What is ransomware?

Note: This is blog 1 of 4 in our ransomware series.

As 2017 began, the St. Louis public library system found itself the latest victim of ransomware, which is shaping up to be the new dominant form of cybertheft. The attack froze the computer system for all 17 of the city’s library branches, shutting down patrons’ ability to borrow or return books unless the city paid $35,000 in bitcoin for the system to be restored. Fortunately, the library system’s IT staff was able to rebuild their system from backup files and avoid paying the ransom, but many ransomware victims aren’t so fortunate.

The FBI estimates that ransomware cost victims $1 billion last year, up from $24 million in 2015, and warns that attacks are expected to continue escalating. Here is what you need to know about ransomware, why it’s dangerous, and what can make you vulnerable to becoming a victim of this virulent form of cybercrime.

Trickery that leads to a malicious download

Ransomware is a form of cyberattack that holds the victim’s device “hostage” by blocking access to the device, operating system, applications or files unless the victim pays money to have it unblocked. Some attacks threaten to post the user’s files online unless money is paid.

Alternately, some forms of ransomware do not actually lock the user’s device, but only display a message purporting to be from an authority such as a government agency, claiming that device will be locked unless the user pays a fine.

Ransomware typically works by tricking the user into clicking on a link in an email or on an infected website. Clicking the link downloads a malicious code onto the user’s device.

In more sophisticated ransomware, the code contains encryption instructions that use a random key to encrypt the device’s data. The device owner then cannot access their data without obtaining the key from the attacker.

Most attackers require money to be paid through an electronic medium such as bitcoin. The average amount demanded in 2016 was $679, but some attacks on businesses demand thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. However, paying does not necessarily guarantee the attacker will unlock the device. In some cases, paying simply opens the victim up to additional extortion.

Why is ransomware dangerous?

While early types of ransomware could usually be reversed through simple means, such as a reboot or system restore, newer forms use encryption, making them much harder to counter. And where older forms of ransomware could be avoided by not clicking on suspicious emarils or websites, newer versions can hide themselves in infected code on legitimate websites.

Ransomware is also infecting targets that affect more people and cause more damage. Some attacks have been aimed at hospitals, banks, utility companies, government agencies and police departments.

Finally, the success of ransomware attacks has attracted more thieves and emboldened them. Seventy percent of businesses infected with ransomware have paid the ransom, making this is a lucrative racket. Thieves are now demanding more from victims, with the average amount extorted expected to pass $1,000 soon.

Who is especially susceptible to ransomware?

Anyone connected to the Internet is a potential victim of ransomware, but some users are more vulnerable. Users who don’t keep their software versions, security patches, and antivirus software updated are more susceptible to vulnerabilities that ransomware can exploit. Users who don’t take precautions before clicking on spam email links or attachments or suspicious websites expose themselves to a higher risk of ransomware.

Users who don’t back up their files are also more vulnerable to ransomware because they don’t have a way to recover without paying ransom. Finally, having macros enabled in programs such as Word and Excel can leave you vulnerable to ransomware, which is increasingly being delivered through macros.

Ransomware is a growing threat that can potentially infect anyone connected to the Internet. It can cost victims hundreds or thousands of dollars. Users who don’t follow sound security and file backup practices are especially vulnerable. Ransomware typically invades devices through links in spam emails and code on fake websites, but it can also hide on legitimate sites.

Recent forms of ransomware are increasingly sophisticated and dangerous, as we’ll see in the next article in this series: Spora and the Future of Ransomware. Look for it on Thursday.

Until then, learn how backing up your data with Mozy by Dell can help prevent a ransomware disaster in your future.

You Can Successfully Combat Ransomware

What do you know about ransomware?

You probably know that ransomware is a form of malware that can block access to a computer system. Only after the ransom is paid—usually in the form of Bitcoin—is a decryption key handed over to the victim, at which point the victim can theoretically unlock and access his files (though there is no guarantee that this will always be the case; after all, we are dealing with criminals).

Would you like to know more?

Ransomware is prevalent. There are literally hundreds of millions of ransomware variants. Ransomware is also extremely successful (for criminals!); estimates put the cost to businesses and individuals at $1 billion in 2016. The growing sophistication of malware in general and ransomware in particular means that no cybersecurity plan should be thought of as foolproof or a guarantee that data is safe and untouchable by cybercriminals. The odds are high that if your business has not yet experienced a ransomware attack it will—and sooner rather than later.

Because ransomware is so wide spread and profitable, businesses must do all within their power to protect their data in order to avoid a ransomware disaster, which cannot only cripple a business, but even put it out of business should decryption fail and mission-critical data be lost forever.

What can be done?

As part of a business continuity plan, the FBI recommends protecting your organization from cyberattacks—including ransomware—by being proactive in following these three steps:

  1. Back up data regularly.
  2. Verify the integrity of those backups regularly.
  3. Secure your backups.

That’s where the cloud plays an important role in protecting your organization from a ransomware disaster. Where ransomware is involved, restoration of an endpoint or server from a backup works best when you can easily select a moment in time from where to restore. Mozy by Dell keeps up to one year of file versions, meaning if you have identified the point of infection and the time the malware was introduced to the machine, Mozy can restore all of the files for the given user from the point in time just before the malware was introduced.

We’re here for you

We here at Mozy are serious about protecting your data and educating businesses of all sizes about threats to data. We’re putting the screws to ransomware! We know malware isn’t going away; however, we also know that there are tried and true methods to prevent a ransomware disaster that you can include in your business continuity plan.

To help you understand more about this form of malware and, more importantly, to help you know what you can do to protect your data, we’ve created a four-part blog series about ransomware. The first in our series will be published next week. (Update: Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 have now been published.)

The more you know about ransomware and other threats to your business-critical data, the more you will understand that you don’t have to be a victim. With the right tools and preventive measures in place (including Mozy cloud backup), you can successfully combat ransomware as this consultant does on a daily basis.

In the meantime, be sure to check out these important assets about protecting your business against ransomware:

   •     Ransomware: Frequently Asked Questions

   •     Preventing a Ransomware Disaster

Mozy Wins Another Stevie Award!

Mark Goetz (left), Senior Manager, Mozy Business Systems, and Zan Phillips, Director of Mozy Technical Support, accept 2017 Stevie Award on behalf of Mozy’s world-class support team.

The results are in and Mozy by Dell was awarded a bronze 2017 Stevie Award for our submission on “Mapping the Customer Journey.”

Over the last few years Mozy has been conducting research on our customer’s journey. From that research we have implemented numerous updates and enhancements to improve the support experience.

At Mozy, we’re always looking for ways to make sure the customer experience is seamless, pro-active, and beneficial to our users.

You might recall that Mozy has received other Stevie Awards over the years. Read more about them here:

   •     2015, Silver Stevie Award, Best Use of Technology in          Customer Service for Computer Software and Services

   •     2014, Bronze Stevie Award, Sales and Customer Service

Congratulations to Mozy’s world-class support team!

Cloud Backup Protects Small Businesses from a Rainy Day

Most small businesses aren’t backed by angel investors or the deep pockets of venture capitalists. They’re financed by their founders, gifts and investments by friends and family, loans from a neighborhood bank, and the owners’ personal credit cards. These companies don’t have the resources to cope with a disruption in their cashflow.

One report found that downtime costs small businesses $55,000 in income every year; that doesn’t even account for the cost of paying employees who can’t work without access to systems or paying them overtime to catch up when systems come back online.

The loss of income associated with an outage can even drive a small company out of business. That’s why it’s important to view data protection as a means of protecting not just your data, but protecting your business.

Even small disasters cause big problems

Natural disasters don’t have to be big enough to draw national news attention to cause big problems for small business. A minor windstorm can down branches and knock out power, shutting you down for a day. A water main break can flood the streets, making it impossible for your employees to get to work.

Either way, without a plan, your data may not be available or your employees may not be able to get to it.

Small businesses are targets of hackers

Your data may also be at risk due to insecure computers at the office. Small businesses aren’t too small to be the targets of hackers. In fact, because small businesses often don’t invest in strong defensive measures, they’re a popular and vulnerable target. One security vendor’s study found that more 40 percent of phishing emails targeted small companies, with trends showing an increasing focus of attacks at small businesses.

A ransomware attack can literally leave you unable to access your data. These attacks encrypt your data, making it unreadable without a key—which the attacker will happily provide, if you pay their ransom. Organizations including hospitals have been forced to pay up to recover their data.

Cloud backup makes data always available

Many small businesses don’t even create data backups, or have never tested restoring from backups, considering it too complicated. It’s simpler to use a cloud storage service like Mozy by Dell, which makes files available from anywhere. With cloud backup, local disasters don’t prevent you from accessing your data. Backups can happen automatically, even throughout the day, and the cloud provider makes sure full security measures are in place to protect your files. If your local data becomes inaccessible, whether because of a natural disaster or ransomware, you can always access a good copy of your files from the cloud.

Viewing the cost of data protection as a cost of doing business is more cost effective than paying for emergency services that cost more and may not be able to recover all your data. With cloud backup, no matter what the weather outside, you’ll always be open for business.

What You Need to Know About Phishing


Social engineering scams that use email or websites into tricking users to reveal personal information or install viruses on their devices are known as phishing scams. Phishing scams can look like bank emails, or other corporate communication, and are crafted to fool the users into believing that it is a legitimate message.

The content of a phishing email is intended to cause a quick response from the user. One common scam will try to convince you that you’ve won a lottery or a prize, with a link similar to a website you already know of. This page will then ask for your personal information, which you will happily provide because you think you’ve won money.

Types of phishing attacks

There are three types of phishing attacks that you need to be aware of:

Regular phishing: These attacks are not targeted, and attempt to manipulate the user to click a link where they will enter their credentials. This is a generalized attack and no “one” person is a target.

Spear phishing: These are targeted attacks. The attackers have studied the organization or person they are trying to defraud, and will usually try and impersonate one or more parts of that organization. They may use social media to find information about the organization, and use it to create an email that will convince the reader that it is from their own business.

Whaling: This doesn’t refer to hunting for whales, but instead phishing the upper management of an organization. Done in the same manner as a spear phishing attack, it targets the highest level of the organization and often includes messages that request transfers of large funds.

How to identify phishing attacks

According to Intel Security, 97% of people cannot identify a phishing attack. Here’s how you can be prevent becoming a victim.

Don’t trust email communication: We have been trained to use email as the main mode of communication, and as far as it does not require you to divulge personal information, that is fine. Treat with care any email that asks you to click on a link, or provide personal information. Even if you receive an email from what seems like your own company, asking you to make a fund transfer, just confirm verbally with the relevant person to ensure this is not a scam.

Don’t fall for emails that sound urgent: Many phishing emails attempt to scare you into believing you need to respond or react urgently, but you must take the time to confirm that the email is from a legitimate source before responding.

Confirm links before you click on them: When you receive an email that seems legitimate with a link for you to click on, go to the actual website and then navigate to the relevant page. At the very least, always confirm that there isn’t a minor change—for example, BankofAmerica vs BankAmerica—that is meant to fool you.

Beware of online forms: Do not enter confidential information through online forms or websites. But if you have to, make sure all data you submit is done via a secure connection; that is, https. This is especially important when entering credit card information online.

One of the most important things to remember is to report a suspicious email to management immediately. Only 3% of targeted users report malicious emails to management, which is scary when you consider that 95% of all attacks on enterprise networks are due to a successful phishing attack.

What if there were a real-life data protection superhero?

Silicona sinks down in her leather armchair, and throws her feet up on her creaky wooden desk. It’s been a long day. Nearly 1,000 terabytes were recovered today. Her phone buzzes with texts: You saved us, Silicona and We are eternally grateful for your work. She watches as her screen lights up rhythmically with new messages. Her skin is sunburned, and her combat boots are dusty from the dry Nevada desert. Her fingers are still shaking from inputting so many different coding strokes. Back home in Oakland, California, none of that matters now. She just saved one of the most highly protected government programs from detrimental exposure.

This wasn’t the first time Area 51 had called upon Silicona. Back in 2013, the United States Air Force facility had asked her to stop a totally different security breach. A hacker had siphoned nearly every top secret file on a new aircraft aimed for extraterrestrial territory, and the Central Intelligence Agency was on the brink of being fully exploited. The National Security Agency had their own team of highly-trained technologists who could trace and capture cyber culprits, yet, none of them rivaled Silicona.

Raised in an airstream in a remote town on the coast of North Carolina, Silicona was far from your typical tech geek. She was born with the innate ability to interpret computer language at lightning speeds. Graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at 16, Silicona soon became  primed to save governments, businesses, and individuals from data hacks. Time and again she reversed malicious data infractions and kept information that could set the world on its head safe and secure.

This time a hacker had nearly released hundreds of documents depicting Area 51’s latest venture, a fighter jet with speeds up to 3,000 miles per hour. Silicona had used her self-developed detection software to pin-point the hacker’s exact location, and powered up her interloper to permanently shut down their computers. Silicona never gave away her software or protocol. This is what made her so valuable to government agencies across the globe.

Text messages continued to cascade through her phone, including one from United National Secretary, General Siobhan Gutierrez: Amazing work, Silicona. Please call when you’re able. We might have another situation on our hands. Although it was late and Silicona was exhausted, she was worried about what Gutierrez meant. She had no idea Gutierrez even knew about the Area 51 hack. In her pajamas, Silicona made a vermouth cocktail and gave her a call.

“Hello, Ms. Secretary-General. It’s Silicona.”

“Thank you for calling me so late. We have a dire situation on our hands. I’ve been hacked. All of my files are gone.”

“Ok, did you search through any external hard drives?”

“Everything.”

“Let me see. What’s your computer’s serial number?”

Gutierrez read over her computer’s information and Silicona locates the problem.

“Ms. Secretary-General, you have too many files. You computer’s overloaded. When this happens, your computer freezes over your data to prevent you from adding anything else.”

“Oh. This is embarrassing.”

“You know, Mozy by Dell has a cloud backup solution to protect all of your information just in case something like this happens again. It’s what I use to back up my data.”

“You’re the best, Silicona. Thank you again.”

 

Note: Silicona is make believe. Mozy by Dell is for real. Real data protection for real threats to your important files, including ransomware.

 

HIPAA and You: What It Is and Why It Matters

Adopted in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was designed in part to facilitate the transfer of health insurance for citizens after leaving an employer, and to address the growing need for regulation and oversight of electronic protected health information (ePHI), also called individually identifiable health information, via the Privacy Rule. HIPAA is a substantive and often confusing piece of legislation, leading many companies to wonder if it applies to their business, what’s expected of them and how regulatory standards are enforced. Here’s a rundown of key HIPAA expectations and why they matter to your organization.

Who’s affected

First step? Determine if you’re subject to HIPAA regulations. As noted by the CDC, there are two key groups defined by the law: covered entities and business associates. Covered entities (CEs) consist of health plans, health-care clearinghouses and health-care providers. These CEs are responsible for appropriately handling ePHI by ensuring that an accurate record of all use and transmission exists, that all data is properly encrypted and that access is restricted to specific individuals such as patients, doctors or insurance providers.

The second group, business associates (BAs), are third-parties that work with CEs and occasionally handle health data. These may include lawyers, accountants, billing companies or IT developers, and are required to sign a written agreement with CEs stating that they will properly handle health data, use the information only for stated purposes and help the CE comply with certain aspects of the Privacy Rule.

Provisions

If your company is considered a CE or BA, how do you ensure HIPAA standards are being met? The Privacy Rule lays out several obligations, including:

   •     Notification of patients regarding their privacy rights and the specific use or disclosure of their ePHI.
   •     Adoption of internal privacy policies and procedures to prevent misuse.
   •     Training of employees to ensure they understand their role in using and transmitting ePHI.
   •     Creating contracts with BAs which specify their use and responsibility in safeguarding information.
   •     Establishing administrative, technical and physical safeguards—such as data access policies, data encryption and          long-term storage in secure facilities—to ensure information privacy.

Worth noting is that willful ignorance of the rule does not constitute an acceptable reason for compliance failure. For example, this means BAs using unencrypted data cannot claim that the relevant CE did not mandate this procedure—companies are expected to know and follow the rules if they handle health data.

Enforcement

HIPAA requirements are now being enforced with greater regularity and rigor by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Through 2016 and into 2017 the agency’s focus has centered around audits, both to evaluate the use of health documents and ensure companies can produce the necessary records to demonstrate the transmission and encryption of relevant data. Expect more in-depth audits to continue over the next few years.

The OCR has also been levying more fines for non-compliance. For example, a “Did Not Know” violation can cost between $100 and $50,000 for the first offense, while “Willful Neglect” (subsequently corrected) starts at $10,000. More worrisome are identical violations in the same calendar year: For any subsequent offense, the fine is set at $1.5 million.

Why does HIPAA matter to your business? If you’re a CE or BA under the law, you’re responsible for the security, storage and use of personal health information as described by Privacy Rule stipulations. Audits are becoming more common, and steep fines are the outcome if compliance standards are not met. Best bet? Leverage the expertise of trusted HIPAA security partners who can help you meet obligations and adapt to evolving HIPAA regulations.

What are the odds your hard drive will fail?

Despite manufacturers’ advertised ratings, disk drives in consumer and commercial appliances may not offer the reliability or predictability that users expect. The annual failure rate (AFR) metric printed on many drives show an expected failure rate below one percent (0.88 percent), meaning about one in 114 drives is expected to fail in a given year.

Large-scale studies from Google and Carnegie Mellon challenge that assertion, suggesting the rate is much higher and providing a case for increased vigilance and a need for computer users to back up their data.

Beat the heat?

A 2007 Google study of approximately 100,000 of its own drives used their Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) capability to self-report errors such as platter surface defects and reallocation of data. Among miscellaneous health indicators, SMART can detect bad drive sectors and measure temperature.

Despite SMART’s capability, researchers found that many drives failed with no signals at all; they also could not find a link between running temperature and failure. Moreover, researchers noted that, even with the assumption that a significant number of drives ran exceptionally hot—above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius)—statistics would still not reliably join heat and drive failure to the point where users could rely on the metric to predict the fate of their own drives.

The effects of old age

Meanwhile, Carnegie Mellon reported in a similar study that disk failure rate does not directly correspond to a disk’s age or type. Its researchers found that many drives failed before one year, in an “infant mortality” group, but that those which survived could be expected to live through old age—five to seven years—before statistics showed a rise in their average failure rate.

These two studies transcend their own years to represent a corpus of important industry information that others have not reproduced to scale. Moreover, they provide this industry-challenging set of figures:

Overall, Google researchers determined that the average failure rate of its drives to reach three percent. In lockstep, Carnegie Mellon expected a fail rate of between two and four percent. Both those reports provide evidence that a more realistic AFR is more than double the industry AFR of 0.88 percent.

Be proactive with cloud backups

Users may notice corrupted files or slow reading and writing—or even suddenly fried circuits—as signs that their drives have stopped working or will soon follow that path. Although the above studies report moderate links between symptoms and drive health, it is important for individuals and businesses to be proactive in their protection of important data. Failure can occur at any time.

Although no one can predict the exact moment a hard drive will show signs of wear or crash completely, individuals and businesses can take steps to protect their data with the Mozy cloud-based backup service. Users can back up and sync their files across all of their desktop and mobile devices. Learn more at Mozy by Dell.

Billy from IT has been put out to pasture

We want to call your attention to a lighthearted Mozy video we’ve just released.

In the video we catch a look at what the preliminary stage of a ransomware disaster might look like. Surprise and embarrassment are just the beginning. But that’s not the worst! Downtime, lost revenue, and lost customers are just some of the probable outcomes of a ransomware disaster. If Billy had only backed up the company’s files with Mozy, a quick restore to a point in time prior to the ransomware infection would have saved the day. Bill would be a hero!

Watch video

These days, businesses and home users are faced with two key problems: (1) keeping critical data secure and private, and (2) having it available to them anytime, anyplace. Mozy by Dell solves these problems by enabling businesses and individuals to protect, access, and keep their important files up to date across their computers, servers, and mobile devices.

And Mozy includes file sync. Mozy Sync lets users easily synchronize and securely access their files across devices. Files stored in the Sync folder are automatically updated in real time across users’ various devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Sync gives you the flexibility to work securely from any device and from any location while maintaining compliance with your organization’s information access policy.

Sync users can also maximize convenient file access by using the free Mozy mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The Mozy app allows you to access your Sync folder while on the go. You can also upload email attachments and documents from other apps to your Sync folder; those files automatically sync across all of your devices.

The lesson is clear: Be sure you’re backing up your important files with Mozy by Dell. It’s complete data protection. It’s peace of mind.

How to Upgrade or Affordably Replace Your Old PC

If you’re looking to upgrade or replace your computer, take the same approach as a physician; that is, diagnosis then treatment.      To do this:

   •     Mac owners: Apple Menu > About this Mac
   •     PC owners: Open Start Menu and enter “cmd” in the box.           At the command prompt, run: systeminfo.exe

If you see dates from before the Obama presidency, it’s time for a new computer. Or perhaps your computer isn’t that old but is sluggish and has frustrating freeze tendencies. Programs like PC Pitstop will identify the exact causes of your computer lag.

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to understand your options as you research upgrades and replacements.

 

Upgrade to a SSD

Hard disk drives (HDDs) date back to the early days of computer history. They are a few inches of metal that store computer data and access it each time a computer powers on. Solid state drives (SSDs) do the exact same thing except they retain data without power. SSDs provide superior computer performance compared to their traditional counterparts. While they lack for storage space if you need more than 1 TB, SSDs outperform HHDs when it comes to boot-up times and speed. CNET provides a “best of” list that ranges from $20 to $300, which is competitive with average HDD prices (unlike years past).

For Mac owners, this guide explains how to prep the SSD with an automatic configuration and how to remove your old hard drive with relatively simple steps. Lastly, you install the SSD with four Torx screws (available at local hardware store). Total cost: ~$120

CNET provides a similar explanation for PC owners. Set up the SSD with cloning software and a USB-to-SATA adapter and install the drive with a small screwdriver.

Free up hard drive space

Perhaps you don’t need to bite the bullet on a new hard drive. There are multiple ways to clear space for improved processing speed.

Programs such as CleanMyMac and CleanMyPC cost about $40 and will complete space-saving tasks such as:

   •     Clear duplicate and temporary files
   •     Clear unnecessary language files
   •     Uninstall unused applications
   •     Identify and remove big attachments stored in Mail
   •     Analyze disk space

It should be noted that these tasks can be performed manually. PC owners can also disable features such as hibernation and system restore.

Buy additional memory (RAM)

Adding additional random-access memory (RAM) to your computer might speed it up, might being the important word. A healthy amount of RAM (4 GB or 8 GB) eliminates the need for program swapping, which essentially means computer multi-tasking. Check your current RAM before researching an upgrade. Sites like Lifehacker, Tom’s Hardware and ZDNet have concluded that 4 GB is ample for average users and 8 GB suffices for most technical needs. However, if you run more than a couple of programs simultaneously and cannot switch between them swiftly, a RAM upgrade is for you. You should also look into RAM if you work with a memory-eating program like Adobe Photoshop or engage in tab warfare during your Chrome or Firefox sessions.

Apple provides hearty support documents on how to install memory and the process is very similar on PCs. You cannot damage the RAM unit by seating it improperly so it should be a stress-free installation. Avoid any “Mac RAM” products as there is no such thing. As long as the RAM matches the specifications for your system, it will function properly.

Affordable upgrades

Just like a car, sometimes it behooves you to buy new rather than pump money into the old horse. Desktops, laptops and tablets have transformed computer ownership standards. Data group GWI found the average consumer owns at least three “smart” devices. Consider the upgrades below that meet or surpass your old desktop’s computing power and convenience (for about $130 to $300).

Inspiron
The Dell Inspiron 3000 series laptop starts at $200. These ultra portable 11-inch to 15-inch laptops are lightweight and offer options such as touch displays to meet the needs of home and home office.

Google Chromebook
The 11-inch to 15-inch Google Chromebook laptops range from $150 to $300 and are cheaper on the used market. They cost a fraction of a MacBook Pro because they are Wi-Fi warriors. They’re not meant to run programs and have little memory and storage but can be used wherever Internet access is available. It may seem like a leap to give up on Microsoft Office Suite or your trusty solitaire game, but Google Docs and Google Drive have created an online ecosystem for file storage and word processing that is much more intuitive. Not to mention you can play solitaire without leaving your Google SERPs.

Intel Compute Stick
While most critics considered Intel’s first Compute Stick a flop, Engadget deemed the second iteration, “something you’d actually want to use.” And for good reason, the $130 stick with Windows 10 plugs directly into an HDTV or monitor via an HDMI port. Two USB ports are provided for mouse and keyboard hookups. And the pocket-sized stick comes with 32 GB of internal storage. The stick still requires an AC adapter for power but remains a cost-efficient option due to the capability vs. price.

LifeHacker
The $300 DIY PC. If you’re looking for a challenge and like working with your hands, building your own PC is entirely possible. LifeHacker lists out a complete system courtesy of PCPartPicker. You can get everything you need for $333.31. Consider that the order consists of only seven parts and it becomes even less daunting. You’ll need a case, motherboard, processor, memory (RAM), storage, graphics card and a power supply. Complete buying and installation guides are easily found online.

There you have it. Say goodbye to that old computer. Find the option that appeals to you most and do some additional research. It can be rewarding to upgrade the computer with a little handy work, especially if you have children to do it with. Or it might be wise to buy new and avoid any potential headaches. Lastly, before you toss anything out, remember to protect your files and data by using Mozy’s online backup.