eChoraix Ransomware on Qnap

So you have heard that eCh0raix ransomware is specifically targeting Qnap NAS, and breaks in with brute-force techniques.  Once it does so , it will encrypt all your files. ( Read more on Security Firm Anomali Website)

The question is how bad is it, and how vulnerable you are, or more importantly are there ways to mitigate the risk. The answer is an absolute yes.

1. Brute Force can only break weak passwords
Since the Ransomware uses Brute Force, it can not break long complex Passwords. Use a long and secure password.

2. 2 Factor Authentication can be used
use 2FA on Qnap. Its a built-in functionality and can be made use of free of cost. With this alone, the brute force threats are mitigated.

3. Antivirus Package IS available for Qnap ( Though it’s a paid Option)
Macafee Antivirus can be installed on Qnap from Qnap App store. Installing is as easy as a few clicks.

4. use Snapshots- Even if your data is encrypted, you will get your previous versions back.
Qnap has Snapshot technology that you should absolutely use. Since the ransomware attacks your files ( and not physical blocks ) on the hard drive, your snapshots are unaffected in the event of a ransomware attack too.

Keep your Qnap updated, use Snapshots and 2FA and you are secure not only from this Ransomware but from any other future threat too.

WD 10TB Red at this price is a bargain

Today Amazon has 10TB Red at an amazing price. I am a big time fan of Qnap NAS and often asked which is the best drive to use. As on Today ( 24th June 2019) they are retailing for AED 1169 Each.

If you have Money, you can go with Ultrastar or Exos, they are both Solid drives and highly reliable.

After these Enterprise, WD Red 10TB is the best drive you can get.

here is a list of all the best NAS drives you can buy

Seagate 4TB Ironwolf

Disclaimer : As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you are a souq seller, start learning Amazon Seller Central Now

Amazon Seller Central (ASC)  is now live and the existing Souq sellers have access and are prompted to do so since souq selling center (SSC) will soon be deprecated.  How this works as on today is that there is an auto Sync – all the data from your SSC is Synced to ASC  periodically.

They Prompt you to use Amazon Seller Central now. Though the primary Data updating still happens from Souq Selling center.

This seems to be a one way Sync.  There is no copying happening from ASC to SSC . I tried updating some pricing on Amazon Seller Central but it was overwritten, so even though I am prompted to use the ASC, I continue to use SSC.

Some things have stopped working on SSC like the Lowest price exclamation that used to indicate a product being sold at a price lower than your offer doesn’t seem to be working anymore. Souq.com frontend seems to be the same, though it might be replaced with Amazon soon. Amazon business will definitely come to Middle East too as Amazon has been reaching out to a few potential sellers on Invitation only basis for now, but later they will open it to anyone.

Eventually its going to be Amazon so its better to start learning now. There are Google sheet integration available for Amazon which looks very interesting especially for small businesses like us who can periodically update the Data on a Single Google Sheet which would copy from and write to Amazon Account.

I am not a big fan of Souq Seller Central,  and keenly looking forward to the migration. Amazon’s ASC has to be worldclass and definitely better than SSC.  I am hoping to see lot of useful data present in ASC which we can use to analyze and increase sales. Finger Crossed !

Automatically get prices from Souq.com to your Google sheet

If you are a regular seller on Souq.com, then you know there is nothing more important than keeping a tab on the competition prices, and adjusting your prices accordingly. of course the seller console alerts you whenever there is a product available for a lower price, it does so in a limited manner. It doesn’t show you the seller name for example.

What if I could show you a way to keep all the data you want in a spreadsheet. Say your costing, lowest price you are willing to sell, and current lowest price available on souq.  Something like this sheet

If this looks interesting , Read on.

We are going to use google Sheets, importXML() function to automatically fetch the prices for you.  Here is the step by step

1. Get the URL which shows Top offers for your product.
This is the top offer page for Apple iPhone X which shows the seller with lowest price first.  This the URL I have put in the Column F of my Google Sheet.

2. Get the Xpath for Seller and Price.
Souq Displays the price in a Div with a Class called ‘field price-field‘.  You want the text that’s contained in this div. Further, you want only the first record.

The Xpath for this would be
(//div[@class=”field price-field”]/text())[1]

Similarly Xpath for Seller name would be 
(//div[@class=”field seller-name”])[1]

These are the Xpaths you see in the fields G and H.

3. Use google Sheets importxml() function to fetch this information

Finally use the ImportXML() function like this in the columns where you want to fetch price and corresponding Seller.  You used imporxml() function with the first argument as the URL and second as the Xpath.

There you have it, a single sheet that captures all the information you need to successfully keep a tab on your competition

Consideration

Consider the following when you use this approach

1. Google sheets only allow you to have around 50-70 importXML calls per sheet. So you can’t put 500 products there and fetch the data for all. If you wish to do that, you could use python for scraping. I use python with Selenium to scrape souq whenever I need to scrape more than 100 items

2. If you can live with a slower solution, you can use Libreoffice webservice() and filterXML() functions. There is no limit to the amount of URLS is fetches.

2. Xpath I have used will change as Souq changes their website structure. anytime you get an error, inspect the document and see if the structure of the page has changed.

My top 10 little known Productive apps

I am a productivity freak .  I am always looking for ways to automate repetitive tasks and minimize the number of clicks it takes to do something.  here are my top 10 windows apps which helped me save countless hours in 2018. I am not including Popular apps like gmail, evernote, slack and whatsapp , which everyone uses anyway.

1.Ditto : Clipboard Manager (Open Source)

Ditto is an open source clipboard manager which sits in your task tray and captures your Clipboard Contents.  It saves a lot of time when you need to copy multiple items from one window to another. Rather than switching back and forth between source and target window, you can copy all the bits of text you want from source, then switch to target and copy all at once. 

2. rbtray.exe : Right click to Minimize to Task Bar (Open Source)

Too many open windows not only distract you from focusing, but also makes it difficult to switch between them.  I like to keep my taskbar clean, without having to close a program and losing the state. With RBTRY, you just right click on the minimize button of an open window, and it is minimized to taskbar.
There is no installation, just make sure rbtray.exe is running all the time ( place it in your startup group). Almost all the programs are supported ( some like remote desktop, thunderbird are not )

3. Listray : Universal Search ( Lite Free Version)

Tap control key two times and listray search window pops up. Search for any program name, file or folder name and it efficiently brings it up.

4. Thunderbird : Desktop Email Client (Open Source)

I have been using thunderbird since 2006 and it remained my top productive program even in 2018.  Install extensions like nostalgy and Lightning , and you will never go back to any other email client.  

5. Auto Hot Key : Macro Recorder and Automation (Open Source) 

With Auto Hot Key, you can automate almost anything. Have a hot key for regularly used phrases, simulate multiple key strokes, send an email periodically etc.  My Favorite is pulling a report out of the ERP system with a hotkey that otherwise takes 4 steps and 8-10 clicks.

6  . Gadwin Print Screen – Screen Capture ( Open Source) 

Take a screen shot, crop it , resize it, save it and send it to email or printer – all with just one program. I use Gadwin for all my screen captures. 

7. Irfran view – Image viewing and Editing (FreeWare)

Nothing Beats ifran view in speed and versatility when it comes to Image editing.  This extremely lightweight program is full of features. Use the batch mode for bulk operations at once, like inserting background, changing size/format or Auto crop borders.

8. Libre Office for regular expression matching and replacing (Open Source)

Libre office is free and open source. It also can search and replace based on regular expressions.  The one regular expression that I use the most is    ‘W.*?R’  which will match any string starting with W and ending with R. 

9. Google sheets for smalltime web scraping

I can have my google pull content form the internet everytime I refresh it.  Taking competition price from a URL, updating a stock price, or checking stock status from a URL can all be done with Google sheets importxml(). 

10. Python and Selenium for Web Automation 

To use this you would have to know a bit of python, but this is the most powerful way to automate your browsing. I have automated stuff like login, classified postings, scraping web and even website testing with python and Selenium.