Comp-U-News from Comp-U-Talk

April 2016

Curiosity killed the cat.  ~ Mom


It’s been a slow week in Lake Wobegon…  Well, truthfully, I have no idea what happened in Lake Wobegon, but I do know that it has been an uneventful month at Comp-U-Talk.  The big news nationally is several hospitals fell to ransomware.  Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles was offline for more than a week and eventually paid $17,000 to get their data back.  Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Kentucky declared a state of emergency but was able to restore their system from backups.  The latest casualty (March 28) is MedStar Health, located in the Maryland/Washington DC area.  At the time of this writing, (April 5) there still hasn’t been an announcement of full function restored.  Although, it does appear they will be successful at restoring backups and won’t have to succumb to paying the ransom. (


Those in the know have determined the hospitals where attacked thru unpatched servers.  That’s good news and bad news for most of us.  Assuming your name isn’t Hillary, then you probably don’t have a server in your home and you probably don’t need to worry about keeping it patched.  That’s the good news.  But servers are the exception.  Bad news: Most ransomware infections get started by users haphazardly clicking on links in a phishing email.  Ransomware is also birthed by following “rabbit trails”,  the myriad of ads and links displayed on popular websites.  There is no guarantee those links are clean.  In fact, I was astonished to learn that thru the underground, crooks can pay approximately $2500 to have their app inserted into the top 100 free app list ( and tutorials teaching how to commit cybercrime are available for 35 cents to $500.  That’s petty cash compared to $27 million received in ransom paid during a 6 month period in 2014.  (  Who said crime doesn’t pay?


So how do you protect yourself?  There are a couple of ways.  First, pay attention to what you click on.  As kids, mom always harped that curiosity killed the cat.  (We later learned that fast moving cars can kill cats too, but that’s a whole different subject.)  As an adult employed in the computer technology field, I’m really beginning to fully understand what that “kill the cat” statement means.  Just because the email or the link looks appetizing doesn’t mean it is good for you.  Some of the payloads will make you very, very ill.


Second, keep your systems patched, keep your antivirus software current, keep your adblockers turned on.  If you need help with any of this, contact us.  We will talk to you. 


Human error is by far the largest contributing factor to malware infections.   If you are part of a business, we can arrange for employee training with a short video course and a monthly refresher of what to watch out for.  It’s low key and low cost, especially when compared to the downtime caused by trashed data.


If you compute in a networked environment, we suggest getting a network penetration assessment to check for vulnerabilities from both inside the building and from the outside.  Prices vary based on size and type of network.  We would love to help you secure your network.  Contact Janet for more details.


As always, Surf Safe, Stay Safe




skydive with google earth 

And because it made me laugh: I’ve never been skydiving, but I’ve zoomed in really fast on Google Earth… (