For the past couple months, the debate over in-person vs. at home schooling has been a constant topic. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but no one has an answer. Some will argue safety from the virus. Others focus on the mental wellbeing of children. From my standpoint, it seems like they are all right but finding a balance is the nearly impossible task, befallen to the school decision makers.
As that battle wages on, hackers have begun to target schools. Why? Because they are distracted. The all-consuming task of finding the right solution, has left educational institutions vulnerable. Surely the people deciding the best course for children, teachers and families, is not the same person protecting the technology infrastructure, right. Right; that has to be right. Although, the person tasked with protecting the infrastructure isn’t likely the sole person who can make decisions. They have a boss. That boss is not going to prioritize the computers while a thousand parents are complaining from one side of the fence, or another. That boss is distracted and is likely making some rash decisions to make learning work for children, teachers and families. The IT staff will do their best, but they need buy in from the top.
Schools are only one, of many, distracted and at-risk institutions. Hospital systems are working to keep up. Government agencies are focused on fighting the pandemic, helping the unemployed and providing businesses with what they need to keep afloat. Obviously, those businesses are distracted as well… trying to stay afloat. Everyone is distracted. Hackers see this environment, as a pick pocket sees a street magic show. Opportunity.
Social media doesn’t help. Every day, it’s something new. Even if it’s not new, someone will post a video from 20 years ago and claim it supports their presidential candidate today. We’re so preoccupied, arguing the politics of a pandemic, that we’ve forgotten to live our lives, appreciate our friends and families and take precautions
Honestly, people are numb. There is no consistency, when it comes to managing the pandemic safely. A mom and pop store, that may have 2 customers at a time, is closed as a health risk, yet Wal-Mart is open with 300 customers, roaming the aisles. Adding to that, we have social injustice, along with riots and then the election… 2020 has been a tough year and our ability to care about many things has drifted. Again, social media isn’t helping. We are completely occupied with a spoon-fed, mostly false narrative by all sides and isles, that we stopped taking care of ourselves. What was important in 2019, is still important. In many cases, it’s even more important. Numb is understandable but is still unacceptable. Take care of your needs and the needs of your business.
There are things we can do to secure our data and protect ourselves, that will not take a lot of time or money. Good backups, multi-factor authentication and cyber-awareness training are at the top of the list. I just spoke with our insurance broker this afternoon and those are the things the big cyber insurance companies are looking for. IT companies, like HawkPoint, work in tandem with cyber insurance companies. We can secure your data but, as long as you have employees, nothing is ever truly secure. Employees click on things that they shouldn’t, they get too busy to follow a secure process, they fall for expertly manufactured campaigns, designed specifically to trick people. Employees will always be the biggest security risk in a company, and no IT provider, whether internal or external, can entirely protect you. That’s where a good cyber policy comes into play. Like any good disaster recovery plan, we work together, not only to prevent disasters, but also to recover from those that are unavoidable.
Nothing is as bad as it seems. Your network isn’t as bad as you’ve been told, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to protect yourself. However, you do have to protect yourself. One day soon, the pandemic will pass, the election will be over, and we will have a whole new batch of things to worry about. My advice: put down your phone and take a look long look at the real world around you. You have real world work to do. Start with the four things I mentioned above, plus one more:
- Offsite Data Backups
- Multi-Factor Authentication
- Cyber Awareness Training for Employees
- Cyber Insurance
- Secure network infrastructure.
Similar to antivirus, a modern firewall is still amongst the best things you can do to secure your data and ensure your business is operational. Items one through four are relatively new. While they are as important as five, they do not replace the need for five.
This is a tough year. No one blames you for feeling frustrated. You’re not alone in feeling numb and for wanting to hide under a rock until all this craziness passes. What I wouldn’t give for a long vacation on a beach, right now… Most of what is going on is out of your control. Account that and look to the things that you can do to protect yourself and your business.