Blake Dowling, Author at Florida Politics - Page 2 of 7

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com or at www.aegisbiztech.com

Blake Dowling: This week’s threat — LeakerLocker

The technical landscape of 2017 offers a never-ending parade of innovation, as well as a full-on riot of various tech threats.

Cyber crooks and terrorists want your dollars and to cause chaos, too. To that end, they use several motivational tools, including one ransomware scheme that asks you to infect two other people before they give you your data. That one is devious beyond words.

However, the latest threat takes it one step further: Crooks look to embarrass you by revealing your most sensitive photos — unless you pay them, of course.

(Yes, that’s Tom Hanks hazing some poor bloke, taking pics with that guy’s phone while he deals with being … overserved)

That picture of Tom Hanks may still be on the G-rated side, but I am certain some of you have photos on your PC/tablet/phone that you prefer would not be made public on the internet, or sent out to your contacts.

There are many political figures I can think of, who have enough problems as it is; I (for one) wouldn’t want to see what’s on former Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais’s PC, or that on the tablet of disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York. *Shudder*

Can you imagine if Bill Clinton had a smartphone while in the White House? And what if those pics had been hacked? *Double shudder*

We all have seen what the current POTUS has unleashed on the world tech-wise, shoving his tweets in your face.

Obama and Trump each have their own style on Twitter; I don’t want to see the pics on either of their phones either.

Back to our story … the newest threat out there is called LeakerLocker, and it’s a doozy.

This program attacks your phone and threatens to start sending out your pics at random to various phone contacts (both text and email). Currently, this threat targets only Android phones, and just like other ransomware threats — pay the ransom ($50) and they say they will release the lockdown of the phone and not send out any more pics.

This threat was discovered in the Google Play Store. Security company McAfee is warning users against downloading apps called “Booster & Cleaner Pro” or “Wallpapers Blur HD” and they are embedded with the threat also. For today’s purposes, I am referring to LeakerLocker as ransomware, but Ken Spinner — VP of Engineering — is categorizing this new threat as “extortionware.”

Earlier this week, Spinner clarified that with the following statement in Security Magazine online:

“LeakerLocker is a good test case for extortionware, which still has a few hurdles to clear. Ransomware encrypts data in place without actually stealing it,” he said. “Extortionware has to bypass traditional network monitoring tools that are built to detect unusual amounts of data leaving their network or device. Of course, information could be siphoned off slowly disguised as benign web or Domain Name System traffic.” (Full article here)

So great, a whole new category of threats. Just what we need.

LeakerLocker also claims to share your browsing history on your phone with your contacts, making it the gift that keeps on giving (like the “Gin of the Month” club). This threat is only the beginning, so who knows how far it will go.

Rest easy iPhone users, you are free and clear on this threat — for now.

That’s all for today, see you out there.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He has recently been binge watching the show “THE 100” and is not embarrassed to admit watching CW shows. (Well, maybe a little.) He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

Blake Dowling: Wise Kim meets Leon County

The “Leon Consulate of Florida” was overthrown this week, thanks to the chumps at the Moroccan Islamic Union-Mail.

I suppose they meant Leon County, since this hacking wing of ISIS hasn’t quite mastered English.

What they refer to is the Leon County (North Florida) website; it was indeed hacked for a couple of minutes, replaced with this creepy message:

Welcome to the Leon Consulate of Florida.

County officials responded immediately that the attack was only “surface level” and all sensitive data was protected behind a firewall. Perhaps the county needed a little distraction from the FBI-fueled barrage of media coverage over the past couple of weeks. Good job Kim.

If you check out the Facebook page — although I would not recommend it, as the National Security Agency and FBI might be tapping on your door, or you might make a list you would rather not be on — you will see a warning to all that this group is going to be attacking “the most important sites in the world” over the next few days.

So look out Andrew Gillum, Chris Christie, John Morgan and Tmz.com — this means you.

Tighten up those websites. Apply patches, run updates, don’t host sites in an unsecured location etc. Although it appears this particular hack did squat in our Capital City, what happens when one actually wreaks havoc?

Get your hands off of me, you damn dirty hackers.

In last week’s Petya ransomware attack, a few firms got hit hard.

Reckitt Benckiser (Britain), the maker of Norofen tablets, Durex condoms, and other quality products, are still partially down as of this writing. They got pummeled; manufacturing, shipping, ordering, all disrupted. The global tab for this attack could reach $100 million, the company estimates.

Some firms pay ransom to try and get their data back, but the bitcoin payments were made and (poof) nada.

So, unlike similar recent attacks, this one appears to have launched just to create chaos and digital destruction in a specific area.

We will see a lot of this in the near future as nation-states wish to wage cyberwarfare with one another versus more traditional combat.

Besides Wise Man Kim, no one else seems to want WW3, but if it came down to that, here are the current Top 5 militaries most likely to come out on top.

A local CBS affiliate is about to enter my office for a quick segment about cybersecurity, so allow me to wrap this up with some ways to protect your business or organization from hackers and threats.

Step 1: Strong password.

Step 2: Antivirus and antispam solutions.

Step 3: Firewall.

Step 4: Robust backup.

Step 4: Don’t piss off CNN.

Step 5: Training.

No, don’t piss off CNN.

Steps 1 through 4 used to be enough, but people aren’t getting the message. Users are still clicking where they shouldn’t, so they must be trained, followed up by intrusion testing (try this test for your staff).

Next, more training; even then, you won’t be 100 percent protected, but you will minimize risk.

As far as best practices go, that is a good path.

In closing, I hope Wise Kim gets back to his party island and stops with the missile shenanigans, that will only end badly for him and the world.

I hope CNN gets back to broadcasting news, and that no one else gets subpoenaed in Tallahassee for CRA-Gate. We need some good news in our region (like local hero Walter, nice work sir:

That’s it for today, have an awesome weekend.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, enjoys the Allman Brothers Band, the writings of Hemingway, and any movie with Pauly Shore. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: With ads, 2017 is an all-new animal

Who remembers when beer commercials were awesome? What happened to Spuds McKenzie?

This awesome Lone Star Beer ad really shines:

Or the team of studs at Elsinore Brewery:

And — last but not least – this Schlitz Malt Liquor ads that ruled the early 80s (which might have been the pinnacle). No one does it like the bull:

For so long, TV was everything from a media buyer’s stand point — but then it all changed. When pushing a product, or running a campaign, traditional media outlets stay, but the landscape has changed and opportunities are vast.

Facebook ads, Twitter gurus pushing your product, and utilizing analytics from social engineering.

My friend Michael Sharp, managing director for Nielsen Local Agencies, says this about media buying:

“In today’s fragmented media environment, media buyers need access to dependable, actionable and accurate data that facilitates the advertising planning and buying process. Nielsen’s wide range of solutions enables agencies to effectively deliver on an advertiser’s campaign objectives while helping them uncover new audiences and consumer segments.”

A law firm in North Florida – which definitely does not consult about marketing with anyone from this century – says they still advertise on the back of the phone book.

When is the last time anyone has seen a phone book?

The other day, I heard a kid ask: “What’s a phone book?”

Disruption strikes again. We cannot even keep up with the terminology. You might say “I read something in the newspaper,” but did you really read a “newspaper?” Or are you just referring to a news website of a former newspaper?

Sounds like we need some charts …

Thirty years ago, if Ford and wanted to sell cars, they placed an ad in the auto section of a local paper. Guaranteed return on investment.

Now, there is geo-fencing, tweeting, hiring Matthew McConaughey to drive cars around.

What happened to radio? When I started my career, every morning began with a Mountain Dew, listening to the Regular Guys on 96 Rock while rolling into the downtown ATL (83 Walton Street, Capricorn Records Building).

I have not listened to the radio in 11 years.

Obviously, I am stating some pretty obvious trends here, but when thinking about marketing, you need to start thinking differently. The winner of the past two U.S. presidential elections utilized grassroots social media tools — coupled with finely tuned paid analytics — to sway the vote.

So, TV and radio are certainly not dead, and (according to some experts) local radio still can reach 90 percent of the U.S. population on a weekly basis (I’m a 10-percenter, I guess).

Nevertheless, these experts all agree … it’s a new animal in 2017.

Then, of course, there is the fun of everyone gathering personal info on the web, even as they assure us they will not use it. But, I assure you, they do.

Auto-buying pattern tools are watching and changing your online experience, suggesting and swaying your activities.

Let’s hear from this Princeton dude:

“The modern web is a mashup, which means the content that you’re looking at on the page, which just looks like one single webpage with text and graphics, is in fact assembled from multiple different sources, sometimes dozens, and these different sources can be a variety of different companies,” explains Arvind Narayanan, assistant professor of Computer Science at Princeton, “When you look at a webpage, there’s content visible to you and invisible stuff purely for the purpose of tracking what you’re doing.”

In the end, it’s all pointing to privatized content platforms (such as Netflix), social media, targeted analytics, high-profile influencers, and websites. You have to find your buyers and voters.

Available tools are endless, and (for the love of Spuds McKenzie) stop sending direct mail pieces –this means you, politicians.

They go straight to the trash and don’t even make it through the door.

My advice? Put aside $5M for a Super Bowl ad (as Mike from Nielsen told me offline — TV ads are still very effective) and your message will still get through.

If that’s not in the budget, start with about $200 a month in paid Facebook ads and see what happens.

Good luck out there; let’s close with a classic beer slogan: “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer.

Miller Beer. Perfect.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and his favorite TV show is The Fall Guy.

 

Blake Dowling: 2018 is coming, time to tighten up voter tech

Only in the world of politics can an election take place with both sides claiming they got the W.

In college football, it’s simple; you win or you lose — unless you are a Tennessee fan, then you get to be a “champion of life.”

I am sure Tennessee Coach Butch Jones meant well when he muttered those words last year, but come on man.

Back to politics. The special election (Karen Handel versus Jon Ossoff) in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District this week had everyone chattering.

Democrats say it was a close race in the heart of a deep-red district, meaning great things for 2018.

Republicans say they won even though they were outspent 5-1.

Regardless of your position, the Republican Party did “Handel” the competition. (Nice name, Karen; campaign slogans are endless.)

If I were her campaign manager, we would fire up crowds with the Black Crowes’ “Hard to Handle” blasted before every event.

However, one thing unheard (for once) is technology interfering with the election. Apparently, Russia doesn’t care about what goes on in Georgia.

A ZDNet headline this week said this: “198 million Americans hit by ‘largest ever’ voter records leak.”

Which is interesting because the potential exposure was discovered by a security expert and locked down before the information was leaked or stolen.

Was this a fake news headline, pure clickbait?

Here’s what went down. A company named Deep Root Analytics tracks voter information — not just names and addresses, but how the voter feels about issues — compiled using specific social engineering software (see my next column in INFLUENCE Magazine for a trip down that rabbit hole).

Deep Root had a terabyte of data sitting on an Amazon server that was potentially easy to breach. That was bad. On the bright side, it was good that the breach was discovered by a white-hat hacker before that info spilled.

Keep in mind, however, in states like Ohio you can already access every voter (names, addresses, etc.) in the state without needing to hack anything. So, another massive leak was avoided (maybe).

Our voter tech is behind, as is everything else we are plugging into the internet without giving it much thought.

This is called the “Internet of Things.”

For example, on the homefront: “Good news, Mrs. Wife! I can control our air conditioning through my iPhone!”

Is it password protected? No? FAIL.

You just created another vulnerability making both you and your data a big target. We, as Americans, regardless of political opinion or party affiliation, must band together to put a massive defensive strategy in place to keep the really bad guys out when 2018 rolls around.

Old voting machines … exposed servers in the cloud … external hard drives with unencrypted data … using free Wi-Fi without passwords … ransomware … threats are everywhere and we must “Handel” this situation with care.

HAHAHA!

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His heroes are Bill Murray and Megan Fox and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: WikiLeaks, Cherry Blossoms and Pandemics

WikiLeaks is at it again.

They are dropping new information (unverified) on the web about the Engineering Development Group.

Who are they? They are the CIA, specifically its elite hacking unit.

Not too cool for national security potentially but good to know if you care about your digital privacy, or if you are an enemy of the state with something to hide.

If you have never checked out the site, it is very interesting.

The part that grabbed me was the tools called Cherry Blossom. This tool allows the agency to monitor internet traffic by hijacking wireless routers; this has been going on for years.

To put it simply, the described the tool takes over the firmware of the router and turn it into a monitoring device. So, not only can you be tracked where you go online, but also (even worse) what you are doing, banking info, passwords, or reroute you to a malicious website and infect or steal from you.

Stay off public Wi-Fi setups for this and many other reasons. Only use secure and password protected networks. Your data is up for grabs as it is, you might as well not make it easy for folks to get at it.

Also, this month WikiStinks published info on another CIA project called Pandemic. Basically, this project deals with infecting a computer with malicious code and then spreading it to take over more and more machines. In high-tech lingo, Pandemic is a tool that runs as kernel shellcode that installs a file system filter driver. The driver is used to replace a file with a payload when a user on the local network accesses the file over SMB.

So, the cyber wars rage on with Russia, China, the US and even those wankers in North Korea on the battlefield. As a nation, we try and stay on the forefront to defend our weapons systems, power grids and everything else, but it’s tough.

As you can see, there are those that wish to expose this clandestine work to the world. It’s also a very gray space with a lot of room for interpretation.

The current administration in D.C. — as well as the last one — were all about the CIA, NSA and keeping the U.S. ahead of the cyber arms race. If we fall behind in this race, we may not know until it’s too late.

In the meantime, tune into Oliver Stone’s interview with Vladimir Putin, that is the face of the enemy, and we must remember it.

Keep your passwords complex, stay off the dark web, have a dedicated credit card for online purchases, use a firewall wall with geo-blocking capabilities (block all IP addresses from punk nations), keep your security software current (and your beer cold) and we will see what happens.

Enjoy your weekend.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, and he can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

P.S.: If the CIA reads this, I am on your side. Don’t tase me, bro. I did say “unverified.” 🙂

Blake Dowling: Apples to Apples

How many of us use Apple products in our day to day business, political and personal lives?

When I switched from a Treo to an iPhone 3GS in 2009, it was a game changer for workplace mobility; a truly wonderful device (which I still have as a paperweight).

I read Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs last year; it was tremendous.

Me and the Woz – my blue button says “Woz Up” HA.

The chapter describing the creation of the 1984 Apple Super Bowl ad and the launch of the iPhone years later were certainly highlights.

Jobs and Steve Wozniak, lighting the world on fire with innovation. The us-against-the-world mentality of the Super Bowl ad, the Apple Board said in ‘84 “do not run this ad.” They did it anyway. It is now considered one of the best commercials of all time.

Ten years ago, the launch of the iPhone was even more epic. Combining functionality in a single device that I use (and could not live without, methinks) every day.

Is Apple still capable of the kind of innovation that took them from irrelevance to dominance? The stock price sure says so, and they are doing some volume at $155.00 a share.

But is there innovation along with volume?

I purchased a new iPad to replace my iPad 2 from six years ago. Years later, it’s still called iPad. Granted it was cool when Led Zepplin, in the middle of their heyday, had a self-titled album. But I was expecting some sort of awesome name from Apple, like maybe “iPad4?”

The features seem the same overall. Granted, I uncover slivers of brilliance as I dive in; while watching the WatchESPN app, I can switch over to email and have a small screen of the app still running in the corner. That’s cool.

On to the annual Apple event; they hosted the Apple World Wide Developers Conference this week. It’s time to compare Apples to Apples, or Apple to Apple actually, and see what those brainiacs are up to for 2017. T

he HomePod is one of the new offerings getting the closing spot, to compete against the Amazon Echo. So, to go along with the earlier theme, it appears Apple is playing catch-up. It’s Siri versus Alexa for real.

Also out is the biggest, baddest iMac Pro – which can be yours starting at $5K. Don’t you love how car salespeople say, “starting at a certain price,” instead of how much it is the way I would want it?

In that case, it would be $7K. Ouch.

Does that come with a toaster? How about a timeshare in Branson? Because nothing says “seven large” for hardware like Elvis impersonators in Missouri. (Although this fella looks more like Andrew Dice Clay than Elvis.)

So, in other news from the Apple event, Amazon Prime is coming to Apple TV.

This does nothing for me until College Football (as a whole) gets in line with a unified streaming service. Until then, I will continue to drink from the Comcast fountain.

Also, a red iPhone is coming out, yay. Just kidding. I don’t care about that either.

New Apple Watch OS? Nope; not interested.

It all comes down to the HomePod. Will this rocket Apple even further into the world of innovation, or will it sit second (or third) behind the products already dominating the market share?

I’m an Apple fan (as mentioned earlier). I love my iPad and iPhone, just not without all the fluff. I simply want to see them being the best-in-class innovators as they once were.

As Mr. Jobs once said: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies; he can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Dark Data, Dark Web, Dark Side?

Basic human dignity – FAIL.

Let’s see … what should I write about today? Pretending to murder the President of the United States? No, that’s been done.

It was ironic as I was posting my Memorial column about togetherness and unity on Twitter the other day and I see all these Tweets about Kathy Griffin. Let’s see what she is up to, hmmm beheading the President. That is exactly what I was talking about in the piece, people behaving so, so badly that it is beyond comprehension. Odd that it wasn’t on the news yesterday.

You hear a lot of the same rhetoric from right wing media outlets like Drudge Report, Fox News, etc. … “If this had been former President the world would be more outraged, there would be war in the streets,” but it’s a left-wing comedian and it’s Donald so maybe they are right (pun intended)? I watched the news (ABC/NBC) last night, no mention of this.

People forget that celebrities, politicians, athletes are actually human beings.

Like him or hate him, the Donald is a person, too. If you can’t respect the man or the woman, try and respect the office. Jeez, Griffin, humanity sinks deeper into the sea of the pathetic thanks to you. Basic human dignity – FAIL.

 Oh well. For today we are back to technology.

Welcome to the Dark Side. We have pancakes.

There is a company called Lattice Data that Apple just scooped up for about 200 million. Lattice specializes in machine learning and transferring “dark data” into usable information.

What the hell is dark data? Is that what the Emperor keeps on his iPad? (Zing)

Dark data is data that is unstructured and uncharacterized. It could be geographical information on customers, financial information, pictures. Think about some growth analysis, we cranked out 4.4 zettabytes of data in 2013. That is going to grow to a projected 40+ zettabytes by 2020.

Experts say 90 percent of the data in existence was produced in the past two years. This info must be stored somewhere – and data centers are not cheap. Cooling data centers are not cheap.

What do we do with all of this data? Enter Lattice, they take the data and using artificial intelligence they “label” it. So, all of this information that is compiled from everything in our internet of things world could be used in medicine, political campaigning, logistics, genetics even human trafficking.

MEMEX is a program which analyzes mountains of data on sex workers via, online ads, job postings, rates, geographic region, and they can take the data and identify trends which may lead them to a human trafficking ring. This is not just data on the traditional internet, this application also dives into the dark web.

The darknet, dark web or deep web are areas of the internet where search engines do not go and where you must have a specialized browser to get there (like Tor). Users are anonymous and not traceable by IP address on the normal web.

So, guess what happens? It’s like Kathy Griffin day every day on the dark web.

Drugs are for sale, weapons, pornography, hitmen, all those things. I wrote a piece about the online drug emporium, Silk Road last for INFLUENCE Magazine if you want to check it out.

Some say the dark web provides an anonymous place for corporate whistleblowing. I call BS on that one. You can write a letter to the NY Post and not sign it if you really must disclose some sinister corporate shenanigans.

Others say if you buy drugs online you take violent crime out of the drug business; pay with bitcoin, it comes to your home, no gun battles in Compton or elsewhere.

That argument is slightly more valid, but it’s still illegal, in Florida at least. For now. For the People.

Dark website to hire a hitman.

There you have it, darkness everywhere coming at you like the platoon of Storm Troopers on the forest moon of Endor. Thanks for reading.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at Dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: This Memorial Day had me looking for unity

I was looking at some pictures of my great uncle on Memorial Day (Captain Alex Hood Dowling), thinking about his sacrifice for our country, as well as those of so many others.

Our family watched the PBS Memorial Day special and heard some wonderful and heartbreaking stories of those that made the ultimate sacrifice. It really made me sad for our nation, as we seem to be more divided than normal.

Protestors on every side of the issue disgracing the flag, famous athletes disrespecting the national anthem; the list goes on and on.

We have the right to act like lunatics because of the commitment, and loyalty of so many.

Captain Dowling (far right) enjoying some high-powered refreshments with my grandfather and other friends. And, no, that is not Hitler doing a shot of whiskey (far left).

I believe 1 percent of our nation serves in the Armed Forces. This is the 1 percent that people need to be talking about, the 1 percent who represent us all.

We in Florida will select a new Governor next year. Who will be the right choice? Putnam? Graham? We heard a lot of talk from John Morgan during Session, but then nothing since he complained about weed bills.

I would encourage all candidates to run on a platform of unity. While we fight internally about nearly everything, parts of the world seek to eradicate our country (and our way of life) from the map.

We experienced ISIS in our state at the Pulse nightclub, and watch as North Korea escalates the situation in that part of the world with more missile tests. President Vladimir Putin, he watches and waits.

It’s looking like a big mess, and most of the news focuses on big messes — as big messes sell.

So, I thought I would highlight some greatness here and around the world so that we remember the power of unification, the power of putting our differences aside and pushing forward together.

In Gainesville, a police officer responded to a noise complaint in a local neighborhood last year. Instead of citing the young persons for any violation of the law, he played ball with them. A week later, he brought NBA legend Shaq to play ball with them. Thanks to the video going viral (17 million Facebook views) they formed a foundation to help children who need it, and open the dialogue with law enforcement and local communities.

We all know what happened in Manchester recently; Ariana Grande is returning for a benefit concert and bringing Coldplay, Katy Perry and crazy Miley Cyrus. They all want to help.

Consider the effort Heineken put toward its latest campaign. It was pretty bold for a beer company — but bold ideas for confronting our problems are what the world is all about. They place 2 people in a room with different viewpoints on a subject (they were not aware they have different viewpoints) and, over a beer, make them discuss the topic at hand.

Man, well played folks, bring people together, have a dialogue. Don’t Mace people in the face at a public event.

Pepsi tried to do the same thing; God bless them for trying, but the attempt imploded spectacularly — like the TV show “Saved by the Bell: The College Years.”

No offense to the original, but I wasted a solid year watching that show, as well as another in the genre called “California Dreams.” Amazingly watchable bad TV.

Perhaps, if we just focus on what unites us, versus what separates us, we can rise up as a society. These are some heavy ideas, but I figured I would do my part and deliver a positive message in hopes that we can remember our countrymen are not our enemy.

Over the past 10 years, I recall seeing pictures several times on social media of people shooting the bird at the White House while Barack Obama was in charge. Now, with Donald occupying the White House, I’ve seen the same.

While they certainly have the right, I wonder what those who died for our country would think about that.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at Dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Ransomware, the Mob catching up with the times

Attending a Florida Public Relations Association professional development session, seeing many of the state’s best PR pros in the room was thrilling.

Nanette Schimpf from Moore Communications Group; my man Rick Oppenheim (from RB Oppenheim Associates) and the main sponsor of the event, the rock-solid team at Sachs Media Group represented by Ryan Cohn and Jon Peck.

The event began with a breakfast that featured the most spectacular bacon, so I was ready for anything – bacon is power, bacon is motivation. (#BaconIsLife)

Speaking was Sandra Fathi, president of the public relations, social media and marketing firm Affect.

She is a Pro, who has been featured all over the news – CNN, Forbes, etc.

Fathi dove into a presentation on hacking, discussing the response should be from a PR perspective. Your client could be an elected official, airline, restaurant etc.

What happens when you are breached?

Fathi discussed the basics of cybercrime at first offering clear definitions of spear phishing, ransomware, DDOS attacks etc. and what they were.

She talked about the WannaCry ransomware from earlier in the month.

Then she lost me.

Fathi said something like, it is OK to pay the ransom from terrorists if infected.

Disagree.

In my opinion, you should never pay the ransom from these criminals. It only encourages them, encourages more people to get involved, (think organized crime in our state).

Hypothetically, the Genovese Crime Family launches a cyberattack using ransomware, they collect 50k in bitcoin and use the money to buy a couple of kilos of cocaine resale.

You get the picture; the domino effect of paying these types of things ravages our communities eventually.

The alternative is to invest in your technology. Dictate strict policies to your team in regard to password management, install antivirus/antispam products, set your firewall to geo-block rogue nations, you know who, the “Stans” (Pakistan or anything with “stan” in it), Russia, China etc.

And if all that fails, have a redundant backup protocol (on-premise and cloud), so that if you are infected, you can make a clean start with a wipe and reload of all things.

Sandra’s message was to individuals in the PR game, and her message about crisis management was on point. But make no mistake about it, paying criminals only encourages them.

Also, Fathi mentioned that criminals generally give you the means to get your data back, after you pay them.

After seeing several local examples where the ransom was paid – and they got nada.

These are criminals, after all. That’s kind of what they do.

Am I right?

The Mob caught up with the times, and it’s no longer like what Tony Soprano said in 2002 about surfing the net: “Log off. That ‘cookies’ s**t makes me nervous.” Classic.

I hope everyone has a fantastic day, and your week is crisis free.

But if one pops up, you can let me know. I’ll point you in the right direction.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at Dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com

Blake Dowling: Who knows what innovation will bring next?

Have you checked out the latest version of the digital personal assistant, Alexa, that is specially designed for Senior Citizens? It’s called Alexa Silver.

It’s super loud and you can only order it by check.

It also has an “uh huh” function that it says when you are telling rambling stories.

Fake news alert, it’s actually from an SNL skit. Awesome to see Lorne Michaels and his team still cranking out gold after all these years, watch it here. (Shoutout to Normie for sharing this with me.)

Speaking of new ideas and innovation, in business and politics, the past decade has been piled with new ways of doing things. How we campaign, work, lobby, organize, motivate, influence all has a digital twist to it.

So many devices; all working together seamlessly, most days.

I now have reached device overload with my tech: Desktop PC (multiple monitors), iPad, 2-in-1 tablet/laptop, and phone. Plus keyboard, speaker, and lots and lots of wires.

The functionality and mobility of all of this makes me extremely productive (on a good day) but, man, I could use some innovation in lowering my device count.

(from left, Denise Bilbow, Mrs. Dowling, some yahoo, and Leon County Commissioner Kristen Dozier)

Speaking of innovation, I had an opportunity this week to judge a regional SharkTank-like competition in North Florida. The competition is called the Innovation Park Tech Grant Program,

Applicants brought amazing ideas to the table regarding weather forecasting, video production, engine management and health care.

The local community really rallied around the event and the everyone got a chance to engage with the innovators before the actual judging began. This specific program has been around since 2005 and they have given out over $400,000 in grants to date benefiting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Leon County.

I first met the Leon County Research & Development Authority when I spoke to one of their events on artificial intelligence.

They read one of my columns on this badass, award-winning political website called, FloridaPolitics.com (perhaps you have heard of it?)

When they mentioned the competition and asked me to judge, I agreed as they said the magic words: “Free beer.”

In all seriousness, though, it was an honor to review these companies (check them out here).

I asked the Director of Programs and Communications about her thoughts on the event; she said: “The Innovation Park TechGrant Program is open to all Leon County residents and offers a change to help local startups and early stage companies transform their ideas and hard work into commercialized products.  Funding is one of the largest battles these companies face and we enjoy helping companies in our community move forward.”

Pretty cool.

Where would we be without the innovators of today and yesterday, no Lobby Tools, no iPad, no Alexa Silver, no cloud, no WatchESPN app on my phone?

The world has certainly changed since I kicked off my career in the rock ‘n’ roll business — back in the Dark Ages of the pre-smartphone world of 1998.

Who knows what this local and global community of innovators will bring us next.

I can’t wait to find out, and hopefully, I won’t need the Alexa Silver any time soon.

Enjoy the weekend.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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