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Ilan Sredni From Palindrome Consulting Shares Insights Into Cybersecurity In A COVID19 World

The advent of the Covid-19 crisis presents new challenges to businesses on many fronts. Ilan Sredni of Palindrome Consulting in Southern Florida addressed some of the more significant cybersecurity and IT concerns in a recent interview.

Everyone is at Risk

Perhaps the most sobering observation made by Srendi is that “everyone is at risk” of being hacked. As these attacks increase in sophistication, especially with government-sponsored bad actors, the risks are growing and potential damage significant.

Moreover, he noted that even as companies are waking up to this growing threat, the responses to Covid-19 are “throwing a big wrench” into the process of proactively protecting their systems.

One of the biggest problems discussed was the way many companies moved their workforces to remote connections without proper planning and procedures. Some companies purchased new laptops and connected them to their MSPs directly with minimal or no protection such as VPN applications.

The Costs of Being Caught Unprepared

Sredni pointed to the damage done by the ransomware attack on Garmin as an example of the serious and growing threat to corporations large and small. The company, known for its aviation and GPS applications, was hit with a full lockout of its IT system in what it identified as a WastedLocker ransomware attack.

Although the company has not released details of how it solved the issue or if/or the total amount paid to receive a decryptor key, the original request was reported to exceed $10 million. Sources indicate this was another attack by the entity known as Evil Corp, supposedly run by Maksim V. Yakubets, a Russian citizen.

The problems created by the attack started with corporate files being encrypted with a .garminwasted extension. While the company’s systems were back online in a few days, the issue created ongoing problems. It is not known how the decryptor was obtained or if backup files were used. Authorities note, however, that the U.S. Treasury Department prohibits any transactions with Evil Corp.

Importance of Proactive Planning

Dealing with the online threat environment requires a proactive approach to business continuity planning and other best practices. While many companies implicitly rely on their MSPs for their frontline protection, nothing should be taken for granted. Sredni’s observations included the fact that a company’s level of protection is only as good as their:

  • Last layer of security
  • Last backup
  • Least educated employee

To apply a well-known phrase to the current cybersecurity situation, one might remember that “eternal vigilance is the price of security.”

Holding MSPs Accountable: Asking Questions

During the interview, it was noted that many MSPs today will claim to have a handle on security issues. They may even add the MSSP designation to their services if they pass some type of test or gain certain certifications.

While that is a good starting point, Srendi makes the point that it is vital to understand the MSP’s capabilities to both prevent and respond to an attack. He acknowledges many service providers will claim to have the knowledge of the threats. However, real-world experience with responding to actual attacks and effectively resolving them is an important consideration. Thus, these providers should be carefully vetted by clients.

Evaluating the cybersecurity capabilities of an MSP should include the steps of:

  • Measuring actual experience versus training and certifications
  • Ability to respond to attacks as well as defend against them
  • Reviewing the case studies, white papers, referrals, and testimonials provided by the firm

Remote Workers Up the Ante

These concerns are even greater now that so many companies are using remote workforces to deal with the COVID environment. Some companies plan to return to their previous status quo when possible. Yet, many others are either moving to a fully remote or hybrid work environment.

The degree to which this move is successful is often a function of the company’s existing management effectiveness and business practices. However, for all types of businesses, this new reality makes proper planning and cybersecurity steps for these workers essential.

Part of the response to this new threat environment is expected to come from additional insights from government agencies. Proactive MSPs will access training provided by the FBI InfoGuard program and the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force.

Decades of Anticipating Problems and Providing Solutions

Srendi’s timely observations come from effectively and proactively serving clients since the pre-Y2K threat era. His firm, Palindrome, has built a large clientele by serving them as more than a services company.

The consultancy services of Palindrome are committed to proactive identification of best practices in all aspects of the IT services segment. Srendi points to the company’s philosophy that it seeks a partnership with each of its clients. That relationship is designed to reduce downtime, increase profitability, and ensure that technology works for the company in the way it is designed and intended.

With a focus on win-win relationships, Palindrome has experience in both preventing and responding to the types of challenges presented by today’s Covi-19 threats.

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