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Whatever changes are in store for the future, one constant that we all will continue to face is the need to protect our data and infrastructure from increasingly complex digital threats. TPx is on the forefront of managed security services, offering a range of turnkey options to protect your critical data and IT systems without the cost and hassle of doing it all in-house. We’ve been able to establish these world-class – and industry-leading – solutions thanks to a team of professionals that runs our state-of-the-art security operations centers (SOC) in St. Louis, Missouri and Portland, Maine. A close-knit group of security analysts and engineers comes together there to deliver high-value, and highly effective, security services for our customers.

Inside Our SOC

TPx Security Operations Center

In a cyber landscape increasingly colored by spyware, ransomware, data breaches, denial-of-service attacks and many others, our SOC delivers TPx customers peace of mind. Most of the team’s time and effort is focused on enabling and managing the security features that are built in to each customer’s firewall.

The TPx SOC was built from scratch to respond to today’s critical need for security services. Developed by former security experts from the United States Department of Defense, it employs both digital and physical protections to its operations, including multistep access protection that includes:

This enhanced physical data protection is driven by requirements like HIPAA, PCI and CPNI standards. It was all designed into the SOC so our clients can rest assured they have all the layers of protection they need, and that they can meet stringent government and industry standards for maintaining sensitive data in key industries.

Meet Some of Our Team Members

Technology is nothing without people.  With this in mind, we’d like to introduce you to some of the members of our growing managed security services organization. It’s thanks to them that our customers can focus on their own businesses by day and rest easy at night.

Steve previously worked as a system engineer for St. Charles County, where he was in charge of network security. He also taught IT and mathematics classes for more than two decades, and has spent his time collecting a slew of certifications along the way. Steve taught IT courses at ITT Technical Institute for 12-and-a-half years, and he taught mathematics at other colleges for more than a decade prior to that. Steve brings no shortage of certifications to the TPx table, including: CCNA, CNA and MCP in 2003 Server; the A+, Security + Certified Authorization Professional (CAP) certifications from ISC2; and many more. When he’s not honing his technical expertise, Steve likes to sing karaoke, play guitar, and fly radio-controlled jets, airplanes and helicopters.
Bob has been on the front lines of fighting Internet abuse for the past 10 years. As a Certified Ethical Hacker, he knows the threats, how you can be attacked, what can go wrong in a response, and what to do to proactively protect your network. When not fighting cybercrime and sifting through forensic data, Bob enjoys playing Afro-Cuban percussion and building electric ukuleles.
Bryan is a network security engineer bringing almost 20 years of experience from his time in the U.S. Army – and in various roles afterwards – in the areas of systems, network, and security administration and engineering. He holds a BSc in Information Systems Security and has numerous security certifications. When he isn’t busy working to keep networks safe, you’ll find Bryan relaxing with coffee and a book, in the kitchen trying out a new recipe, or cheering (probably a little too loudly) for one of the Boston-area pro sports teams.
Charles is a security analyst at TPx, where he monitors networks for security breaches and investigates violations when they occur. He also configures firewalls, sets up virtual private networks (VPNs) and adds upgrades. Charles holds a bachelor’s degree in Information systems and cybersecurity. In his spare time, he enjoys basketball and cooking.
Jesse was originally an IT intern with TPx. He has since forged a path into the MSx Security team where he excels as the team supervisor, working on the best ways to maintain and secure networks. Working with the MSx Security director and product manager, he ensures that customers receive the white glove treatment they deserve.

These are just some of the talented folks behind it all, allowing TPx to offer our 24/7/365 protection and mitigation against viruses, ransomware, DDoS attacks and an increasingly sophisticated array of threats to businesses – all with the highest standard of excellence.

TPx has a full range of state-of-the-art protections and mitigation services, all offered on a cost-effective, managed basis. Managed security is always up to date, which means that the latest threats and security incidents can be quickly identified and receive an immediate response. Call your TPx representative today to find out how we help you navigate the always-evolving threat landscape.

 

About the Author

Adam Weber leads the development of TPx’s security product offerings. He has more than 15 years of experience in security and cybersecurity, both in the public and private sectors. He is a 12-year U.S. Army veteran in communications and was deployed to two combat zones. He has also worked with U.S. government agencies like U.S. Transcom (U.S. Military Transportation Command), DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency), and NGA (National Geospatial Agency). In his spare time, he is a computer and technology hobbyist who enjoys building his own networks, servers, labs, and security infrastructure. Adam holds an MBA from McKendree University and CISSP, CASP, CEH, and Security+ certifications.

 

RSA 2019 in San Francisco

Over 42,000 people attended the RSA Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco last week.  For those who aren’t familiar with RSA, it is the largest and probably most influential global cybersecurity event, bringing together people and companies from all over the world to talk about security practices and technology.

Heavy rain in the Bay Area did not deter anyone from attending – in fact, this year’s conference was bigger than ever. Hundreds of vendors filled up the show floor, waiting to impress the attendees with their products. They took up not only the north and south halls of the Moscone Center, but also the space between them.

Equipped with comfortable shoes, an empty bag for swag, and an abundance of curiosity, I hit the show floor ready to talk security. Like with any other conference, if you can look past the fancy displays and badge scanning, you can find many smart people to engage in conversation. I started out by talking to some of TPx’s security vendors such as Fortinet, Webroot, CounterTack, Rapid 7, and NetScout.

I expected to hear a lot of buzz about AI and machine learning this year, as that was a big theme last year. However, it became clear after talking to our vendors and many other attendees that there wasn’t going to be a specific trend this year.  It was more about going “back to basics,” building a layered approach when it comes to cybersecurity and technology:

Here are some of my favorite quotes from our vendors:

Stephan Tallent, Fortinet’s Sr. Director, MSSP & Service Enablement: “Managed security service providers were out in full force as many sought to simplify the daunting security challenge that RSA illuminates with the myriad of security vendors on display, all vying for attention. So many security vendors, so few that actually share and operationalize threat intelligence across the attack surface.”

George Anderson from Webroot: “Customers want less complexity, more simplicity, more integration, and more one-stop-shop places to go to. Often people are too focused on security as being products and technology and not enough being about human beings.”

This year’s RSA Conference only served to reinforce that TPx is doing the right thing for its customers by offering managed services that address a layered approach.  TPx doesn’t look to replace IT teams, but rather help companies augment their IT teams with enterprise-level technology and services that most small and mid-sized businesses can’t afford doing on their own, especially not 24/7.

If you attended RSA this year, what were the highlights of the conference for you? Share them with us in the comments.

 

About the Author

Erik Nordquist is the Senior Product Manager for TPx Communications’ managed security services. He’s led a broad range of critical activities, including Field Operations and the Hostmaster team where he built TPx’s anycast DNS network to service its 55,000 customer locations. His work on the Network Integrity team made him the resident expert for mitigating Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. After interfacing with customers for years, Erik is bringing his customer-focused approach to his Product Manager role, helping to deliver first-in-class security services to TPx clients with unsurpassed customer support.

 

stay secure on a limited budget

The ambition and dedication of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) drive the modern U.S. economy. These businesses face special challenges in the IT space because they don’t have the staffing, institutional knowledge and financial resources that larger enterprises do.

The Threat Landscape for SMBs

99.7% of all U.S. businesses have fewer than 500 employees. That huge footprint makes SMBs a prime target for cyberthreats, cybercrimes, and data breaches and theft – and an attack can have a devastating effect on an SMB’s viability.  The small to midsize business is an increasingly attractive target to malicious actors and cybercriminals because it is often unable to maintain the tools, skills, knowledge, and staff required to adequately defend the business.

According to Barkly, 57% of SMBs reported an increase in cyberattack volume in the last year. However, even though cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, only 36% of SMBs expect to be willing or able to increase their cybersecurity budget in FY2019.  These numbers point to a chilling existential risk to the survival of SMBs that rely on access to their data.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s Public Statement plainly states:

Cybersecurity is clearly a concern that the entire business community shares, but it represents an especially pernicious threat to smaller businesses. The reason is simple: small and midsize businesses (“SMBs”) are not just targets of cybercrime, they are its principal target. In fact, the majority of all targeted cyberattacks last year were directed at SMBs.

Why Are SMBs Being Targeted?

The same SEC Public Statement also indicates that many SMBs cannot handle a cyberattack effectively on their own.  A survey in the same report indicated that as many as 27% of SMBs have no cybersecurity protocols at all, and as many as 60% of them did not respond to a cyberattack correctly.  These conditions are exactly what a cybercriminal or malicious actor needs to continue perpetrating their attacks.

The question of “why” SMBs are being targeted at such high rates is easy to define.  It’s much harder to change the characteristics that make SMBs a high-priority target.  However, one thing is certain: money is a primary motivator for cyber adversaries. Cybercriminals are either trying to steal the SMB’s money directly, or they’re looking for data that they can sell for a profit on the black market.

Whether the discussion about how to assist SMBs in their cyber defense is about training, education, tools, skilled employees, around-the-clock monitoring, or using the most up-to-date technology to mitigate threats and vulnerabilities, the sticking point is always about the budget, the financials, and the overall impact on the business plan.

Managed Solutions for SMB Cybersecurity

Some SMBs will attempt to “go it alone.”  According to a report from Trustwave and Osterman Research, in 2014 SMBs spent $156 per user on security solutions (software, hardware, services and other technology), compared to $72 for enterprises.  Of this spend, only about 19% was dedicated to managed or cloud services.

The conclusion of this report indicates that security solutions for SMBs are often too expensive to purchase outright, which is why Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have been a financial relief to them.  Investments in inclusive infrastructure solutions, software solutions, computing solutions, or expert staff are cost-prohibitive for most SMBs.  MSPs provide these solutions at a fraction of the cost.  MSPs have the knowledge to monitor for, assess, analyze, report on, mitigate, and remediate cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities for many customers at once, without having to undertake the onerous financial burden that an SMB would undoubtedly face on its own.

Some of the solutions a Managed Services Provider can offer include:

  1. Triage – Underskilled and undertrained IT staff face an insurmountable task when looking at the sheer quantity of passive and active attempts to infiltrate a network or device. Every SMB has specific data that is important to its business plan, and has unique and proprietary systems that require protection.  Additionally, there are often industry standards, regulatory compliance requirements and customer data protections that dictate what can or can’t be done.  MSPs can implement prioritization techniques that analyze the severity of attack attempts and appropriately implement policies that thwart them.
  2. Automation – MSPs can purchase more state-of-the-art tools and appliances, allowing them to implement automated tasks and alerting. This gives MSPs an advantage that many SMBs cannot afford to implement.  A streamlined and automated workflow of alerting, reporting, mitigating, or even remediation can result in large financial savings rather than waiting on a human being to perform the same tasks.
  3. Education and Training – Cybersecurity training and education is a never-ending task. MSP security analysts and engineers undergo constant training on tools and appliances, and they continue to accumulate security certifications in quantities that SMBs would likely never be able to afford.  Additionally, MSPs can provide user training to inform their customers of the dangers in the cybersecurity landscape.  Some of these dangers include opening unknown emails, clicking unknown ads, implementing poor passwords, connecting to unsecured WiFi networks, and browsing dangerous websites.
  4. Up-to-Date Technology MSPs have the budget and the business plans to purchase high-quality products from specialized vendors in the cybersecurity space. As a result, MSPs can offer SMBs a top-grade solution that would otherwise be unattainable for them.  Next-generation firewalls, backup and recovery, endpoint detection and reporting are all tools that are now available to SMBs through MSPs at a fraction of the cost of implementation.

By working with an MSP, your business can reduce the costs of downtime and business interruption, while spending less on salaries and minimizing turnover. You’ll also save on related costs like training, education, and specialized equipment and services which come with the MSP’s extensive in-house teams.

Ready to see how TPx can help you stay protected while cutting costs? Talk to a TPx specialist today.

 

About the Author

Adam Weber leads the development of TPx’s security product offerings. He has more than 15 years of experience in security and cybersecurity, both in the public and private sectors. He is a 12-year U.S. Army veteran in communications and was deployed to two combat zones. He has also worked with U.S. government agencies like U.S. Transcom (U.S. Military Transportation Command), DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency), and NGA (National Geospatial Agency). In his spare time, he is a computer and technology hobbyist who enjoys building his own networks, servers, labs, and security infrastructure. Adam holds an MBA from McKendree University and CISSP, CASP, CEH, and Security+ certifications.

 

Cybersecurity trends in 2019

In today’s business landscape, it’s not a matter of if you’ll be hacked, but when. Cyber adversaries are using more sophisticated methods and attacks are becoming more commonplace. With our greater dependence on technology, it is unlikely that we’ll see this trend reverse anytime soon. More companies are starting to realize that cybersecurity prevention is not optional – are you?

While no protection can ever be foolproof – as we know from the legions of breaches and hacks in the headlines – preparation and risk management are still key. Businesses need to not only think about strengthening their defenses via security policies, controls, people and processes, but also figure out how to minimize exposure and damage control in the aftermath of a cyberattack.

It’s against this backdrop that we can see five major trends in cybersecurity forming for 2019.

1. Increased Awareness and Spending, Including by SMBs

Given the volume of cyberattacks that the average company faces, organizations are carving out ever-larger portions of their budgets to devote to cybersecurity. In fact, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that global spending on cybersecurity products and services will exceed $1 trillion cumulatively by 2021.

SMBs are no exception to this, despite being more resource-constrained than other business segments. They’re taking it seriously, and putting aside more budget than ever before to address security.

2. The Cyber Workforce Shortage Will Only Get Worse

With cyber threats on the rise, it also increases the demand for the experts who can deal with them.

There’s a significant cybersecurity workforce shortage in the United States, and it looks like it’s going to get worse over the next few years. According to CompTIA’s Assessing the Skills Gap report, nearly half of companies say the IT skills gap has grown in scope and depth over the past two years. And on a more quantified basis, the Center for Cyber Safety and Education says that there will be a projected 1.8 million unfilled positions by 2022, which is an increase of 20 percent in just two years.

3. Good and Bad Guys Will Make Greater Use of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are increasingly being deployed to better pick out anomalies amongst behavioral norms and spot potential attacks faster. The system takes some time to observe the environment and determine what normal behavior is, then establishes a baseline – so that it can pick up on deviations from the norm by applying algorithmic knowledge to a data set.

This can have big implications for security personnel, especially for SMBs. All too often, companies simply don’t have the resources to search through the haystack of anomalies for the proverbial malicious needle.

However, there are also downsides to the emergence of AI. For one, the technology has been leveraged by cybercriminals to do things like scan for open and vulnerable ports. It has also been used to automatically generate emails that have the exact tone and voice of the company’s CEO, learned over time by 24×7 eavesdropping. In the not-too-distant future, cyber-drones could emerge to attack other machines. This may all sound like science fiction, but it’s happening right now and will continue to evolve in the near future.

4. We’ll See More Fileless Attacks

In a disturbing trend, fileless malware attacks rose 94 percent between January and June 2018. It now represents 42 out of every 1,000 attacks on computers, according to recent analysis of 2018 data.

As the name suggests, fileless malware infects computers without leaving any files on the local hard drive, which in turn makes it harder for traditional antivirus solutions to notice it. Typical fileless attacks exploit vulnerabilities in browsers or use phishing to entice a victim to click on an attachment. When it’s executed, the code runs in the computer’s memory and uses the programs already on the system to carry out its dirty work.

5. Managed IT Services Are On the Rise

With so many proliferating attacks, the managed IT services market is taking off. It’s expected to be worth $257 billion by 2022.

Services like managed endpoint security can ensure that patches and updates are always installed, and can provide integrated anti-malware and anti-virus technology. Managed security can also include firewalls and intrusion detection, with 24×7 monitoring, and troubleshooting and repair.

For SMBs in particular, managed IT services can provide the answer to a lack of in-house personnel and budget. Managed services give them their own cybersecurity department in a cost-effective, pay-as-you-go model – and those services are always up-to-date to address the latest threats.

SMBs are realizing that they can’t go it alone as the escalating risk of cyberattacks tops the agenda. Attacks are getting more complex, and the number of attacks is growing – and so is the skills gap for cybersecurity staff.

With 2018 coming to an end, a good business resolution would be to put your cybersecurity matters in order so you can avoid unpleasant surprises in 2019. TPx has a full range of state-of-the-art cybersecurity protections and mitigation services, all offered on a cost-effective, managed basis. Request a free consultation today to find out how we help you navigate the always-evolving threat landscape.

 

About the Author

Erik Nordquist is the Senior Product Manager for TPx Communications’ managed security services. He’s led a broad range of critical activities, including Field Operations and the Hostmaster team where he built TPx’s anycast DNS network to service its 55,000 customer locations. His work on the Network Integrity team made him the resident expert for mitigating Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. After interfacing with customers for years, Erik is bringing his customer-focused approach to his Product Manager role, helping to deliver first-in-class security services to TPx clients with unsurpassed customer support.

 

Cybersecurity Horror Stories

This time of year, we’re all acutely aware that ghosts are ghoulish, shadowy figures are spooky, and vampires are hiding in the night. But if there’s one thing you should truly be afraid of, it’s the threat of a cyberattack hitting your business.

October is about more than the frights of Halloween – it’s also National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). TPx is joining the mission to educate the community on the dangers of cybersecurity threats.

We all regularly see the headlines of companies paying millions of dollars as a result of data breaches. As a small or mid-size business, you might brush it off as “it won’t happen to me.” But just because the news doesn’t report on attacks on smaller companies, it doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. In fact, nearly two-thirds of cyber breach victims are small to mid-size businesses. They don’t make it into the news because they don’t affect as many people and don’t cost millions of dollars; however, they do cost enough to make or break a smaller business. According to an October 2017 report from UPS Capital, the average cyberattack costs small businesses between $84,000 and $148,000. Of course, aside from monetary damages, there are damages to customer trust and brand reputation which may never quite return to the pre-attack state.

Let’s take a look at some noteworthy examples of cyberattacks from the last 12 months. Warning: these are so frightening that you might want to sleep with the lights on tonight.

Two Terrifying Tales of Ransomware Infiltrating Government Systems

This March, the city of Atlanta was hit by a massive ransomware attack. Atlanta’s residents were unable to perform simple tasks like paying parking tickets or utility bills because the ransomware attack locked down the city’s files. The hackers demanded payment of approximately $50,000 in Bitcoin. But the real damages supersede this amount by far: the city will now need to come up with $9.5 million to address the remaining damage, more than 6 months after the attack. That amount is on top of the more than $2 million in emergency procurements Atlanta Information Management sought following the attack. But remember, it’s not always just about monetary damages – the cyberattack also destroyed “years” worth of police dash-cam video footage.

More recently, the Port of San Diego fell victim to a ransomware cyberattack, only days after a similar ransomware attack hit the Port of Barcelona in Spain. Such attacks can have ripple effects throughout a variety of industries. They not only bring the movement of goods to a halt in the targeted country, they also slow or stop operations in any other country that ships goods to or from the affected port.

Government organizations like these are frequently a popular target for cyber adversaries. Experts that study public administration and local government especially worry about small to medium-size cities and counties that hold a lot of data, but may not have the in-house resources to keep that data secure.

Three Horrifying Stories of Attacks on the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare is another industry where you can find many cybersecurity horror stories. Last December, a cyberattack knocked the University of Rochester’s Jones Memorial Hospital offline for a week. Fortunately, this small rural provider was prepared and used standard downtime operations that its team regularly trained for. Otherwise, the damage could have been far worse.

Another recently-reported cyberattack happened to an Indiana hospital. A computer virus forced the hospital to cancel elective surgeries and divert ambulances as a result. Protecting hospitals’ computer networks is crucial to preserving patient privacy – and more importantly, life itself. Even so, recent research shows that the health care industry lags behind other industries in securing its data.

Yet another recent example from the medical field comes from the Fetal Diagnostic Institute of the Pacific (FDIP) in Honolulu, which just notified 40,800 patients of a potential data breach after it fell victim to a ransomware attack in June. Only after discovering the ransomware, FDIP tapped a cybersecurity firm to remove the malicious software and restore its data via backup files. However, the cybersecurity firm was unable to determine whether the hackers had viewed or removed any of the information on FDIP’s servers. They only knew that the cyberattack enabled hackers to access current and former patients’ names, dates of birth, home addresses, account numbers, diagnoses, and other types of personal information.

Banks, schools, accountants… the list of companies hit by cyberattacks keeps on going across all industries. Don’t be next! Talk to TPx about how we can help you stay secure so that you’ll have no horror stories to tell.

 

About the Author

Lucie HysLucie 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.