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Horror stories and thrillers are back in style, but you don’t have to go to the theater or queue up Netflix to get your fear on this year—especially if you’re a business owner or IT manager. Cybersecurity incidents are increasing, thanks to an expanding attack surface fueled by an explosion of connected devices, better network speeds and the move to the cloud and mobile working. While some hacks, vulnerabilities and malware attacks are fairly tame, 2019 has seen some true horror stories so far, showing us just how scary things that lurk in the darkness of cyberspace can be. Here are just a few of the horror stories we’ve seen so far in 2019.

BlueKeep Vulnerability Lurks in the Shadows

In May, Microsoft alerted Windows users to the BlueKeep vulnerability (CVE-2019-0708), which, if exploited, would allow a remote attacker to take over a victim’s computer and execute code. The main thing that sets BlueKeep apart from other bugs is that it’s wormable – which means that it can self-propagate from machine to machine, setting up the scene for a fast-moving, global pandemic infection wave.

The concern was big enough that Microsoft even took the unusual step of deploying patches to Windows XP and Windows 2003, which are end-of-life and no longer supported by the computing giant. And, the National Security Agency issued a dire warning: “It is likely only a matter of time before remote exploitation code is widely available for this vulnerability. NSA is concerned that malicious cyber-actors will use the vulnerability in ransomware and exploit kits containing other known exploits, increasing capabilities against other unpatched systems.”

There are still hundreds of thousands of unpatched machines in the U.S.; and working proof-of-concept exploits have been created, including one showing how an unauthenticated attacker can achieve full run of a victim machine in about 22 seconds.

Financial Security Hacked Away

Banks just can’t catch a break. They’ve been the targets of robbers and tricksters throughout time, and our migration to the digital realm is no different. Capital One learned this lesson the hard way in July when it starred in its own summertime horror show. A single hacker demonstrated all the ways financial services firms are vulnerable in massive hack of Capital One that opened doors to the data of more than 100 million people through various avenues, including credit card applications, bank account numbers and social security numbers.

Ransomware Dirty Tricks

Ransomware operators carry out dirty tricks year-round. Last month, a rash of ransomware attacks crippled hospitals worldwide, forcing them to turn away patients and cancel surgeries. The cyberattacks froze the computer systems of several medical facilities in the U.S., with the cybercrooks demanding their treat (payment) in order to restore files.

One of the victims was DCH Health System, a regional hospital and medical complex located in Alabama, which resulted in three satellite hospitals turning away patients. The three regional hospitals, located in Tuscaloosa, Fayette and Northport, were “closed to all but the most critical new patients, because cybercriminals were limiting the hospitals’ abilities to use their computer systems in exchange for an ‘as-yet unknown payment.’” The Alabama hospitals decided to pay up, eventually, even though the FBI typically does not recommend doing so.

Ransomware attacks in 2019 have become more targeted against specific vertical businesses, such as local governments and healthcare organizations, with attackers taking the time to know their victims to ensure they can inflict maximum disruption and garner higher ransoms.

Damned by a Data Breach

In September, the rampant data breach trend reached food delivery service DoorDash, which said that a hack affected almost 5 million customers, drivers and local restaurants using its platform.

DoorDash, an on-demand food delivery service, connects end users with local restaurants and relies on contracted drivers who use their own vehicles for delivery, also known as “Dashers.” A variety of personal data was accessed including names, email addresses, delivery addresses, phone numbers and hashed passwords. Also accessed was payment information including the last four digits of payment cards and driver’s license numbers.

This is only one example: Businesses are increasingly facing data breach horrors, as the Dark Web thirst for personal information that can be used for fraud and payment card data shows no signs of abating.

These are but a few of the cybersecurity nightmares we’ve seen so far in 2019, which show that every business, in any industry, is at risk from ransomware and other malware, security bugs, data thieves and more.

To protect your business from cybersecurity ghouls, it’s critical to invest in proactive monitoring and patching of desktops and servers; intrusion prevention and detection; next-gen firewall and antivirus; and remote troubleshooting and repair. If that sounds scarily complex and resource-intensive, don’t worry: TPx has invested in the best IT security technologies, so you don’t have to. In other words, we can help you banish the horrors with all of the above functions, all at one cost-effective price.

If you’re looking for a reliable managed service that will keep your business safe from cyber-monsters, consider TPx. Visit https://www.tpx.com/services/managed-it/  or contact your TPx representative to learn more.

About the Author

Lucie Hys is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at TPx. She is currently leading the marketing efforts for the company’s MSx suite of managed services. She has been working in marketing for more than 9 years, with the last four focusing on the cybersecurity industry. Lucie graduated with an MBA from Florida Gulf Coast University. In her spare time, she is an avid fitness enthusiast and a passionate traveler. 

 

The WannaCry cyber attack that recently wreaked havoc across the Internet disrupted systems at hospitals, financial institutions and other businesses large and small around the globe could have been stopped before it began. The malware, which also goes by WannaDecryptor and WannaCrypt, exploits a flaw in Microsoft Windows that was discovered by the National Security Agency (NSA) and later leaked by hackers. A fix or patch was available in March of this year, but far too many IT departments had it buried on a long list of to-do’s instead of immediately deploying it. The inevitable result was hundreds of thousands of unpatched computers compromised in more than 150 countries.

Hospitals and clinics are particularly vulnerable because they are playing catchup in terms of cyber readiness. Cybercriminals that spread ransomware have figured this out and made medical facilities prime targets for ransomware – malicious software that encrypts computer files and holds them hostage until a ransom is paid – because their targets would rather pay a ransom than put patient health at risk.

But the healthcare industry is only one target in ransomware’s sights. Many small and midsize companies depend on their systems for their existence but don’t have the IT resources needed to fully support vulnerability management, patch management and business continuity management. Indeed, today 70 percent of cyberattacks target small businesses, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance. This is an existential threat – 60 percent of hacked SMBs are forced to go out of business within six months of being breached.

And make no mistake: the threat is growing. The shadowy roster of attackers is global – in many instances, supported by nation-state resources. More than 60 countries are known to be developing arsenals of cyber weapons. With many of their exploits sure to leak into the public domain, the potential for widespread damage is cause for concern at companies of all sizes. Staying safe has never been more critical – or more challenging.

The escalating number of cyber threats against business is one of the prime reasons TPx has added powerful managed IT services to its portfolio and recently made a seven figure investment in a state-of-the-art security operations center in St. Louis, MO. The new operations center houses the latest, most powerful defensive technology and is staffed predominantly with former military defense experts with deep experience in detecting and remediating breaches for our managed security solution, ITx for Firewalls. ITx for Firewalls includes 24/7/365 remote monitoring of your firewall, plus we handle regular updates to the device. The Premium service level also includes best-in-breed UTM (Unified Threat Management).

Customers using TPx’s managed Workstations and Servers services reached for happy hour IPAs instead of thermoses of coffee and bottles of ibuprofen. Their businesses were protected from WannaCry’s demands for ransom because TPx’s proactive maintenance and monitoring automatically updates their systems with the latest patches and monitors their systems.

We’re continuing to make substantial investments in managed security for our customers because even if they don’t know they need it yet, they will. After all, as virtually all security experts warn, it’s not a matter of whether you’ll be breached, but when. Our goal is to ensure that the only tears coming from a ransomware attack are the ones shed by frustrated hackers.

About the Author

Jared Martin, Vice President of ITx Managed Services at TPx

Jared Martin has been in the Information Technology world for more than 20 years. He co-founded a managed services voice and Internet service provider in 2001 and grew the business to significant revenue. In 2008, that company was sold to Tel West Communications, which in turn was acquired by TPx in 2012. Jared has been a technology leader in driving change and adoption of new technologies, such as Software-Defined Wide Area Networking. He is always looking for new ways to use technologies that are outside of the box and to influence TPx to innovate and to be on the cutting edge. In 2016, Jared took charge of TPx’s new ITx line of business, formed as a result of the recent merger of TelePacific and DSCI. This brought Jared back to his roots of providing managed services and a consultative sales approach to customers.