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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A New Hacking Trend? USB Drives

If you receive a mysterious USB drive in your mailbox- don’t open it!

In Australia, residents have been receiving unmarked USB drives in their mailboxes. Upon plugging in these drives, users see what appears to be a promotional offer from Netflix or another streaming service.

Those who proceeded with the installation found that it didn’t contain free entertainment, but rather infectious ransomware.

In more recent years, ransomware has become an ever-increasing threat. Viruses are used to steal data and use IT machines for nefarious purposes. Ransomware can give criminals an immediate payday when someone is successfully infected. Ransomware works by encrypting files stored on the machine and unlocking payment methods stored within the machine.

Moral of the story: If you receive an unmarked USB in your mailbox… Throw it away!



Friday, October 14, 2016

October: National Cyber Security Month

The popularity of social networking sites continues to increase, especially among teenagers and young adults. The nature of these sites introduces security risks, so you should take certain precautions.

While the majority of people using these sites do not pose a threat, malicious people may be drawn to them due to the accessibility and amount of personal information that's available. The more information malicious people have about you, the easier it is for them to take advantage of you. Predators may form relationships online, and then convince unsuspecting individuals to meet them in person. That could lead to a dangerous situation. The personal information can also be used to conduct a social engineering attack. Using information that you provide about your location, travel plans, hobbies, interests, and friends, a malicious person could impersonate a trusted friend or convince you that they have the authority to access other personal or financial data.

What can you do?
  • Limit the amount of personal information you post
  • Remember that the Internet is a public resource 
  • Be wary of strangers
  • Be skeptical
  • Evaluate your settings and privacy policies - Take advantage of a site's privacy settings.
  • Be wary of third-party applications
  • Use strong passwords, and change them frequently
  • Keep software, particularly your web browser, up to date
  • Use and Maintain anti-virus software · Be cognizant of the company you keep. If you receive strange or unusual requests from ‘friends’ it is possible their account may have been compromised or cloned.

Friday, October 7, 2016

October: National Cyber Security Month

Ransomware is a category of malicious software that can literally hold computers hostage until a ransom is paid. Across the world, thousands of computers are impacted by this malware. The virus will digitally lock (encrypt) the files on a computer rendering the pictures, spreadsheets, and other documents completely inaccessible to the user.

Ransomware usually propagates via infected email attachments, website downloads, and USB drives. Following infection, the malware encrypts all files on the computers’ hard drive and any connected network drives. Those files remain encrypted and inaccessible until a ransom payment is made. Often, the malicious actor places a “self-destruct timer” to instill a sense of urgency in the victim and threatens that if ransom is not paid by a certain date, the files will be inaccessible forever. Victims that do not have adequate data backups have a decision to make: pay the ransom or lose their documents. Many times, even if the ransom is paid, the criminals do not remove the encryption and in some cases, ask for more ransom payments.

BIT has, unfortunately, had to rebuild an agency computer compromised by ransomware. Coincidentally, we have seen many email messages with malicious ransomware-infected attachments. Efforts to fight ransomware continue in information technology and law enforcement departments worldwide. Nearly a year ago the FBI and Interpol had been provided the decryption keys for files locked by a specific ransomware application This success followed the public issuance of an indictment against a Russian hacker who was a primary contributor to the development of many ransomware applications. This victory was short lived, however, as newer versions of that ransomware and closely related clones of that software, such as CryptoWall and TorrentLocker, are back in business.

So how can you help prevent a ransomware infection?

  • Don’t open or click on links in unsolicited emails, and don’t download files from untrusted sources.
  • Do not use free or found USB drives.
  • Backup, backup, backup! BIT regularly backs up data stored on network drives. However, individual files stored on a computer are not backed up by BIT. Make sure to backup your files on your home computers.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Please Welcome Our New Employee Josh Schaefer!

Josh Schaefer recently joined BIT as a LAN Services Technician. Originally from Pierre, Josh attended the University of South Dakota where he majored in History and English.

Prior to working at BIT, Josh worked for River Cities Public Transit as a dispatch lead and tech support. Josh says he most looks forward to being able to work on computers and solve problems.

In his free time, Josh enjoys building and working on computers. He explained, “I have also been an avid gamer since my first Atari 2600. Sadly for my bank account, the two of these hobbies mean I am obligated to put new upgrades into my home desktop computer about every 6 months.”

Additionally, Josh has an ever-growing collection of books, primarily consisting of fantasy and non-fiction military history. He also enjoys playing and watching a handful of sports. Some of his favorite teams are Notre Dame (football), Chicago Cubs (baseball) and Liverpool FC in the English Premier League (soccer).

Welcome to BIT, Josh! We are happy to have you!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Marcia Graves: A Quilting Extraordinaire

Marcia Graves, a software engineer for Development, began quilting almost 40 years ago when she made a baby gift for her nephew who is about to retire from the Army- and still has the quilt!

It took Marcia about two weeks to make the quilt with the dogs and about a month to make the pastel quilt. When asked what the hardest part of the quilting process was she explained, “Nothing is hard. It takes some effort to get the corners to match but it is so great when they do. The really fun part is hunting for just the right fabric. Sometimes it takes months to find just the right piece!!”

Marcia explained that with her quilts she does the patchwork and has friends who do the quilting; which once again involves finding just the right pattern. She elaborated, “for the dog quilt, the pattern is shotgun shells and for the pastel quilt (I call it Sea Glass) the pattern is called ‘surf’.”

Marcia joked, “I have an artistic side and since a paint brush is a weapon in my hands, I have to find another outlet. I love picking out the patterns and colors and then seeing them come to life in the finished product!”

We look forward to seeing your future creations, Marcia!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Please Welcome New BIT Employee Colin Morris!

Colin Morris has recently joined BIT as a Software Engineer for Development Team 1. He is a recent graduate from Dakota State University where he majored in Computer Science and Game Design. Colin is currently working on programming the new retirement utility program!

Being a recent graduate from DSU and having this be, as Colin puts it, his first “real world experience with having a job,” he was slightly apprehensive that he might not fit in around here. As it turns out, quite a few of Colin’s fellow DSU graduates are now working for the state as well!

Colin is originally from South Carolina and is engaged. In his free time you can find him playing video games, hanging out with friends, and playing lacrosse.

Welcome to BIT, Colin! We are excited to have you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Marcia Graves: Software Engineer and... Drag Racer?

About 15 years ago, Marcia Graves decided to pick up new hobby. What may you ask? Well, drag racing and road racing of course!

Road racing is done on closed public highways with the racers competing to come closest to their own specified average times for the course.

Marcia explained, “I had kids when I was young, so when they all left home I had time and money to pick it up. I have always loved fast cars and have wanted to do it since I was a teenager.”

Since her racing career began, Marcia has used 4 different cars. Two were Ford Mustangs for drag racing and two were Corvettes for road racing. She went on to explain:

“I have to depend on friends to help with the maintenance, so my drag cars are pretty docile - they only run about 112 in the quarter mile. I wrecked my first Mustang at the track and found another. Had a little better luck with the Corvettes, sold the 1st one to finance the second.”

On the weekends when the races are going you can usually find Marcia at the Oahe Speedway participating in drag racing events. Throughout the year she also attends two road racing events, one in Texas in April and the second in Nebraska in August. Coincidentally, Marcia just returned from the event in Nebraska where her 2007 Corvette Z06 did 195.7 mph in the standing mile!

When asked what she likes most about racing Marcia explained, “I love going fast! I am an adrenaline junkie!”

Want to see Marcia in all her glory? She will be at the Oahe Speedway racing on August 27th and 28th and then again on Labor Day weekend!