Tech News

Microsoft Azure Outage Eastern Australia

Microsoft’s Azure incident that took out its Australia East cloud region last week attributes the incident in part to insufficient staff numbers on site. They have blamed the incident on a utility power outage that tripped the cooling units offline in one datacenter in Sydney, Australia, after an electrical storm last week.

The two data halls impacted by the outage had seven chillers – five in operation and two on standby. After the power outage, Microsoft’s staff executed Emergency Operational Procedures to bring them back online. That didn’t work because the corresponding pumps did not get the run signal from the chillers and Microsoft is talking to its suppliers about why it did not work. Two chillers that were in standby which attempted to restart automatically. One managed to restart and came back online, the other restarted but was tripped offline again within minutes. With just one chiller working, thermal loads had to be reduced by shutting down servers.

Due to the size of the datacenter, there were insufficient staff to restart the chillers in a timely manner. Microsoft have temporarily increased the team size from three to seven. Microsoft also had trouble understanding why its storage infrastructure didn’t come back online. Storage hardware damaged by the data hall temperatures required extensive troubleshooting. Unfortunately Microsoft’s diagnostic tools could not find relevant data because the storage servers were down.

As a result, Microsoft’s onsite datacenter team needed to remove components manually, and re-seat them one by one to identify which components were preventing each node from booting. Microsoft also admitted their automation was incorrectly approving stale requests, and marking some healthy nodes as unhealthy, which slowed storage recovery efforts.

Is it time to Harden your IT Security?

With all the high priority companies hacked in 2022 is it time you harden your IT Security? Some of the high profile companies hacked in Australia have been Optus, Telstra, Medibank, WA Health and Woolworths. So you may think hackers only target the big end of town. Think again, there were thousands of companies hacked in 2022 in Australia alone. Many did not report being hacked and either paid the ransom or recovered the data using backups or other means.

What did they have in common you may ask? Unfortunately they probably didn’t have anything in common other than being hacked. In IT things change all the time and what worked 6 months ago, even a month ago may need to be changed now. This is why it is always a good time to do a Security Audit of your systems and Harden your IT Security. The last thing you or your clients want is to get a call that you were hacked and all of their personal data, or bank details are now at risk.

With a cyber-attack being reported every 8 minutes in Australia, it’s important for businesses to understand that no protection is 100% fool proof. Protecting your business from the front-end by having a Cyber Security strategy in place is a great way to mitigate cyber risk but no matter how much time and money you spend, at the end of the day there is always a risk of a cyber crime affecting your business.

Call Wizards@IT to get your Systems Audited and we will make recommendations on how to Harden your Security. Making the recommended changes will make your Business much harder to hack and potentially prevent downtime and data loss.

Malicious new email scam using NASA photos

Australians are being warned about a new scam which can take control of your phone or laptop. Infected photos captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope are being sent out via email to unsuspecting users. The images are being used to disguise and distribute malware from hackers. One of the images contains a hidden link inside its metadata. The link “downloads a malicious template file” onto the user’s device.

The scam was uncovered by cybersecurity firm Securonix. “Initial infection begins with a phishing email containing an attachment,” said the Securonix Threat research team. The scam is so complex, it is unlikely to be detected by antivirus software. That means the scam email is more likely to be delivered to your inbox, rather than spam or junk folder.

Once the malware is downloaded onto the device the hackers are able to spy on, or remotely take control of the infected device.

What can you do to protect your network

We recommend having an up to date, paid Anti Virus like Avast to protect you from ransomware and other attacks. We sell the latest cloud Anti Virus Avast and Ransomware Shield is included with Avast Business subscriptions. Contact us for details on hope to protect your network.

Latest Ransomware Demands Charity Work to Return Data

A new strain of ransomware, called GoodWill, has recently been detected. Rather than requesting money, it forces its victims to complete a series of charitable tasks in order to retrieve their data. The ransomware can leave your business unable to operate while you are forced to follow the time consuming instructions on how to retrieve your data. The instructions so far include doing a number of charitable tasks and documenting them online.

So what is Ransomware

Ransomware is typically a form of malware that will encrypt a user’s photos, documents and other files. This prevents them from accessing any data until they have followed the hackers instructions. They usually extort their victims to pay a ransom in order to receive the decryption key to recover their data.

What Goodwill ransomware demands

The GoodWill ransomware is different, rather than asking for a money, the group direct their victims to perform three good deeds. They must record them and post them on social media to supposedly encourage others to follow suit.

The ransomware’s first task requires its victims to provide clothing and blankets to people in need. They must then feed five kids under the age of 13 at a Dominos, KFC, or Pizza Hut, and take a selfie with the kids. Finally, the victims must find a stranger in hospital and pay their hospital bill.

The ransomware victims must document all of these acts and post the photos on Instagram, Facebook or WhatsApp. The hacker group writes, “It doesn’t cost you high, but matters for humanity,” on their security bulletin. What is not clear exactly who they’re targeting or how they determine their victims’ capabilities to fulfil these tasks.

What can you do to protect your network

We recommend having an up to date, paid Anti Virus like Avast to protect you from ransomware and other attacks. We sell the latest cloud Anti Virus software which offers the best protection against these type of ransomware attacks. Contact us for details on hope to protect your network.

Wizards@IT acquires ITsquad

ITsquad has been acquired by Wizards@IT and will now trade under the Wizards@IT brand. We will be providing the same, if not better service that you are used to and look forward to working with you into the future.

All existing ITsquad clients should have been contacted and new agreements put in place outlining the improvements to the services you currently use. The ITsquad phone lines are all diverted to the Wizards@IT phone number so there should be no interruptions in service.

The main ITsquad email addresses have also been forwarded and you should also receive a message back with the new contact details to use moving forward.

Should you have any questions please call us on 1300 724 348


Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger have gone down

Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger have all gone down in a major outage. Outage website Downdetector noted a spike in user reports relating to the services. The services all share common backend infrastructure.

Facebook users were greeted with this message when trying to access the site.
“We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologise for any inconvenience.”

On Twitter, Facebook policy communications director Andy Stone said the company was aware of the reported problems. They are “working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible”.
The New York Times reports Facebook has now sent a team to one of its California data centres to manually reset the servers.

Facebook is going through a major crisis after a whistleblower who exposed the company’s awareness of internal research into the negative effects of its products and decisions went public on 60 Minutes in the US on Sunday.

Frances Haugen was identified in the interview as the woman who anonymously filed complaints with federal law enforcement. The complaint alleges that the company’s own research shows how it magnifies hate and misinformation. It also leads to increased polarisation and that Instagram, specifically, can harm teenage girls’ mental health.