Technology Advisor Blog

Cyber Attacks Increasing - Cape Cod Community College Hacked for $800,000

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 12/12/18 12:01 PM

Cyber Attacks and Small BusinessCyber threats are real and they're local.  Major corporations like Marriott make the big headlines, but too many smaller businesses and institutions think they're "under the radar".  Attacks are widespread and they're automated.  The average firewall is getting hundreds of thousands of intrusion attempts per month, over 50 ransomware attempts, and twelve phishing attempts.   All it takes is ONE user clicking on ONE wrong link and a lot of damage can be done.

Recently Cape Cod Community College was hacked for over $800,000.   In this particular case, a user opened an email that looked like it was from another college, and the user didn't have any suspicions at first.  What they didn't know, was that malware targeted their financial transactions.  The college worked with the FBI and were able to get some of the funds back, but this is actually quite rare.  The college is beefing up their cybersecurity protection now, but waiting until disaster strikes will help next time, but can't undo the damage incurred in this attack.

Working with hundreds of local businesses, we've seen a big increase in the number of threats this year, and we're advising everyone in our community to review all the risks, and make informed decisions about the level of protection needed.  The protection in place over the years (Firewall, Antivirus, Security Patch updates) just isn't enough to protect against the latest threats.  More tools are available to SMBs and the first step is to understand the risks involved.  The level of protection you had in the past is not enough.

"Cybercrime is now larger than all other forms of organized crime put together"  Michael George, Continuum Navigate.

A business class firewall is one of the most important layers of protection against intrusions, and we recommend Sonicwall, recognizedas the leader for SMB protection, but that's just one layer of protection.

Globally, the SonicWall Capture Threat Network, which includes more than 1 million sensors across the world, recorded the following 2018 year-to-date attack data through October 2018 including  a 117 percent increase in the number of ransomware attacks.

  • 9.2 billion malware attacks (44 percent increase from 2017)
  • 3.2 trillion intrusion attempts (45 percent increase)
  • 286.2 million ransomware attacks (117 percent increase)
  • 23.9 million web app attacks (113 percent increase)
  • 2.3 million encrypted threats (62 percent increase)


In October 2018 alone, the average SonicWall customer faced:

  • 1,756 malware attacks (19 percent decrease from October 2017)
  • 819,947 intrusion attempts (17 percent increase)
  • 57 ransomware attacks (311 percent increase)
  • 8,742 web app attacks (185 percent increase)
  • 152 encrypted threats (12 percent increase)
  • 12 phishing attacks each day (19 percent decrease)

For more information, read the full Sonicwall Report

We want everyone in our community to fully understand the changes in the threat landscape and what can be done to help better protect your businessCall us to schedule a time to review your current level of protection so you can understand  the protections you have in place, and where there may be gaps that need to be considered.  There is no such thing as 100% security, but understanding the risks and making an informed decision about the level of risk you can tolerate is critical for protecting your business. 

Tags: cybersecurity, ransomware, SMB

The End is Near!  Windows 7 End of Support January 2020

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 12/7/18 1:52 PM

Windows 7Microsoft Windows 7 has long been a favorite operating system for business, but now the end of life for support is just one year away.  Although we're still seeing some line of business applications with problems running on Windows 10, it would be ill-advised to roll out any new systems with this operating system.  The official end date for extended support is January 14, 2020.  After this time, there will be no more security updates, and any system would be at risk for security problems, and out of compliance for a long list of industry security requirements.  

If you don't already have a plan in place to move your remaining systems to Windows 10, now is the time!  Every Windows product has a lifecycle. The lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when it's no longer supported. Knowing key dates in this lifecycle helps you make informed decisions about when to update, upgrade or make other changes to your software.  Check out the Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet on the Microsoft web site for more information.

As a general rule, we don't recommend upgrading an operating sytsem in place.  We typically recommend changing operating systems when you refresh hardware.  If you have very new hardware, then an in place upgrade may be worth a discussion.  In either case, we recommend having a plan in your 2019 budget to make sure this work is completed well in advance of the end of the year.

Keep in mind that many line of business applications may have problems with Windows 10.  Although Windows 10 was released three and a half years ago, not all third party software providers are up to date and this can lead to a very unpleasant surprise for a business owner.   In some cases, there's a problem because the business is running an old version and the upgrade comes with a significant price tag.  In other cases, the business may be running on the recommended version, but the third-party software provider just hasn't kept up.  This is the main reason we see businesses hanging on to older systems, but in January 2020, these systems will be out of compliance for security and a major risk to the organization.

Get your plan in place now for your remaining Windows 7 systems. We're here to help!  Call us with your questions. 

Tags: data security, Microsoft Windows 7

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