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Adam Stahl

By: Adam Stahl on February 27th, 2018

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Takeaways from the Cyber Attack on Connecticut State Agencies


Twelve Connecticut state agencies were impacted by a cyber attack over the weekend.

According to reports, the cyber attack appeared to be the nefarious ransomware WannaCry that wreaked havoc worldwide in 2017. Officials say that even though approximately 160 computers across twelve agencies were affected, the outbreak was contained by Sunday night and there were no reports of encryption or data loss.

Fortunately, it appears that the state was able to effectively mitigate ill effects from the attack. As we’ve discussed with Arthur House, Chief Cybersecurity Risk Officer for the State of Connecticut, our state is an international leader in cybersecurity. This was demonstrated in the state’s response to the attack.

Connecticut seems to implement a defense-in-depth strategy to cybersecurity as evidenced by the monitoring that alerted agencies to the event as well as anti-virus software and current patching that reportedly protected the majority of state computers.

However, this is a stark reminder that cybersecurity affects every organization from small businesses to government agencies. Consider this context from our interview with Arthur House:

“Connecticut just for example, we have coming into Connecticut every single month 4.8B connection attempts to the statewide network and external systems each month, inbound and outbound traffic. Two billion of the 4.8 billion are blocked because they don’t meet our protocols and a lot of those are nefarious which could really do extreme damage. Just email—coming into the state there are about 38 million email connection attempts every month, of which 85 percent are blocked.”

Even with an incredibly robust cybersecurity defense strategy, organizations need to successfully defend against every single cyber attack leveled against them daily whereas a malicious actor only needs to win one of those battles to potentially succeed.

How to Protect Your Organization from Ransomware Attacks like WannaCry

Since Kelser and all of its employees are Connecticut residents, we tip our hats to the state for their success in containing this attack and their continued efforts to secure our data.

To help protect your organization from similar ransomware attacks, consider the following tips.

Keep Your System Patching Up to Date

As we’ve seen from major recent outbreaks like WannaCry, Petya/Not Petya, and Bad Rabbit, keeping your systems patched and up to date can be a strong defense layer. Making sure that the exploit a ransomware attack tries to leverage is “sealed off” can effectively prevent that attack before it can infect your system. If constant patching seems overwhelming, we can help you find a solution that keeps your network protected and minimize downtime.

Utilize Strong Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware Protection

Though these products shouldn’t be relied on as your lone layer of defense, having a good anti-virus/anti-malware service can help protect your systems at the endpoint level. Much like your systems, always make sure your anti-virus/anti-malware solution is kept up to date with the latest definitions, signatures, etc. There’s a lot of great products out there and we’re happy to help you find which will best fit your needs.

Employ a Layered Approach to Cybersecurity

The above suggestions work best when implemented as part of a layered approach to your cybersecurity such as Connecticut seemed to utilize. This defense-in-depth methodology gives you all the benefits of multiple cybersecurity practices, products, and solutions while minimizing their collective drawbacks – hardening your defenses against cyber threats of all kinds. Learn more about the defense-in-depth approach and its benefits in this post.

Whether you choose to harden your defenses on your own or work alongside a trusted partner with a Cybersecurity-as-a-Service solution, arguably the most important thing is to make sure your organization is adequately protected. Let us know if we can help bolster your cyber defenses, accelerate your timeline to protection, or just help you be safer today from cyber threats.

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About Adam Stahl

Adam is Kelser's Digital Strategist who invites boundless creativity to achieve outcomes that inspire confidence.

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