5G #Telecoms #MobilePhone ~#ITSupport

Cope without the Internet

Part 1: How would you cope without the Internet?

Let us look at a day in a life of a person without the Internet. Believe it or not, it is still possible to function, you just to need adapt to your surroundings. In a recent Metro article, Ike Iwuchuku reports on how he managed to cope without the Internet.

You wake up every morning and start your routine which, for most of us, includes catching up on the news. Whether this is about your friends, celebrities, sports, or current events, it usually begins on your smartphone or your tablet. Even on your commute, you have got a podcast or Internet radio station going.

Once at work, you are sending emails, video conferencing, researching and sending a few texts. Unless you have excessive website blocks at your office, you are probably also checking your social media. Finally, you head home and zone out to some Netflix and have one last browse through social media before going to sleep.

However, what would happen if the Internet vanished? We are not talking as if the Internet was never created. Imagine what life would be like without the Internet. What would really happen if we were not so connected?

Cope without the Internet

Given the amount of time people spend face down in their smartphones, swiping on their iPads
or glued to their laptops, life without the internet seems hard to imagine.

Life without the Internet

Some purists might argue that having no Internet would be the best thing to happen. They are the same people who think it is horrible and that all Millennials do is Instagram all day. They are not entirely wrong. Studies show that such incessant social media use can negatively impact our lives.

Cons of having no Internet

Of course, it is easy to discuss how life would be miserable without the Internet. It would be a lot harder to talk to your friends on a daily (or hourly) basis. But it would take away a sense of community that, for many of us, is vital. This could be anything from fantasy sports leagues or even virtual mental health groups. As a result, we may be more disconnected than ever before. You would have to go to a shop and buy a digital file in person to access new music beyond the radio. Possibly one of the biggest downsides would be the lack of dog or cat photos in our lives.

What are the benefits of no Internet?

On the other hand, being cut off from the Internet might do wonders for our personal relationships. Because we would not have a screen to distract us. We would start to live in the moment. Imagine heading out to a dinner with your friends and having a conversation. Although it still may be about gossip, it would focus on the real world. There are plenty of benefits to a life without the Internet. In particular, it is worth noting that you would get to truly interact with people. The benefits are not just about the time we spend awake. Our addiction to connected devices is ruining our sleep. It is possible in the short term to cope without the Internet.

What would change and how would you cope without the Internet?

News: The way we take in news and information has been impressively quick thanks to the internet. Without it, we would rely on TV programs, newspapers (yes, actual newspapers), and, worst of all, word of mouth. If you think politics has been strange lately, imagine it with even fewer sources of information and no way to verify their credibility. We imagine politics would take a surprising turn, although we are not really sure which direction that would be.

Health: The long-running joke is to never use the Internet for your symptoms. Otherwise you will end up thinking you have five types of cancer and the plague. However, having access to an online directory of symptoms has certainly helped millions. With such platforms, we can self-diagnose with a degree of accuracy. This saves us time and money on health-related costs. Without it, there would be a lot more and possibly unnecessary trips to the doctor. Even still, medical professionals now rely on a connected network to pass along patient data and research conditions. Having no Internet would slow this process down for sure.

Work: Working without the Internet seems like an impossible task. Whether you have an international team or simply advertise locally, the Internet has a profound effect on our productivity. Without it, we would rely a lot more on spoken word of mouth, advertising in print and on TV, and take days to complete even the smallest tasks. Additionally, global commerce would be impressively slow and tedious, if not impossible for some brands. On the whole, scaling as we do in the current market would be all but unattainable.

Commerce: Likewise, our shopping experiences would become drastically limited. In regards to fashion, trends would slow as it would take longer to spread new styles. From there, it would be very difficult for global sales and innovation would suffer. Imagine technology without crowdfunding campaigns (that is not a world we want to live in).

Finances: Having an app to show all our finances in one place is certainly something we take for granted. Without the Internet, you would be back to a standard cheque book and calling your bank to find out your balance. It also means paying bills would take much longer, as banks would also be less connected.

Social life: Hanging out with friends would go back to the methods of yesteryear. You would need to send letters to far away friends or probably get back to paying high rates for long distance calls. Want to make plans? You would better hope your friends remember the event date. However, we would rely on in-person interactions which would encourage us to get out and see each other more often.

General information: Gone would be the days of Google Maps. Researching for a school paper or a project at work would require a library card and some serious effort. Unless we archive the entire Internet and hit print, we would lose a lot of access to information, never to be seen again. Ultimately, our society would suffer from this lack of knowledge.

Law and order: The Internet has been an essential tool to help law enforcement identify and arrest suspects. It is also a powerful method to finding evidence. Having no Internet would certainly take cyber-crime off the table, but it would leave a gaping hole for all new crime. Knowing the limits of CCTV where there is no cloud or digital locks or alarm systems, criminals would be more likely to commit more crimes. At least initially, our society would experience a large spike in crime before new methods could take the place of current systems.

In conclusion

Suffice to say, the Internet has bettered our lives. We can communicate with every corner of the globe. As well as maintaining friendships that were previously impossible no matter how good of a pen pal you were. However, life is about balance. LIS can help you cope without the Internet and make sure you stay connected. We have the Internet at our disposal and have the choice to use it for just about everything. We highly recommend signing off every now and then to connect with those, and the world, around you.

Contact the LIS Help Desk about your broadband and telecoms. We can provide you with super fast broadband, that will make your business more efficient and stay connected with your team. Talk to our experienced team about your phone systems and business mobiles. As well as, saving you money with low cost phone calls.

Stayed tuned to read part 2 of this blog next week. We will take a look at how businesses would cope without no Internet. LIS will help set up a business disaster recovery plan.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#homeless #NoInternet #ITSupport #Business

Google Chrome Warning!

Be careful when updating your browser. Google Chrome Warning!

A fake Google Chrome update hit the Internet this Summer. Hackers tried to gain control over systems using an old technique. The fake update installs the banking Trojan Zeus and remote-control software. This allows hackers access to your PC, online banking and anything else that takes their fancy. TechRader  take a look at the Google Chrome warning!

Whilst peoples focus is on pandemic issues, hackers are taking advantage of their lack of attention to maximise their returns. Maybe their furlough payments are coming to an end 🙂 .

Using several different methods of attack, hackers are highly sophisticated. The initial attack examines your geographical location, computer and other factors. They then decide whether you are their victim of choice. It then tailors the next phase to any perceived weakness you may have.

Users are fooled into thinking to run the Google Chrome update. In reality they are installing a Trojan and remote-control system by the Google Chrome warning scam.

Google Chrome Warning

Google Chrome users are being warned against a convincing and dangerous new online scam. The fake “Google Chrome update” scam gives hackers total control over your device.

Hackers come up with a fake Google Chrome update

Google Chrome is undoubtedly amongst the leading browser software worldwide. Billions of people use Google Chrome making this an easy target for this sort of attack. Security conscious users know that updating apps is important to keep the bad guys at bay. Taking advantage of this, the scam uses a fake Google Chrome update page, to hook its victims.

If you click on the “Update Chrome” button, the dodgy website will download a hacked file. This then installs malware on your computer. The cyber-experts at ProofPoint, identified that one of the programmes used in this this attack is the banking Trojans Zeus. This program is designed to liberate money from the users’ accounts.

It gets worse

ProofPoint also noted similar attacks for Internet Explorer. Probably at the time of writing any other browsers you care to name. Remember, that also included in the attack is full commercial remote-control software. This opens your PC to full remote access from anywhere in the world. This will include access to online accounts, social media and good old-fashioned email.

Proofpoint’s Sherrod Degrippo in a statement explained that this technique is not new. However, it is still effective because it exploits the intended recipient’s desire to practise good security hygiene. He further mentioned that “keeping software updated is a common piece of security advice. As a result of this, hackers use that to their advantage”. Businesses have been targeted worldwide, including ProofPoint.

Security you never have to think about

You shouldn’t have to be a security expert to feel safe on the web. Chrome is easy to use and built to be secure. Contact the LIS Help Desk today to discuss your online security strategy.

LIS protects you from a range of deceptive and dangerous sites. Downloads may might steal passwords or infect your machine. We use the latest anti-spam and anti-virus software. Take advantage of our Office 365 Security package. As well as other cloud-based solutions. We’ll give you a clear understanding of your current exposure and of the impact such an attack would have on your business.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#GoogleChromeUpdate #ScamWarning #MalwareScam