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2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report: The industry takes stock of cyber attacks

Cybersecurity is front of mind for enterprises right now, with everyone on high alert trying to manage potential threats that carry major reputational and financial risks. Each year, the SonicWall Cyber Threat Report uncovers insights extracted from global cyber threat data collected and analyzed by expert researchers. As “the world’s most quoted ransomware threat intelligence,” the report is relied on as an annual snapshot of the threat landscape, helping business and government leaders make informed decisions about cybersecurity.

Below, we share some of this fascinating and relevant data, with our perspective on what it all means for Hawaiʻi businesses.

Hawaiʻi’s malware risks climb

It may surprise people to know that Hawaiʻi was ranked as the 4th riskiest state for malware just behind Kansas, South Dakota, and Iowa. Our 14 million malware hits look relatively trivial compared to states in the 50, 60, and nearly 90 millions, but looking at our 19% “spread,” which accounts for size, population, and other variables, you can see that Hawaiʻi is an extremely high-risk state for malware. As explained in the report, “If we think of malware volume as being similar to the total amount of rainfall in a given region, then malware spread percentage could be compared to the probability of precipitation, or ‘chance of rain,” meaning that any given Hawaiʻi organization has a 19% of being a malware victim. While the report doesn’t pinpoint underlying causes of these malware vulnerabilities, delayed technology adoption and legacy infrastructure in our state may be potential risk factors.

This startling finding may allude to our state’s collectively under-developed cybersecurity posture. Cybersecurity has been top of mind for organizations nationally and globally, but Hawaiʻi has been slow to adopt advanced practices and solutions, leaving our organizations vulnerable to increasingly resourceful cyber attackers. Armed with these hard facts, Hawaiʻi leaders should recognize the looming risk of malware and make cybersecurity a priority.

Record-breaking ransomware

SonicWall recorded 623.3 million global ransomware attacks in 2021, up 105% from 2020 and 231.7% from 2019. The 2021 statistic translates to nearly 20 ransomware attempts every second.

Two of the year’s most infamous attacks hit in May of 2021, involving the U.S.’s largest fuel pipeline, Colonial Pipeline, and the world’s largest meat producer, JBS Foods. Attackers stole nearly 100 GB of data from Colonial Pipeline, triggering a six-day outage and consequent fuel shortages and public panic. In the JBS Foods attack, the company was forced to disrupt operations in the U.S., Canada, and Australia before paying out $11 million in ransom.

The Colonial Pipeline attack originated from a single compromised password, and the JBS attack stemmed from a weak password on an old administrator account. The most painful part of these devastating attacks is that experts suggest they could’ve been prevented with simple password hygiene and multi-factor authentication.

Ransomware strategies persist and evolve

The report notes that business email compromise attacks or “BECs” persist as an increasingly common and effective form of attack. This is when an attacker “impersonates” an executive by mimicking their email address and then emails requests to junior staff, such as wiring money or purchasing gift cards. These attacks are not sophisticated, but they are highly lucrative. The FBI reported losses of roughly $1.8 billion in 2020. Keeping in mind that most of these individual losses, likely happening at small companies for $50 or $100 a pop, go unreported, this number is staggering and is expected to only rise in 2022.

SonicWall’s researchers also identified a new ransomware strategy that they refer to as “triple extortion, an evolution of the “double extortion” attack. Triple extortion occurs when attackers compromise data and threaten to release it, while also sifting through the data, figuring out which entities are most vulnerable, and demanding ransom from them individually, in addition to the original target company.

Hawaiʻi: Pacxa and SonicWall

The perception that Hawaiʻi is safely insulated from cybercrime given our remote geography is, unfortunately, untrue. Of course, Hawaiʻi businesses are also national and global businesses. Cybercrime impacts local businesses daily and poses catastrophic threats to our economy. Cyberattacks are only becoming more common and more advanced. Hawaiʻi organizations must proactively protect themselves with the latest technologies and best practices.

As a SecureFirst Silver Partner, Pacxa holds in-depth expertise in SonicWall’s various cybersecurity products and solutions. Find more information here about steps your company can take to be as proactive as possible.

Read the full 2022 Cyber Threat Report here.

What You Need To Know About Edge Computing

Authored by Bret Peavy, Vice President, Sales and Business Development

Every day, across all industries and environments, companies are discovering how to leverage the constant waves of data to help their organizations be better, faster, and even safer with edge computing. Edge computing refers to “computing that is done on site near a particular data source, minimizing the need for data to be processed in a remote data center,” according to our partner Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

In situations where data plays a key and immediate role, edge computing is essential. For example, during a robotic heart surgery where the extent of the blockage will determine the course of the procedure; at a manufacturing center where equipment malfunctions are pinpointed instantaneously; or, in a retail setting where any delay in response to a shopper’s request will mean losing the sale to a competitor.

Edge computing means getting answers quickly—in milliseconds. By keeping data, storage, management, and control at the edge, companies can minimize insight delay and reduce data bandwidth requirements, lowering overall operations costs. Edge computing also eliminates the security risks associated with moving large volumes of sensitive data back and forth from a data center.

Gartner estimated, “By 2022, as a result of digital business projects, 75 percent of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside the traditional centralized data center or cloud, up from less than 10 percent in 2018.”

Use cases

Healthcare. In healthcare, immediate action for hurt and ill patients is especially critical, and potentially lifesaving. Edge computing extracts insights from the masses of data arriving from doctors’ offices and hospitals to allow providers to make informed decisions in real time, improving the speed and accuracy of diagnoses. Medical delivery devices also employ edge computing in robot-assisted procedures and other delivery methods.

Banking. As banking technologies have rapidly advanced, so have their data processing counterparts. Edge computing helps financial institutions better apply data from distributed branches and ATMs, and deliver ultra-personalized experiences to customers.

Internet of Things. At this point, we’ve all heard of the “Internet of Things.” Everything from refrigerators to agricultural drones to fitness trackers are collecting real-time data. But internet-connected devices are only useful when the data they collect is immediately processed and actionable. Going further with IoT, manufacturers track operations, address assembly line issues, and predict equipment servicing schedules.

And more. A retail store with edge computing can monitor a retail environment with facial recognition technology and behavioral analysis to proactively combat theft. City departments manage traffic flow with preemptive measures such as opening and closing lanes or redirecting around an accident or icy bridge. Edge computing provides unmatched potential for growth and innovation for companies in all industries, while also minimizing security risk and cost.

HPE innovations

Working with HPE, Pacxa is implementing next-generation edge computing environments that adapt across industries and are ideally situated to grow as companies evolve. HPE takes edge computing one step further to the intelligent edge where data is not only processed but also thoroughly analyzed.

HPE innovations are setting the pace for edge computing innovation and IT ecosystems of the future. Its edge solutions comprise data platforms that are flexible, scalable, and comprehensive. These offerings eliminate the need for siloed data, opening up seamless paths between edge and cloud to ensure the peace of mind that comes with effortless backup and recovery.

For harsh environments such as extreme temperatures and rugged atmospheres, the Edgeline EL8000 is a “data center in a box.” The military-grade toolbox-style solution is portable, modular, and compact; the entire solution can fit under an airplane seat. Collecting and securing data is only the beginning. To gain an edge, enterprises should leverage their data and apply it immediately, bringing value and innovation to customers in even the most remote locations. To schedule a demo and learn more about how HPE’s edge computing solutions can help your organization, contact Pacxa today.

Is Your Data Intelligent?

Authored by Bret Peavy, Enterprise Sales Representative

Simply put, intelligent data is data that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to create efficiencies, gain understanding, innovate, and transform organizations and industries. With massive amounts of data generated daily, every enterprise should be looking to unlock insights and seek new business outcomes to progress. Particularly in a hybrid work environment, establishing a system in which data can be safely accessed and seamlessly integrated 24/7 is crucial to enterprise operations.

Although the most important data will vary according to organization and industry, the common hurdles to creating an intelligent data environment tend to be universal across sectors:

  • Data silos,
  • Infrastructure problems,
  • Disruptions to consistent data collection and storage, and
  • A lack of intelligence and integration among systems

The initial questions in considering an intelligent data environment are:

  1. What is our most important data?
  2. How are people in our organization using it?
  3. How can it be harnessed to propel our organization to the next level?

Pacxa customers are transitioning to intelligent data environments with the help of HPE’s intelligent data platform. This platform enables our clients to optimize data at every turn, whether it’s mission-critical or general-purpose, and whether it’s stored in the cloud or on an individual’s device. With a pay-as-you-use consumption model, organizations can realize significantly lower operational storage expenses. And with the platform’s real-time adjustments, problems can be resolved even before they are known.

Here, we’ll look at the foundational pieces of an intelligent data environment.

Storage Efficiency

Storing data often means preventing access to it and sacrificing any insights that may be gleaned from having it in the available data mix. Backup data has traditionally been viewed as an insurance policy. An intelligent data platform helps transform this sitting data into a business asset by using it to unlock answers in real-time.

Storage capacity is also maximized with the platform’s AI-powered projections coupled with its as-a-service model. Organizations can use the data insights to predict fluctuations in storage requirements, and then effortlessly contract and expand capacity by paying only for what they use.

Data Security

Security allows only the right people to access the troves of information. Data that isn’t secure is a liability—it’s at risk of being lost or compromised. The beauty of an intelligent data platform is that it can store data safely and securely, while also keeping it available 24/7 in a hybrid work environment with multiple devices, multiple geographies, and multiple and varied access points. Its built-in protection capabilities include VM backups, multi-side replication, recovery, cloning, and disaster recovery. A zero-trust approach, which entails introducing more friction to access, is now the norm from a security standpoint and means that organizations must work harder to secure their data and systems. The platform helps to streamline resources so that the IT team and budget are not completely exhausted by these security measures.

AI and Analytics

Of course, the point of having data is to use it. An intelligent data environment is primed to analyze information and make connections we might not see on our own. An intelligent data platform creates a foundation for truly leveraging the data, allowing for multiple data-centric workloads, advanced analytics, AI, and large-scale data lakes all in one place.

For example, an HPE case study revealed that their intelligent data platform enabled New York-based IT provider Webair to scale operations with ease. Webair utilized the platform to more accurately project growth and anticipate the need for additional hardware through predictive analytics.

Intelligent Edge

Across all industries, there has been an increase in edge computing or “data at the edge.” Data that was traditionally managed at remote data centers is now being processed in high volumes at multiple locations such as satellite and remote offices. While this decentralized model allows for more efficient data processing, these on-site locations are often unequipped to handle huge amounts of data or are inadequately staffed. An intelligent data platform fills these gaps by maximizing data protection and storage as described above and simplifying management through centralization of IT operations and integrated automation.

With an intelligent data environment, the edge becomes the intelligent edge. The data isn’t just processed near its source, it’s then analyzed and employed. In healthcare, for example, providers are using the edge to access real-time patient insights without processing the information through third-party databases. AI is then applied to improve the speed and accuracy of diagnoses.

Final Thoughts

A strong intelligent data strategy is the foundation to harness your data. Enterprises should plan a transition to an intelligent data environment that will power and mobilize their organizations into the future.

Driving Employee Engagement with Yammer

Authored by Doug Shimokawa, Senior Vice President

IT teams should be aware of the many communication and collaboration tools available to their organizations, especially as these tools evolve and progress. Leveraging these resources can bring team members together, create operational efficiencies, and have transformational impacts. Particularly in the era of remote work, we are reimagining the workday and how we bring employees together.

One tool that companies are increasingly employing is Yammer, a highly accessible enterprise social networking service built into almost every Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plan.

Redesigned in 2020, Yammer offers a full spectrum of communication capabilities, from private messaging to live event streaming. The platform has proven invaluable to many of our clients, and Pacxa employees rely on it as well. Microsoft Teams is our work-related collaboration tool, and Yammer is our social one.

The Modern Day Water Cooler

Yammer is an effective tool for driving employee engagement. In their daily lives, people are accustomed to connecting on many levels via various social media platforms. Yammer brings that concept to the workplace. Internally, our employees use the platform to join communities, such as “Tech Talk” and “Foodies.” Yammer is our modern day “water cooler” or “break room,” where colleagues chat and share information.

Yammer encourages employees to develop new ideas, ultimately leading to cross-collaboration amongst and between teams. Knowledge sharing inspires collaboration and fosters innovation, keys to any organization. It also brings some much-needed levity to the workday – especially because remote employees miss out on group lunches and in-person conversations.

Leverage Large Scale Communications

Yammer provides the ability to engage company leadership by way of live events. This means that employees are engaged at scale, when live virtual events merit gathering the entire company. These types of happenings help to foster culture by bringing people together and underscoring the fact that they are part of a larger organization. Also, the platform features analytics that can be used to track activity and measure engagement.

Microsoft Viva Integration

On February 4, Microsoft announced a brand-new employee experience solution called Microsoft Viva. Viva combines the capabilities of tools across the organization, including Yammer, to empower people and teams to work better, from anywhere. Yammer is a part of Viva Connections, an arm of the platform that brings users “a curated, company-branded experience that brings together relevant news, conversations, and other resources.” Yammer communities, or groups that connect people through shared interests and topics, serve an important role in boosting engagement, and this benefit is captured by Viva.

Pacxa Knows Yammer

Our Pacxa team has the knowledge and experience to help you leverage Yammer to build communities and boost engagement across your organization. Contact us at www.pacxa.com/contact to learn how to activate or add on the tool.

For Yammer adoption guides, training, and other documentation, go to Microsoft’s resource center.

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