Blake Dowling: Just turn it off — be the human firewall for internet scams
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What is left to do? Google has the answer. Turn it off; turn the internet off.

This Summer, HCA Healthcare was breached; 11 million patients were potentially impacted.

HCA is all over Florida, including HCA Healthcare, Capital Hospital in Tallahassee. I heard their IT team is deep, with state-of-the-art cyber protections.

Typically, I reach out and get their input if I write about them. Instead, I will leave them to clean up this incident.

WCTV and I talk HCA this Summer.

What they (and everyone) need is answers. What about everyone else if a massive company that does all the right things with cyber protection can be impacted? First, the health care industry is top of the list for hackers. If you are in health care, you have a target on your back. Cybercriminals are gunning for you and your data, as well as schools, cities, and other data-rich organizations.

We spoke with WCTV about this early this month.

If, like HCA, you have checked all the boxes to protect yourself. Including rolling out two-factor authentication, encryption, firewalls, robust passwords, endpoint detection, advanced threat protection, email attack simulations, and cyber training. What is left to do?

Google has the answer. Turn it off; turn the internet off.

Guess what? That works.

Hackers have turned the internet and all of our communication tools into a threat delivery system, and you can 100% stop it all if you turn off the internet. Shady websites with malware, emails with ransomware, texts with gift card schemes, wire fraud, all of it stops if you are not online.

While this might not be feasible for you or me, they are doing it.

This month the company launched a pilot program where certain employees work in an internet-free zone. Health care, Google and other tech giants like Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple are all data-rich targets.

Literally, they know more about us than we do. But that’s a topic for another day.

Thousands of Google team members will try this no-web approach to reduce cyberattacks. Speaking of Microsoft, they were flogged this Summer by a Chinese government intelligence group called Storm-0508. Reports say that the information obtained was in email accounts and nonclassified, but details are hush-hush now. The bottom line is that they got hit, and Google wants to avoid being on that list and becoming the next headline.

The way their internet blockade works is because they allow their staff to use Google services. They can use internal Gmail and Google Drive file storage and work only in those areas in a Gubble — a Google Bubble.

I made up that word; they can use it if they want.

Google is at the top of the pack in the artificial intelligence race, and everything they are working on is high value. Taking this rather drastic step will cause their team some workflow issues, but it will, in theory, stop all outside threats from hackers.

Kudos to Google for doing the most obvious internet threat blocker — turning it off. I once had a colleague who would get worked up about cyber issues; his advice to clients was, “If you don’t want a problem, just turn off the internet.”

He was not wrong, but his bedside manner and delivery were unpolished. That said, there are no silver bullets to stop hacking; we must be the human firewall and constantly look for threats.

If something looks “phishy,” it probably is. Don’t click. Don’t wire money. Don’t buy gift cards. Don’t share your credentials/passwords. Stop and ask for help.

While cyber tools, when deployed in a proper bundle, can thwart about 90% of attacks. However, we must stop and question every email, call, and text to ensure the ones that get through do not shut down the business.

Or you can turn off the internet; the choice is yours.

Be safe out there and thank you to my friend Ben Graybar for your tech expertise and friendship.

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies in Tallahassee. 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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