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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.