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No Internet, No Phones, No Access: The Alarming Implications of the PBVUSD Ransomware Attack

By Matt Mayo

DiamondIT, Founder and CEO

In January, Panama-Buena Vista Union School District’s network was infected by ransomware which shut down the school’s phone system and all Windows computers. While school officials lamented late report cards and using manual processes for communications, temporary hotspots and an examination into internal controls and network security, my mind turned to the real issue here – the protection of our children at school.

In a generation that relies on school phone systems and networks to thwart the very real possibility of a school shooting, the significance of the recent data breach at Panama-Buena Vista USD is alarming. It brings to mind the question: What are school districts doing to make sure students are protected and emergency systems are operable at all times?

4 Lessons Learned from Recent Breaches in Bakersfield and L.A.

Some lessons are better learned by observing what happened to others, like the negative consequences of successful cyberattacks. How to protect your organization and data is knowledge you want to acquire without experiencing a breach. The scenarios below illustrate what can go wrong and how you can prevent similar situations at your organization.

Ransomware Can Devastate Your City; Here’s What You Need to Know

Hackers are going to town on municipalities in California and across the country.

Municipalities are popular targets for cybercriminals because most have a variety of services on their websites that requires city residents to share credit card information, addresses and other personally identifying information. Even with the prime data cities store, they often don’t have adequate security solutions in place to prevent ransomware attacks.

Yes, Disaster Recovery Planning is Important – Here’s Why

What’s the worst technology disaster you can imagine hitting your business? An earthquake shattering all your computers, monitors and phones? Hackers stealing all of your customers’ personal information and selling it on the Dark Web? How about your server room catching fire and destroying all communications systems?

All of these and more (let your imagination run wild because it’s probably on the right track) threaten businesses worldwide – including Southern California SMBs. It’s that last one, though – the server room fire – that DiamondIT experienced firsthand with a local business.

Lightning Can Strike Twice: Prepare for Cyberattacks

The adage “lightning never strikes the same place twice” doesn’t apply to cyberattacks. The experience of our client John Balfanz Homes, a premier homebuilder based in Bakersfield, illustrates why.

Saved by the backup

The first attack took place right after we completed offsite backups as part of our BackupCentric solution and as we were setting up SecureCentric, our next-generation security stack. Before SecureCentric was completely installed, a cryptocurrency attack encrypted the builder’s on-premise servers. Because we had offsite backups, we were able to restore files without paying ransomware.

The incident grabbed the owner’s attention, and he asked what else he could be doing. We assured him with SecureCentric and BackupCentric fully installed, he had the right tools in place. Our promise was tested a few months later.

Disasters are Unpredictable – Do You Have a Recovery Plan?

A business owner runs through the street as buildings burn around him. He clutches his business’ server in his hands as he runs, searching for safety.

Sounds like the opening to an end-of-the-world movie, right? Unfortunately, this happened last year to a large medical center with numerous locations around California during the Santa Barbara fires. Because he didn’t have a disaster recovery plan in place, this business manager did the only thing he could think of to protect his data – unplug his server, grab it and run.

How Blockchain Technology Is Being Used to Improve Identity Management and MORE

When many of us hear the word “blockchain” we automatically associate it with bitcoin.  But today, blockchain technology is so much more than the platform behind the bitcoin cryptocurrency – as it is now becoming a serious asset in identity management.

The Importance of Data Back Up: Data Management is the Key to Maintaining a Healthy Business

Lately, the news has been rife with tragic stories – from the hurricanes in Florida to the fires in both northern and southern California.  Even when there are not catastrophic natural disasters, cybercrime such as phishing, DDoS attacks and ransomware can ravage a network and compromise your data.

The fact is, today’s organizations both large and small, have lots of important data to store on their networks – and IDC predicts that even smaller organizations can be dealing in petabytes of data in the next few years, much like their larger enterprise counterparts. If a natural disaster or a cybercrime bars access to all that data or destroys on-premise servers, then mission-critical data can be lost forever.

How to Talk about Cybersecurity to your Board: Cybersecurity Risk Management Oversight Tool

It is no secret that cybercrime has hit a record high. Reports from The Center for Strategic and International Studies and McAfee are estimating that worldwide cyberattacks – including online fraud, financial crimes, post-breach mitigation, cyber insurance and more – are costing the world a whopping $600 billion —  a $150 billion increase over 2014.

Taking into mind that any organization, large or small, can be hit with ransomware, DDoS attacks, and other cyberattacks, the Center for Audit Quality has announced a new tool to help board members, management, and CPA firms have a strategic discussion about cybersecurity risks, mitigation processes, and disclosures.

911 Attacks on Cities Nationwide Bring the Ransomware Threat Home

The 911 Call Centers have become a symbol of rescue and hope.  But in recent months, that very symbol of safety is under attack in such cities such as Baltimore, Atlanta and Seattle.  Ransomware and denial-of-service attacks are targeting these 911 centers, forcing some cities to “write down” emergency calls — pushing the system back 50 years or so.