Blake Dowling: United we stand; divided we fall, cyber-speaking

cyber wars, soldiers on the keyboard
Do you think they checked party affiliation while hacking millions of our most personal records? 

When talking to Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee last week, I mentioned (from a political standpoint) there are not a lot of fights that, as a state, we are in together.

Despite the new Governor having off-the-charts approval ratings, we still have a partisan divide that sinks things some into the mud.

However, the war against hackers cannot be one of them.

Hackers don’t care if you are on the right, left, upside down, or sideways on The Gravitron with your beliefs. Russian, Chinese, North Korean and Iranian-backed hacking groups could care less if you support Nancy P. or Donald T.

You are Americans, that makes you a target. Period.

This week, four members of the Chinese military were charged with the Equifax breach.

Do you think they checked party affiliation while hacking millions of our most personal records?

Perhaps if we remembered how we are viewed collectively as a nation, maybe it would help us work together more effectively and handle our differences like adults — through communication and dialogue — versus refusing to shake hands (you know who) or ripping up speeches (you know who).

Silence … Crickets.

Moving on, in the wake of the series of cyberattacks last year against cities and municipalities people are rising up and sharing best practices right and left (pun alert).

One such group is Cyber Florida, which this week had Attorney General Ashley Moody speak at a cyber awareness workshop in Ocala. The event was in conjunction with the Marion County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller’s Office.

Moody had this to say (from the Cyber Florida website):

“Last year, several cities and at least one Florida school district were held hostage by cybercriminals. These attacks on our cities are expensive and divert the government’s focus away from serving its citizens. These workshops and training will help local leaders across Florida implement procedures to prevent, respond to and recover from cyberattacks.”

Next, Cyber Florida heads Tallahassee, where they will partner with the Florida League of Cities and other groups at City Hall for a similar workshop.

It is this level of commitment and collaboration that is required to protect our state (and the private sector) from the various hacking entities. Ones I mentioned earlier are the just the “Big Game Hunters,” but there are thousands of others out there — not necessarily after national disruption, but are happy to relieve you (as an individual) of the burden of $5,000-$10,000 or more.

You can learn more about Cyber Florida here.

In several of my recent columns, I focused on cybersecurity, because the landscape is showing some full-circle movement.

While phishing and ransomware attacks still top the list, smishing, gas pump credit card skimming, and social media cloning are all back in the headlines — even though they have been around for years.

The social media cloning one is slick; let’s review how this happens so you know it if you see it.

Someone goes to your Facebook page and copies some of your pictures. They then start a new Facebook page in your name and start inviting people.

Once they build your “fake” page, that’s where the scam begins. They might use Messenger to claim they are stranded in a foreign country and need money, or claim to need help with legal and medical bills.

Yes, people fall for this all the time.

There are tons of examples. The good news, there’s an easy fix.

Adjust your privacy settings so only your “friends” can view your info and posts; if you see this type of fraud report it immediately.

I forgot to mention the Saudi’s earlier; they are also hacking everything in sight, including 15 social media accounts for the NFL and several teams this year.

They didn’t ask anything about party affiliation either.

If you have the latest and greatest security tools in place, cyber training and phishing simulations rolled out, cybersecurity insurance ready, the next box you can check is staying on the front lines of the cyberwar.

It doesn’t matter what you do: lobbyist, writer, dentist, elected official, professional bowler, carnie, etc. We are all in it together.

Attending a conference, summit, or workshop like the ones above or any of the many that go on in our state is a good move. Several are listed here.

It is through collaboration and teamwork we will ultimately declare victory in the cyberwar; as Charles Darwin once said: “It is the long history of humankind (and animal-kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

The end.


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

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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