Will Ransomware Cell Phone Attacks Reach the U.S.? (And what to do if you get infected)



cell phone attackTwo weeks ago they hit iPhone users in Australia and New Zealand. This week the reports came in that they’d hit Android users in Eastern Europe, specifically Ukraine. We’re watching, waiting to see if-and-when one of them will hit Western Europe and the U.S. — Oleg Pliss and his kin, Simplocker. They’re not people; they are a new round of cell phone viruses, and the difference is that they’re ransomware. Pay them money, or they threaten to hold your contacts, pictures, or even your whole cell phone hostage.

Sound familiar?

No, viruses for cell phones aren’t new. In fact, there’s a whole slew of mobile device virus protection software (Lookout, AVG, Avast, etc.). Trouble is, ransomware is notorious for getting around anti-virus protection.

Early reports indicate that, at least in the case of Ukraine’s Android virus, Simplocker, the level of encryption isn’t as complex as Cryptolocker. That doesn’t make it any less annoying, though. And according to some reports it does no good to try to pay Oleg’s ransom because the payment is linked to a PayPal account that doesn’t exist.

So, being a bit freaked out about this (even though my phone is a Windows platform, which hasn’t yet been affected), I asked my guys, the techs here at Everon, what I should do if my phone were hit by ransomware.

“The best thing you can do is to just wipe your phone,” Jeff Woods, one of our experienced L2s, said.

“And then reload all of your info from your backup,” Frank Lindsey, the L1 Supervisor added.

Um, okaaaay…? I felt like a kindergartener in college. Wipe my phone? And… is it automatically backed up? How do I do that if it’s not?

“Well,” Frank said, “if your cell phone is registered with us, at Everon, you could call and we can do a factory wipe for you. Or most cell phone providers can also do that, if you just call Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, or whomever.”

“Alternately,” James Schaffer, another of our L2s, said, “you could perform your own wipe in your phone’s settings.”

I checked my phone’s settings and couldn’t find where to do this. James told me to go to “Settings” -> “About,” and then click the button that says “Reset Your Phone.” (Of course, this only works if your phone isn’t locked by a virus.)

As far as doing backups, it turns out most phones do have automatic backup features. But iPhones, for instance, have to be plugged into your computer to perform their backups – something many iPhone users never do (they only charge the battery). And then there are the settings on the backup. If you’ve only told it to back up your contacts, you run the risk of losing any pictures you haven’t manually saved. (Or already posted to Facebook.)

There are programs you can use to do your auto-backups, too. Google Drive will automatically backup your mobile data. Dropbox, Picassa, Facebook, and Google+ are other sites that will also perform auto-backups on your data and/or photos if you adjust their settings correctly. (Ah, more settings. Good thing I have tech support here!)

So if your mobile data is all backed up, and you do get infected with something evil that needs last-resort measures, like ransomware, all you have to do is wipe and restore. (One site I found estimated this process would take no more than an hour.) Easy-peasy. If you’ve backed up your data.

Sometimes the best defense is just the ability to recover.


Dropbox is increasing their tier sizes to paying users for free!


There is some great news coming down the wire from drop box, for its paid user accounts.

Recently the Dropbox Company revealed that it would be increasing the storage space available to its paying users at no extra cost! Dropbox is planning on raising the 50 and 100 GB tiers with 100 and 200GB tiers for FREE! This will allow users to really take advantage of online cloud storage.

Also, there is great news on the wire for power users too, Dropbox plans on pushing out a 500GB plan for those users that require much more space, allowing more file portability for businesses! There is no word yet however on how much this will cost, but keep your eyes peeled.

These upgraded Dropbox plans will went live late night Tuesday 7-10-12, and the DropBox team converted all the paid users by early Wednesday morning 7-11-12.

What is this Dropbox some might ask? Dropbox is an innovated online storage solution. No more need to loft hard drives and pen drives around anymore. As long as you have internet access, you would be able to grab your files off the internet. The days of accidently forgetting to bring a pen drive or leaving a file on your local desktop at home are now over!


Offsite Backup - Keeping your data safe


These days, in our world of high speed internet, and cellular data speeds that can provide streamable video, larger and larger data storage needs are growing in our personal computing lives.  As we grow these vast data stores with our pictures, documents, music, and more, it becomes even more imperative to keep our personal information safe and protected.  Many companies have arisen in the marketplace that provide fantastic storage backup, syncing, and redundancy solution.  So the question is, “what solution is right for me?”


- Solutions like Dropbox (dropbox.com), Box.net, One Hub (onehub.com) provide solutions where you can not only keep your data offsite, but can also synchronize with multiple computers’ local data stores.  This allows for easy collaboration, management, and redundancy across multiple locations.  The dangerous part of this kind of a solution is the chance of accidental deletion.  Box.net allows you to keep versions, but many other solutions just pull the data from the servers, and you’re file is gone..so if you delete it and let it sync, all your synching computers lose the file.  SO …make sure you have a good local backup running continuous as well with this kind of solution.


- Some of you may have heard of Mozy, or Intronis, or Carbonite, who are three of the bigger offsite backup providers in the marketplace.  These services pride themselves on the “Set it and Forget It” model.  Basically, you sign up ($50/yr typical price), run through the easy to use installer, and just let it roll!  Your chosen file types (documents, pictures, music etc..) get backed up continuously offsite to redundantly backed up data servers in multiple locations.  These are usually 256 AES encrypted connections that provide safe and secure connections to the servers, and I highly recommend this type of a solution.


- Some solutions do both…Sugarsync, Soonr, 1Backup. - these solutions are considered an all-in-one, that can give you file sharing across multiple groups and computers, and offsite backup in case of disaster or emergency.  Very strong solutions indeed, except that typically, these connections are not the most secure, and there is more of a chance of hackers or identity theft.  Now don’t get me wrong, these are secure connection, they’re just not the MOST secure.

All in all, there are many fantastic offsite backup and file sharing solutions in the marketplace.  So it’s really up to you to choose the one you’d like to use, and you always have Google as your friend to research and find the right one.