Blake Dowling: Is the cloud getting in the way of your cybersecurity plans?

Blake Dowling: Is the cloud getting in the way of your cybersecurity plans?

When I first talk to an organization about their technology, many conversations begin with statements such as “I don’t need any additional cybersecurity” because our systems are in the cloud.

Or “we don’t need backups because our data is in the cloud”. In most cases, these thoughts are incorrect.

The “cloud” is just a server somewhere else; servers should be backed up regardless of where they are hosted.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you back up emails and files, keeping them secure, whether in your office or in the cloud. It hit a huge number of people in Florida (and around the world) this week as Cloud giant Rackspace has been the victim of a cyberattackespecially ransomware.

They revealed the full nature of the attack the fifth day of the outage (last Tuesday)

The short, terrible recommendation on their website should motivate you to take a fresh look at your tech if you haven’t recently.

A screenshot of the publicly available Rackspace website on Monday morning, December 5 at 10:53 a.m.

I had just finished a column on how elections ran smoothly (from a technology perspective) with minimal interference from hackers. Then it happens.

Another “cyber incident” involving an industry powerhouse. From a financial point of view, Wall Street does not like hacking. Rackspace shares fell 8% according to Market Watch (and falling as the week progresses).

I’m a huge Rackspace fan; back in the wild west days of cloud computing – more than 12 years ago – they were one of our earliest cloud partners.

We offered web hosting, cloud servers and email options; they were super easy to work with. Those days have passed as better options presented themselves to our customers, but I remember them as great partners.

It pains me to see them in this difficult situation, because it is bad for all of us.

This incident seems darker than most attacks for the following reason. Usually a company involved in an issue like this would say we’re down and we’ll be back soon (a short, non-PR version of a crisis statement).

In this case, they don’t say that; in fact they say to go somewhere else and start over, don’t wait for them.

Their recommendation is to open new email accounts with Microsoft 365.

New – meaning there is no old email.

I received several emails (mostly from newly created Gmail accounts) over the weekend from organizations in Tallahassee that were affected.

The first asked my opinion on when they will be back. The answer was that I had no way of knowing, but a week or two would be my guess.

The second question was what about my old emails? Based on the scenario they describe, your old emails are not on the table for discussion now.

The goal of integrating with Microsoft 365 will simply give you the ability to send and receive new emails.

Do you see why backing up emails is important? What if he disappears as it did with Rackspace? Sure, in the days and weeks to come, they should be able to offer their customers their archives and historical emails, but what if they can’t?

Eventually Rackspace will recover, but it will take time and it will be messy.

They anticipate major losses as their hosted exchange business generates around 30 million in revenue and thousands of users are affected.

If you use their service for email, take their advice and set up a new email account (365 or otherwise) so you can resume email communications; we did it for those who asked for our help — and it’s a quick process.

Affected or not, it’s time to sharpen the blade. Ask your IT specialist to back up your email. Ditto for SharePoint, One Drive and other cloud services.

Also, at this moment of closing, I offer you a tool that I use about every week.

Want to know if something is wrong? Comcast? Zoom? Rack space? Check Descent detector and you can keep yourself and your team up to date. Be safe and have redundancy and backup at all levels, including internet connections (have a primary and a secondary), emails, files, and even your photos.

The next breakdown is coming; it’s not a question of if, but when. The only question that remains is: will you be ready?


Blake Dowling is the CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, and can be reached at [email protected].

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