5 Scary Technical Moments from our Teksperts

This month, in the spirit of Halloween, we asked our Teksperts, “what’s the scariest thing you’ve seen in technology?” This is what they had to say…
Scary Technical Moments

Ransomware is Scary
By: Amanda Galitz, Systems Development

I saw a new type of ransomware this week, unlike normal ransomware, removal doesn’t solve the entire problem. The Cryptolocker finds all of your personal files and wraps them in strong encryption before it demands money.  On top of this it will also encrypt files on any network drives that you are working on as well. Once it damages your files, a pop-up appears demanding 300 euros in order to fix the files it has just damaged.

At this time, not all of the anti-virus software options are able to catch this hijacker before it’s too late. There really is no way to undo the damage that this virus does to your files. The only saving grace for people who have been infected by this virus is having a good backup system. At this point, the PC can be cleaned up and files can be restored from a backup. People who do not backup their files are finding that the only way to recover their files is to actually give in and pay the money. Normally it is a very bad idea to actually pay what Ransomware demands, but people are finding that in this instance, paying Cryptolocker does in fact initiate the decryption process and the files are restored.

Researchers from a number of antivirus vendors are working on a way to undo the damage, but it’s not going to be easy. Decrypting Cryptolocker files requires access to both the public and private keys used to encrypt them. Until authorities get their hands on that second key, the NSA may be the only folks around that can reverse the process.

Saving Files in the Recycling Bin
By: James DeYarman, Customer Service Technician

This didn’t happen to me, it was a nightmare shared to me by another technician several years ago.  One of the company executives was upgrading to a new computer and needed to have his files transferred. It turned out he had been keeping his files in the Recycle Bin. There is one unique property to files stored in Windows’ hidden Recycler system folder, which prevented hundreds of these files from simply being cut & pasted to a more secure location: Files in the Recycle Bin can share identical file names.

The executive had been leaving all his documents unnamed, so imagine several hundred copies of ‘Untitled.doc’ containing actual important company data. All of them in the Recycle Bin. They would have to be individually moved and renamed before transferring to another computer. The technician was part of the company’s internal IT department, so the executive wanted him to perform this task.

I’m still a little hazy on why or how he started saving files that way. But I heard that if you listen carefully after hours, you can still hear that technician roaming the halls, typing and cursing…

To be serious, the closest I’ve ever seen to this is files being saved to the Temporary Internet Files folder. The user had simply downloaded their documents from the web and kept re-opening and saving them there instead of a more-accessible location (particularly one that isn’t erased by a push of a button).

Always save your important files somewhere safe and accessible, especially where it can be backed up such as a file server, and keep them organized with folders and descriptive titles. It will save you or someone a lot of time and grief down the road.

Not Logging Out on Your Computer
By: Thong Nguyen, Help Desk Technician

It’s really scary when users don’t lock their computers or log out of their profiles when they leave their desk for a meeting or when they go home at night. Always staying logged in increases your risks to security threats, information theft, etc. Anyone can sit down at your computer and send unwanted emails to coworkers or delete all of your files, or pretty much anything. Think about how scary that can get! More often than not, whatever happens on your computer, or with your profile, you’re usually held liable. Be responsible: log out of your computer when you’re not using it!

“Hey, Watch this!”
By: Tom Njus, Sales Engineer

A CEO at another company was giving a tour of the facility to a group of visitors. He entered the computer room and said to the group “I can make all the lights on the mainframe light-up by pushing this button…” You guessed it. They were down for 8 hours recovering from the system reboot. Moral of the story: have some type of security on the data center door and do NOT allow tours through the data center.

Need Versus Want
By: Josh Belden, Customer Service Manager

I think what scares me the most is people thinking they need the latest and greatest technology without fully understanding what they are getting themselves into. This is the basic need verus want concept. A lot of times, not understanding your own needs or what your current technology can do for you can be risky and expensive.

And that’s a wrap, folks. Watch out for our upcoming blogs this month, written by a few of our teksperts. Topics include other scary things about technology such as jumping on the technology bandwagon, budgeting, and backup failures. Stay tuned…

Born and raised on a horse farm in Marion, IA, Kenyon got her B.A. in English Literature from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. She returned to the area after graduating in 2011, and interned at several different marketing agencies prior to coming on as Marketing Coordinator for Tektivity. In her free time, Kenyon enjoys riding horses, studying ballet, and being with family.

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