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Thoughts From Abbott’s Inbox June 4th, 2021

Thoughts From My Inbox
June 4th, 2021

White House Memos, Overused Words, and Taxidermy

It’s been a quiet week in the old inbox, with only a few noteworthy pieces (and for some reason, the JBS meatpacking ransomware attack never showed up, although you probably caught that one in your own news feed).  There was plenty of other ransomware news, however, and I’ll just keep sharing that until you all realize that you are at risk, no matter how small your business.  There’s also an incredible collection of taxidermy and some overused words.

 

 

Something About…

 

White House Memos

In case you missed it yesterday, the White House has published a memo aimed at American businesses regarding the threat from ransomware.  Included are five suggestions as to how to defend yourself (proper backups, regular patching, etc.) but no mention of high quality endpoint protection,  firewalls, and threat response like those we provide from Sophos.  The head of the National Security Council’s cyber division said what we have been saying all along; “All organizations must recognize that no company is safe from being targeted by ransomware, regardless of size or location.” If you don’t believe it, shoot me an email and I’ll give you specific examples that we’ve seen and dealt with. I’ll also tell you all that we do to protect our clients’ networks.

 

 

Overused Words

Cision’s “Global State of the Media Report” ended up in my inbox, and it lists the 20 most overused words and terms, according to journalists. “Unprecedented”, “innovative” and “transform” are three of the top 20.  Personally, I would like to add “pivot” and “massive”.  Next time you happen to watch the Today Show, put your stopwatch on and see how many minutes into any half hour segment it is until one of the newsreaders calls something “massive” (here’s this morning’s installment). I guarantee it won’t take more than five minutes.

 

 

Small Businesses

We talk with people all the time who say “My business is too small.  We’re not a target for ransomware.”  We try to convince them that they actually are (because A., they think they’re not, and B., they don’t bother to take the proper security measures), but more often than not, it falls on deaf ears.  This is a great example of a small business (eight PCs in their office) being hit by ransom (at 10:30PM on a Saturday, which is usually the case as nobody is paying attention at that time of day, especially on a weekend) and paying $150K (even though the FBI keeps recommending against paying) to get their systems back up and running.  A proper security solution would’ve prevented the infected PC from calling back to the hackers, even after a used clicked on an email or link.

 

 

Pwned

You’re probably familiar with HaveIBeenPwned, the website which allows you to determine whether any of your email addresses have been involved in data breaches (if you’re not familiar, it’s a free tool available on the website). Now, the FBI will be working with HIBP to provide lists of compromised emails.  I checked my personal email account and found that it has been involved in 17 breaches, including Evite and LinkedIn. Just another reminder to not use the same password on multiple accounts, and to change said password when you’re informed of a breach.

 

Casey At The Bat

133 years ago yesterday, The San Francisco Examiner published Casey at the Bat, which is one of the most famous fictional sports pieces, ever.  And any Cleveland sports fan knows exactly what it feels like when Casey strikes out.

 

Driving Lessons 

I think most people in the States learn to drive in a parent’s car, or whatever old beater the driving school has to offer (unless you work with the school here in town that offers Audi convertibles).  In Dubai, you can take your driving lessons in a Porsche, Mercedes, or Bentley.  My only concern is the portion of the embedded video in which the instructor tells the trainee to “check your mirrors every four minutes.”  That’s a little concerning.   Thanks to Ashton security awareness training expert Tom Evans for putting this one in my inbox.

 

 

Real Estate

This real estate listing from Cold Spring, MN came in from Mike Linert of BIG Strategic.  He’s a high school buddy who lives up that way now, and is handling a lot of marketing strategy for us here at Ashton.  And if this house was a Cabella’s, they’d be in great shape!  Never seen such a collection of taxidermy before, and I’ve seen a few impressive ones. It’s actually hard to focus on the house for sale (4BR, 5BA, waterfront, giraffe and baboon not included) with all the stuff in the photos.  Stuffed bears (polar, grizzly, and teddy), three commodes with chalk boards next to them (are we keeping score?), and multiple indoor grills.

 

Russian Keyboards

The gang at Darkside (mentioned above, and those at the root of the Colonial pipeline hack) program their ransomware so as not to work in certain Eastern Bloc countries. If ransomware finds a Russian language keyboard installed on a device, the ransomware will automatically fail to load.  The thought then, is that installing this keyboard might protect you from the Darkside ransomware.   More importantly, it’s mentioned that if you ever mistakenly change the language settings on your system, holding the windows key and space bar at the same time will toggle through the various languages.  This would’ve been great six months ago when we changed our new marketing associate’s system to Bulgarian, as a prank.  Then couldn’t figure out how to get her back to English.

 

Real Estate

I didn’t get any good real estate listings this week, but Doug Freer from Lawn Lad said that last week’s update reminded him of this video.  And yes, it’s pretty much spot on as the real estate market goes right now.  Thanks for your submission, Doug, and keep your eyes open for some Ashton swag!

 

That’s all for this week.  The best part of a long weekend is the short work week that follows. If you missed the college lacrosse championship games last weekend, you really missed out.  Maryland was a last second shot away from OT against UVA, RIT won their first D3 championship in 2OT, and BC’s women won their first championship.  I guess I still have hockey (although the teams I follow are all out of the playoffs), and of course, it’s baseball season (and Progressive Field back to full capacity when the Indians get home next weekend!).

 

Best,
Jim

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