Marketing Your Creative And Business Ideas Since 1996
A Certified NYS Women's Business Enterprise

Protecting Yourself from Ransomware

Unfortunately, Ransomeware is the word of the day. What is it and how can you protect yourself?

What is Ransomeware?

Ransomeware is typically spread through email. When an unsuspecting person opens the email attachment, the virus uses a flaw in the operating system to lock down a user’s computer and encrypt all files until s/he pays a “ransom” to get an unlock code. If that computer is connected to a network, the virus will spread across the network, infecting everyone.  If your backup drive is connected to the network, it will infect your backup as well.

This particular strain is called “Wannacry Decrypt0r” and is asking $300 from victims to unencrypt their computers.  It is using a flaw in Windows operating system to run code that locks down your computer, encrypting all your files. In order to regain access to your files, you are prompted to pay a ransom. Infected users will see a screen that looks like the one to the right, courtesy of KnowBe4.

How Can I Protect Myself?

There are simple steps you can take to protect yourself now and moving forward.

  1. If your backup drive is currently plugged into your computer, remove it immediately. This will preserve your backup in case you are infected.
  2. Apply the Windows patch immediately. Microsoft has taken the extraordinary step of patching older, sunsetted, versions of Windows — this is THAT IMPORTANT.  Most systems updated automatically, but to check to see if you have the latest version. For Windows 10, Go to Start->Settings->Update & Security->Check for Updates.
  3. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date as well.
  4. DO NOT OPEN SUSPICIOUS ATTACHMENTS OR CLICK ON UNKNOWN LINKS — I can’t stress this one enough. Unless you are expecting a Word doc or a zip file from a friend or relative, do not open it. Once infected, computers spread the virus by emailing it out again to people in your contacts.  If the email message just looks weird and doesn’t sound like anything your friend would send you, do not click on the link.  If the email appears to be from your bank, PayPal, Google, email provider, or another service provider, go to their website directly and login normally. If it is a legitimate request, you will be able to get to the information that way.

Updating just your computer is not enough. ALL computers on your network need to be updated to maintain your network integrity.

What about Macs?

This attack needs to be a wake up call for everyone — not just Windows users.  Despite what some seem to believe, Macs are vulnerable to attacks like these. They are targeted less frequently because there are, overall, fewer Macs out there.  Windows-based systems are the primary systems used in major industries and government.  But, the rules for Mac users remain the same:

  • Keep your operating system updated
  • Use antivirus software and keep it updated
  • Never open an attachment when you do not know the original source
  • Never click on a link when you do not know the original source — phishing is a problem and gets many people. Remember that your bank, PayPal, Google, email provider, etc. will never email you and ask you to enter credentials before you can see the information. If there is any doubt, go to your bank’s website, email provider’s website, or PayPal directly and login normally.

Final Notes

A final note about IMC servers. We run Linux servers, so they are not affected by the current virus targeting Windows computers. We also have security in place to protect against attacks such as these and continuously review our servers to make sure they are running the latest versions of software. Security patches are installed automatically.

 

What People Are Saying

Thank you so much for all you have done for the company, it’s been a pleasure working with you and I must say I even enjoyed assisting with the development of the website.  The feed back we have been receiving is all good, we are so pleased with the outcome.

Thanks again it’s been a pleasure, I’m so happy we went through your company!!

Mary Lou O'Neil Rock Solid Composites

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Welcome to IMC 2017!

Welcome to our new website! 2017 is going to be exciting for IMC. We have two new team members — Nathan and Hannah — who have quickly become an integral part of our team.  We continue to work on and grow Arts Spark, expanding the concept to other markets as well. We are looking forward to what is to come and we look forward to continuing to work with you — or meeting you for the first time.

What People Are Saying

Thank you, IMC, for a wonderful art website that is a) easy to update, b) looks great, c) gets lots of positive comments, and d) has encouraged sales by allowing my work to shine.

Lukas is especially incredible (and patient!) to work with.  It’s been a pleasant and rewarding experience working on this with him and, in the end, I have exactly what I want.  Thanks!

Barbara Downs Artist

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Have You Met Arts Spark?

Arts Spark is a digital platform to help artists with the business of being an artist – and a project of IMC. After years of working with artists and arts organizations, we found there was a need in that community to help with digital marketing.  As we were working on a solution, we learned more about artists’ needs on the business side. So, we developed Arts Spark.  It is still a work in progress — we expect it to grow and adapt as needed.  Our first big event was the launch party on July 21. Our next big event is our first community discussion.  Growing Your Business featuring John McPherson will be held Thursday, November 3, 2016 at Saratoga Arts.  Learn more on the Arts Spark website.

What People Are Saying

Thank you so much for all you have done for the company, it’s been a pleasure working with you and I must say I even enjoyed assisting with the development of the website.  The feed back we have been receiving is all good, we are so pleased with the outcome.

Thanks again it’s been a pleasure, I’m so happy we went through your company!!

Mary Lou O'Neil Rock Solid Composites

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We are Hiring!

Customer Interaction Specialist

Interactive Media Consulting, LLC, a full service web site development and marketing firm in Saratoga Springs, NY, is growing! We are looking to fill an entry-level professional position dedicated to supporting our existing customer base and new customers from our Arts Spark project.

We are looking for a technically-oriented person with fantastic communication skills. Tasks begin with answering the phone and providing 5-Star customer support by:

  • Updating websites with new content using a variety of CMS platforms
  • Updating social media sites on behalf of IMC and clients
  • Assisting customers as they setup email on new devices
  • Answering questions customers have as they update sites using WordPress
  • Troubleshooting email and website issues, handing off to a programmer if necessary
  • Writing documentation and training customers
  • Creating email marketing messages using Constant Contact

The successful candidate will have the following minimum skills:

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and oral
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritize
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Ability to ask questions
  • Working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, WordPress, and various social media networks
  • Working knowledge of PC, Macintosh, mobile, and Gmail email systems

IMC is a fast-paced environment tracking multiple projects in development concurrently, with a primary goal of delivering a quality product on time. The right candidate will receive a competitive salary, personal time, paid holidays, and contributions toward health insurance.

To be considered for this position, please send a letter of introduction, your resume, and names of references to jobs@imediaconsult.com.

Interactive Media Consulting, LLC was founded in 1996. Since then, IMC has secured its position as a quality provider of web sites for small to mid-sized businesses and non-profits in the Capital Region and throughout the Northeast. Our capabilities include:

  • Web site architecture, design and hosting
  • Programming in HTML/CSS, PHP, jQuery, JavaScript, Perl, and VBScript
  • Web site/database integration with Access, SQL Server, and MySQL
  • Electronic Marketing
  • Social Media Consulting

Interviews will begin the week of September 24. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

What People Are Saying

I will be eternally grateful to you for what you have done to create this beautiful, fun, interactive web site.  You are AMAZING!!!

Vicki Latham, P.A. -C Toxin Clear

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We are Moving

We will very soon have a new address! On September 1, IMC is moving down the hall to a larger office suite. Our new suite number is 214.  On September 1, we will experience phone and internet outages as those services are moved to our new location.  We will be able to check in periodically, but please understand if it takes a little time to get back to you.

Feel free to stop by and see the new space anytime!

What People Are Saying

Thank you, IMC, for a wonderful art website that is a) easy to update, b) looks great, c) gets lots of positive comments, and d) has encouraged sales by allowing my work to shine.

Lukas is especially incredible (and patient!) to work with.  It’s been a pleasant and rewarding experience working on this with him and, in the end, I have exactly what I want.  Thanks!

Barbara Downs Artist

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20 Years Building Relationships

The business I started in my living room has reached its 20th anniversary this month. Where did that time go? Seems like just yesterday, but a look back at the technology progress over the years reminds me of our evolution.

Back in 1996 when I started my consulting company doing interactive training, and someone asked if I could “do those web things,” I had no idea that IMC would still be here today. In the past 20 years, we have served close to 500 different people, ranging from creating a simple graphic to developing a full-blown custom web site. Of all our achievements, I am most proud of the longevity of our client relationships. A number of our current clients have been with us for 15 years or more.

It is hard to be a jack of all trades, so we focused on our strengths. Early on, IMC chose to assist small and mid-sized businesses and non-profits. Sure, we could create “brochure web sites,” but we also had (and still have) programming chops, meaning we sometimes create custom web sites with complex back-end connectivity to client-side databases or other functionality.

While efficiency is key in our business, we have never been tied to so-called cookie-cutter solutions. In fact, I fought going from hand-coding to Dreamweaver back in 2000, thinking it was too automated. Finally, the web site management tools won me over. Thereafter, the decision to move to a web-based content management system (CMS) was easier—it just had to be the right CMS. Enter WordPress. WordPress made it easy for us to create professional web sites with custom features and still give clients the ability to update those sites from wherever they might be—no special software required.

Using a CMS does not mean we have moved solely to simplified, basic solutions. Every web site project is evaluated based on the needs of the client. We help each client solve a problem or answer a question. Sometimes that might incorporate a cookie-cutter component (like a widget that displays a Google map), but rarely is any site we develop completely an “off-the-shelf” solution. We can customize any type of site to do pretty much anything a client needs.

We also have had an affinity for the arts over the years. In fact, many of our donated web sites went to non-profit arts organizations. After listening to artists and arts-focused organizations, we created Arts Spark—a launch pad to help creatives market their music and art. We heard from so many artists that they just wanted to do their art and not have to worry about the marketing and technological stuff. The ultimate goal of the Arts Spark web site is to help artists with the business of being an artist. Keep an eye on Arts Spark as we start to roll it out across the country this year.

Ultimately, it is our people that make IMC a favorite resource for our clients. We often say we are “small by design” and that remains true. You know that when you call, Lukas will answer the phone and will most likely answer your question. You know that Emily will take care of your graphics needs and Jeff will work his magic to help you add features to your web site. Beyond the moment of glory we enjoy as each new web site launches, it is the lasting relationships with our clients that we are most proud of building and maintaining.

Twenty years ago, I was told by someone in a position of authority that I was wasting my time developing web sites. His take on the market was that the internet wouldn’t go anywhere and I would just be looking for a job in another year. Hmmm…I’m glad I had the good sense to follow my own intuition and keep moving forward. I was talking with someone the other day about my start in business and reminded him that I had been doing something “before the web was around.” My friend said he had forgotten there was even a time “before the web.” The internet is so ubiquitous in our lives today that we cannot live without it. As we ponder what yet-to-be-released technology we won’t be able to live without 20 years from now, it is important to remember that the people and the relationships will always be there. IMC will continue to serve our clients in reaching their customers, using whatever technologies we can harness to enhance communications and build communities.

What People Are Saying

IMC has created a wonderful site for us that surpassed our design and functionality expectations.  As a non-profit, we needed a site that was sensitivity to our audience and branding yet flexible enough to be modified internally. The IMC staff couldn’t have been more supportive, and executed this in an amazingly timely  turnaround.  Thank you so much.

Beth Ledy Saratoga WarHorse

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