Blake Dowling: As the cyber war rages, you are not helpless
A bronze statue of Winston Churchill, weighing 1.5 tons and standing ten feet high, is found in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Oscar Nemon sculpted this statue honoring Churchill, the former Second World War Prime Minister of Great Britain, which was unveiled on January 20, 1980.

Winston Churchill Public Art
'Many have fallen to the odious apparatus of hacking, but we shall not flag or fail.'

The cyber war rages on, with some interesting developments from the front lines this week.

A known Russian cyber gang called Clop is believed to be responsible for wreaking havoc around our nation with a significant breach. Several U.S. government agencies (including the Department of Energy) and other organizations (as well as schools) have been impacted.

One large learning institution on the list of alleged victims is one state over at the University of Georgia.

What makes these attacks interesting is that the Russian cyber gang claiming responsibility usually infects an organization with ransomware that freezes their network. Then they ask for payment to unfreeze the network. In these instances, there has been no request for payment. In fact, it is difficult to get a read on what exactly happened besides a data breach; Which sounds like bad news, as a rule, as authorities could still be assessing the damage.

We know it appears to have been a breach with the MOVEit application, which these organizations all use. The hackers exploited a vulnerability to gain access to data. Ironic, because the application is described as a secure file transfer service. A reminder that we could be victims.

As of this writing, Clop is starting to post a list of some of the other compromised parties on their dark website.

What is their endgame? Will they eventually ask for money, and if not paid, will they post the data they have? Probably. These are hackers, after all, they will look to monetize the incident at some point.

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, aka CISA, has published some highly technical information on the breach. For our purposes, a general rule would be that if you do not use the MOVEit application and no one you work with uses it, you are in the clear.

If you use this software, read the info, and report it to CISA or local law enforcement.

I mentioned developments (plural); the second item you need to focus on is voice scams. Artificial intelligence is rearing its head in some unwanted places, and by scouring the internet for samples of people’s voices, they (AI + hackers) can impersonate your relatives or friends. Or worse, they call you, wait for you to say hello, and take a sample of your voice.

Just like with fake texts and emails, hackers use basic communication tools as a threat delivery system, including phone calls.

Both scenarios should give you pause and serve as a gut check on all things cybersecurity. While you might feel you are helpless, you are not.

Start with being incredibly careful with what you share online. Never post your phone number or birthday anywhere, set your privacy settings to private on apps you use, have a robust and unique password for everywhere you go online, and trust — but verify — everything.

Did you get an email from your boss about a wire transfer? Call their cellphone number, not the number in the email or text. Verify it.

How about a call from a voice that sounds like Aunt Edna asking for money? Hang up. Call Edna on her number that you look up separately.

This is not dark web software, either. Microsoft announced software that can impersonate a voice and clearly mentions the possibility of misuse.

Once you incorporate verification into your world, you can rule out a lot of threats, Your IT departments and cyber protections (assuming you have two-factor authentication, firewall and advanced threat protections/endpoint detection and response, etc.) block about 90% of all threats.

It is up to all of us to look out for the remaining 10% that may get through — like an email, text or even a phone call appearing to be from someone you know.

If you want to throw another layer of protection into the mix, share a code word with family members that only you and they know, so in the event your “cousin” is at the airport in England and needs a $1,000 gift card, you can authenticate using that code.

If a code word/safe phrase sounds extreme, it is not; deepfake pix and videos, fake calls, and bogus texts will be on the rise, along with more advanced cyber threats, so better to prepare now.

Until the cyber war is over, keep throwing everything you’ve got into the fight, as this battle needs more leaders. Speaking of leaders, what would Winston Churchill say if he was in this war with us?

“Many have fallen to the odious apparatus of hacking, but we shall not flag or fail. We shall defend our digital island, we will fight them on the computer, we shall fight them on the phones with growing confidence, we shall fight them on social media, and we shall fight them in ChatGPT, and we shall never surrender.”


Blake Dowling is the CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and 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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