As a father of two teenage boys, I should have seen this coming. It was time to have the talk about the right, wrong, and applying good judgement of things found on the Web.
It started the moment I walked through the door, I was welcomed by my wife with, “I don’t know what those boys were doing on the computer, but you need to see this. It isn’t working. Figure out what they are doing and fix it!” By day, I’m in product marketing and by night I’m in IT. Never a dull moment.
When I took a look, I saw the CPU was pegged at 100%, so I applied my years of experience and certifications to use immediately, and hit Ctrl+Alt+Del-restart without blinking. Problem solved! Until a browser was opened—CPU was once again pegged and I noted strange processes running in the background. With a little more investigation, I found two browser extensions that were crypto mining, which fortunately uninstalled without a problem. Phew.
At dinner, we had “the talk” about safe computing. My high schooler fessed up immediately that he installed the crypto mining extensions just to see what would happen (and to make some money). Although I do appreciate and support his sense of wonder and curiosity, we did talk about the amount of power it takes to mine crypto currency and how this was akin to parents paying for the lemonade and cups for their kids to sell for a $0.25. Sure, the kids are making money, but...
Then I turned the conversation to a more serious topic than a lesson in economics. We discussed downloading applications and extensions from an untrusted source and the risks of being pwned, breached, hit by ransomware, key loggers, or worst of all, an angry mom whose Facebook access is slowed because of siphoned CPU cycles.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month definitely came early to my home, but do you need to worry about the same type of activity happening at your business? After all, you’re not hiring teenage boys at your place of business, right? Well, if your employees still have any sense of wonder and curiosity they will inadvertently or intentionally click, download, and accept all kinds of stuff on their computers—which will lead to attacks on your servers. Drive-by-downloads, phishing, and “this looks interesting to try” has led to cloud servers being used for crypto mining, cities held hostage in ransomware attacks, and nonstop data breaches in the news.
This is why it is so important to have “The Talk” at your business too. One month a year isn’t often enough, but Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October is a great time to start.
Happy Cybersecurity Awareness Month!