Ransomware is used by cyber criminals to hack a device and encrypt the files.  They then ask you for a payment to decrypt the files if you are lucky and they do give you the key.  Unlike other computer viruses where they can usually be removed after infecting your device, the only way to resolve a ransomware is to have the key to decrypt the encryption, which usually only comes from paying the ransom.  Ransomware is a costly cyber crime, with WannaCry estimated to have caused losses of $4 billion and NotPetya upwards of $1.2 billion.  It is not something to be taken lightly and the best form of protection is prevention and preparation for what to do in the event of a ransomware attack.  Anti-virus and anti-malware software is no longer enough to protect against these attacks, you need robust layered security measures, procedures and protocols, training on how to deal with suspicious emails and never postpone or cancel updates on your devices.

Several key points to ensure that you protect yourself from ransomware are:

  • Always use robust antivirus/antimalware software
  • Always purchase legitimate software where updates are regularly available to keep it secure
  • Use layered security such as firewalls & device/network monitoring systems
  • Backup your data regularly and ensure the backup you use detects ransomware attacks & protects your data accordingly
  • Keep your device security and software up to date
  • Use a password manager, they are very well priced and can make life so much easier for you.

The best way to protect yourself from a ransomware attack is to avoid and prevent, due to it being highly unlikely you will decrypt the files without the key from the hackers.  This explains why we always recommend installing anti-virus and anti-malware software and why we encourage you not to postpone or cancel updates on your devices.  This also highlights the importance of a good back up system, so that if you do get attacked by ransomware, you can restore from the last clean back up and at most lose a couple of hours to a day’s work.

We have a couple of previous articles on these points which go into more detail on Windows updates here and on back up systems here  and here.

When trying to reduce your chances of downloading ransomware onto your devices practising good online habits such as using complex passphrases and changing them frequently, avoid suspicious websites or downloading files from unverified sources will also help prevent a ransomware attack.  If you have any concerns about your device or network security in relation to ransomware please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.  Lets make IT work for YOU.

With World Backup Day approaching on the 31st of March we wanted to highlight the importance of a backup and encourage everyone to run a backup on the 31st of March, especially if you have never done a backup before!

We have previously covered the topic of why a backup is important and tips on how to chose a suitable backup service for your circumstances which you can read here:

Why is a backup important?

Today lets highlight the top 3 reasons why you need to implement a backup system.  Software as a Service (SaaS) apps do not back up your data, examples of these are Microsoft 365 and Google Mail.  Now these services will assure you that THEY won’t lose your data, but what if YOU lost the data?  In a recent report by Aberdeen Group (Read the report here) the top cause of data loss is human error.  Consider your most important document to your business, how well could you cope if you lost it forever or at best had to wait 6 hours or more to retrieve it, could you survive?

Cyber attacks are not slowing down. In the first half of 2020, ransomware attacks increased by 715% exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, there are at least 3.4 billion fake emails being sent every day around the world (Read the report here) all attempting to gather more information to determine email accounts to target their attacks on.  Coupled with the fact Microsoft reported 480,000 accounts were compromised by “spraying” attacks.  This is where the attackers run a common password such as “Winter2020!” against numerous accounts until they have success.  If that number sounds big, compare it to the fact Microsoft stop 300 million fraudulent sign in attempts per day!  Same as thinking about that business critical document, what would happen is you couldn’t access your email account for a day or more?  We have a great blog article with advice on setting strong passwords here to help protect yourself from spraying attacks.

The evidence in the Small Business Reputation and the Cyber Risk report (Read the report here) shows that cyber security attacks are damaging SMEs, its not just the large multi national corporations that are targeted.  89% of SMEs reported that cyber breach ramifications are “huge and long-lasting”.  30% of SMEs surveyed reported lost of clients and 29% a reduction in their ability to win new business.  So combined with losing current clients, you could also struggle to replace that business if you don’t protect your data.  These costs far outweigh any capital and monthly costs of implementing a backup solution.

On a positive note, 4 in 5 small businesses with a comprehensive Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) recover from ransomware attacks within 24 hours.  The average cost of downtime as a result of an attack for 2020 was $274,200 which has almost doubled since 2019.

If you have a comprehensive backup solution in place, such as a Datto system which is MJD’s chosen backup partner of choice, you can reduce that downtime cost considerably and not have to even consider paying the ransom to then also pay a MSP to decrypt the data as well.  Not to mention the unproductive time of employees unable to perform your core business activities without access to your data.

If you are interested in implementing a Datto Backup System, or would like some advice on a backup solution please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

We always recommend that our clients install a UPS along with their server or business critical PC, but often we get asked the question why it is necessary and do they really need it.  Today, we want to explain how a UPS works and why it is an important part of your network and IT infrastructure within your company.

UPS stands for Uninterruptible Power Supply.  It can also be known as a battery backup.  The job of your UPS is to provide backup power in the event of a power cut or voltage drop it can also stop dangerous electrical spikes or surges damaging your equipment.  The battery power within the UPS is then used to safely shutdown your server in a controlled manner to protect it.   A UPS could also be chosen with a correct size of battery to allow continued operation until a generator has started up in the event of a power cut, allowing safe operation until the generator takes over providing power to your premises.

A UPS can have other electronic equipment connected to it to protect other systems as well.  This is where calculations are carried out to determine the size and model of the UPS required to provide enough power to shutdown all systems connected to the UPS.  This is why it is important at the point of any new server or replacement server work or critical device that we liaise with our clients to determine if there are any other mission critical systems within their network that they may want to include within their UPS protection.  For example, some clients required their phones system to continue operating on the battery power and be able to be turned off in a controlled manner to avoid damage of an uncontrolled shutdown from a power cut.

So, now the why do you need one.  Let us explain what would happen to your server if a power cut were to happen with no UPS.  If we explain it first in terms of working on your PC and creating a new file.  You’re half way through saving the file and power goes out.  The PC hadn’t quite finished writing the new file to your hard disk and has stopped half way through.  You will have more than likely lost this document and any work carried out on it.  Losing one file can be frustrating and probably lost time of around an hour let us say for this example’s sake.  If we now think of our server, which is being accessed by numerous users and is responding to and actioning numerous process requests from these users’ devices that are connected to it.  This means they are constantly writing data about every single one of these requests.  With a server, it will be a lot more than just one file that is corrupted!  It could be a database used by all staff and require specialist IT support to repair it after an uncontrolled shutdown and this will all require intervention from your IT support to resolve the issues.

This is why we recommend installing a UPS from the start with your server.  The relatively small capital investment in the UPS hardware can potentially save you more hours of IT support than the cost of the UPS device itself.  You could potentially see your return on investment after just one power cut!  As you are able to start up where you left off once power returns because your server was able to shutdown in a controlled manner.

However, a UPS requires maintenance and monitoring to ensure that it is still working as required.  As the device ages, it may need a replacement battery to ensure it can hold adequate charge to protect the systems connected to it.  As part of our advanced remote server monitoring software we are able to receive notifications from our client’s UPS devices which may have battery warnings, loses communication with the device or are no longer able to provide sufficient power for the duration the device needs to safely run or for a controlled shutdown.

If you have any questions about your own UPS or would like to explore getting a UPS installed after reading this post please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD and let’s get IT working for YOU.


We often get asked this question when discussing backup solutions with clients new and old.  So today we are going to explore what a backup is, why it is important and the criteria to consider when determining the backup option best for your business or personal requirements.

First, lets consider the situations which could easily happen despite your best efforts to mitigate these circumstances:

  • Someone accidentally deletes a file(s) on your server/shared storage device
  • Someone internally with malicious intent deletes important files
  • A virus enters your network and begins to delete or encrypt data
  • A physical event, such as flood/fire/theft/drop means your devices no longer function or are not there anymore!

A backup is a second copy of your data which is stored separate to the original copy and would be used to restore the data/system in the aftermath of a data loss event.  With our reliance on our computer systems to run our businesses and equally our personal lives, a successful backup is the key element of a disaster recovery and business continuity plan.  Currently, without back up solutions in place and in the face of a data loss event, recovery and continuity are impossible and extremely costly.

There are 6 key criteria which we should consider when choosing your backup solution:

  • Comprehensiveness
  • Ease of use
  • Recoverability
  • Performance and Reliability
  • Affordability
  • Scalability

The solution that you chose should be comprehensive, by this we mean it should provide you with all the protection and functionality you’d require in a data loss event.  So whether this means a cloud based backup solution, as well as on-premise backup would be required or whether just one of these solutions would be sufficient.  This needs to be considered when deciding the requirements of your back up and recovery plan.

Your backup should be easy to use and implement, to minimise cost and time used and to ensure when the time comes you can quickly and easily restore your systems, minimising down time.

Recoverability; arguably this will be the most important deciding factor when choosing your backup solution.  How quickly and easily can you get your system up and running again?  Can you virtualise your system to allow you to get working almost straight away again while you rebuild the physical system and deal with the data loss event?  These are questions you should ask of your potential backup solution providers, to help you determine which solutions meet your needs.

While it’s all very well that your backup is quick to recover and get you running again, you still need this to perform and be reliable every day it backs up your system.  You also want to ensure that it is able to back up the system quickly when changes are made, so looking for incremental solutions can increase the speed of performance of your backup solution.

We began the post highlighting how essential a backup is to your business continuity plan, however, we understand this doesn’t mean there is a limitless budget for this.  We understand this can be a difficult decision to make, when weighing up monthly costs it is important to consider the financial impact of the downtime between the data loss event and being back to running your business again.  How many days could you survive with your cash flow without being able to access your systems and conduct your business normally?  This can then help to determine your budget for your backup solution.  In our personal lives, this can often be the deciding factor in the solution we use for our personal photos and files, and we would ask you to think of your most treasured photograph.  If you were to lose the digital file and unfortunately all the printed copies, how much would you have paid to save that photo?  This will help you to determine how important your digital files are and therefore what backup solution you should look to implement.

We need our IT solutions to grow and adapt with us, so it is important to consider how your chosen backup solution could adapt and grow with you.  If your backup is limited by size, but 6 months down the line you need to increase the size and this incurs high costs, this hasn’t been a feasible option.  Therefore, if you have planned growth you want to chose an option that will be able to grow with you and adapt to suit your needs.

When considering these factors, MJD recommend and work very closely with our backup partner Datto.  They provide a range of on-premise and cloud backups, and can have a combination of both to ensure that your backup solution covers all your requirements.  The team here at MJD are always happy to help and discuss your requirements and help you to choose a suitable backup option for your individual circumstances.  Just get in touch and lets make IT work for YOU!

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