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5 important facts you need to know about the Texas-based ransomware attacks

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Whomever is the culprit for all these ransomware attacks on local U.S. government entities sure is getting a ton of notoriety in the media. With 22 reported and known public-sector attacks so far this year, and none tracked by the federal government or FBI, according to CNN, I say, the more information available the better for those needing to protect themselves. 

The most recent ransomware attack happened in my home state of Texas against 22 small-town governments, and while our “Don’t mess with Texas” campaign is aimed at road-side litter, I think it’s appropriate that we take out the trash on cybercrime, too! Here’s 5 important facts you need to know about these attacks: 

Names of the attacked municipalities are undisclosed, except for two. The city of Borger, Texas, located a few miles north of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle, issued a statement noting that as of Monday, August 19, 2019, birth and death certifications are offline, and the city is unable to take utility or other payments. The city reassured residents that no late fees would be assessed nor would any utilities be shut off.

Keene, Texas, located just outside Ft. Worth, Texas, was also affected in a similar fashion as Borger. They, too, are unable to process utility payments via credit card. Keene Mayor, Gary Heinrich, told NPR, that hackers breached the information technology software used by the city and managed by an outsourced company, which according to the Mayor also supports many of the other targeted municipalities. 

Heinrich also noted that the hackers demanded a collective ransom of $2.5 million but also said there’s no way his city will be coughing up the dough!
“Stupid people,” Heinrich told NPR, referring to the cyber attackers. “You know, just no sense in all this at all.” 

Attacks seem to be from one, single threat actor. This means only one cybercriminal or cyber-criminal group is responsible for the attacks. 

Attacks are coordinated. What’s so alarming about these attacks is that they simultaneously targeted approximately two dozen cities, dubbing it as a “digital assault.”

Attacks are mostly rural. Small-town governments usually don’t have the budget to staff in-house IT, instead using outsourced specialists. This could mean valuable time that should have been used to quickly assess each incident was spent bringing the outsourced specialists up to speed about the details of the attack before any response could begin. 

The overarching goal is response and recovery. The affected municipalities are assessing and responding and, as quickly as possible, moving into remediation and recovery to get back to operations as usual as soon as possible. 

 

Answers in Austin

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When I looked at the SIA update this morning, I saw a headline about the cloud and cybersecurity concerns. Want to learn about cybersafety in the cloud? Come to Cloud+ in Austin in November!

Cloud+ is the only conference where you can learn how cloud technology is reshaping the security industry, what the potential is for your business and what steps you can take now to enhance your bottom line with cloud-based technology. Cybersecurity is on the agenda.

Sponsored by Security Systems News, the inaugural Cloud+ took place in Silicon Valley in December 2015. This year we’re thrilled to be holding the event in the high tech hub of Austin, Texas. Cloud+ 2016 will take place at the Lost Pines Resort in Austin on Nov. 29 and 30.

SSN launched this conference because we believe that cloud-based technology is the new frontier in physical security. Just as early adopters jumped on IP a decade ago, early adopters today are moving to the cloud.
We’re looking forward to building on the success of last year’s event, which featured speakers from Google and Microsoft.  

As usual, we'll take a TechSec-style approach to the educational program. Expect interactive educational sessions featuring cloud experts from inside and outside of the security industry.

I’m putting together the conference educational program right now. Have a great idea for a speaker or session topic? Call me.

One of the sessions that's already lined up will address central station capabilities in the cloud. It will include cloud providers and will be moderated by one of the country's leading integrators Jeffrey Nunberg of ISS in Miami. Nunberg will be asking the hard questions that all integrators want answered: How is it done? What are the options? Which integrators will benefit the most from moving monitoring to the cloud? What kind of the front-end investment is required and what kind of ROI should integrators and end users expect?.

Stay tuned for more on the educational program.

One of the coolest things about Cloud+ is the exhibit hall: It’s solely focused on cloud-based technology and it’s the only place you can see physical security cloud technologies side-by-side in one room.

Steve Van Till, CEO of Brivo, and one of my Cloud+ advisors, had this to say about Austin: “Austin is perfect because it combines great accessibility for travelers, a very strong tech-focused business community, and lots of local culture for those who want to get out and do something memorable with colleagues or customers.”

Yes! Austin is not your old-school, typical-security-industry-style convention location. In addition to the fact that every important high-tech end user has an office here, I’m convinced you cannot find a bad musician in the town.

It’s also home to a first -class university, restaurant options galore, and there’s easy access to the great outdoors.

Mark your calendar for Cloud+, Nov. 29-30, 2016. Here's a link to the Cloud+ website.

Securadyne in Celebration

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12/12/2014

ALLEN, Texas—Eighteen security cameras will soon keep watch over Celebration Park in an effort to curb costly vandalism, according to a report in starlocalmedia.com.

Alarm helps business owner find suspect hiding in ceiling

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01/22/2013

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—Cowboy Tobacco Company owner Jimmy Jackson had a feeling something was amiss when his alarm company called to say his shop alarm was going off, but he wasn’t immediately aware of just how amiss.