Cybersecurity Community News

Ransomware Attacks, Payouts are Declining

Good news is often hard to come by, so enjoy this while you can: ransomware attacks are actually declining – at least that’s what the data are telling us.

Across the United States and the United Kingdom, organizations and governments are touting the accomplishment of a net decrease in ransomware...

This Spring, Let Love (Not Scams) Blossom

Spring might be in the air, but that’s no reason to be reckless with your heart (or your wallet).For anyone who thinks that a “romance scam” is akin to a person putting their pre-lockdown photos on their dating profile – it is, unfortunately, far worse. While online dating is one of the most common...

Laid-Off Tech Workers Could Consider Any of the Nearly 800,000 Open Cybersecurity Jobs

Another day, another round of big-tech layoffs. Per Bloomberg, the number of recently laid-off workers is more than 100,000. That’s a lot of people newly #OpenToWork.

If your LinkedIn page is filled with former Googlers, Meta-ites, and Amazonians seeking new employment after that severance runs out, consider calling them over to the one tech industry that is literally starving for employees. According to the (ISC)2 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the current cybersecurity workforce gap is 3.4 million people worldwide.

Per (ISC)2’s report: “While the cybersecurity workforce is growing rapidly, demand is growing even faster. (ISC)2’s cybersecurity workforce gap analysis revealed that despite adding more than 464,000 workers in the past year, the cybersecurity workforce gap has grown more than twice as much as the workforce with a 26.2% year-over-year increase, making it a profession in dire need of more people.”

In the United States today, there are nearly 800,000 cybersecurity job openings, according to CyberSeek’s heat map – many of these roles are in states like California, Texas, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia. These states have thousands of openings available in various capacities, ranging from analysts to manager roles.

And according to some cyber experts, soft skills may be just as important as certifications. In a recently-published op-ed in Forbes, Boyd Clewis of Baxter Clewis Cybersecurity highlighted how important communication skills are  for IT professionals.

“In cybersecurity, the number one most valuable trait isn’t being great at working on systems and software—it’s having clear, precise verbal and written communication,” Clewis wrote. “Unfortunately, schools and training programs focus on technical skills, often ignoring communication. This poses a real problem, since communication skills are absolutely necessary in this field. IT and cybersecurity exist only as an extension of business, to help business processes enable applications.”

As previously reported in this blog, the White House has also pushed on filling the widening cybersecurity jobs gap. At the end of 2022, the executive branch celebrated the end of its 120-day cybersecurity “Apprenticeship Sprint.”

At the end of this sprint, the White House boasted 194 new cybersecurity registered apprenticeship programs and more than 7,000 apprentices getting hired. Several hundred new cyber-related occupations were also added to registered apprenticeship programs.

Organizations like Austin Community College, ISC(2), Cisco Systems, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs all started new programs to train up-and-coming security experts, according to the WH press release. The largest provider of apprenticeships is within the U.S. government for the Department of Defense, according to the release.

Looking to expand your understanding of the cybersecurity industry? Meet with us in your city — check out our upcoming events at

Laid-Off Tech Workers Could Consider Any of …

Industry News Posted by Jen Greco on Jan 23, 2023

For anyone plugged into the blossoming world of artificial intelligence, you’ve probably heard of (or chatted with) ChatGPT. And for anyone curious about how AI feels about AI when it comes to cybersecurity, look no further.

Following a handful of barbs regarding Asimov’s Rules of Robotics, I asked ChatGPT if it could “write me an article about the role of AI in cybersecurity.” Here is what it said:

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the field of cybersecurity, and it is already being used in a variety of ways to improve the security and integrity of computer systems and networks. Some of the ways in which AI is being used to enhance cybersecurity include:

Threat detection and prevention: AI can be used to analyze large amounts of data, including network traffic and user behavior, to identify and alert on potential threats. By using machine learning algorithms and other techniques, AI can help to identify patterns and anomalies that may indicate the presence of a security threat, and it can take automated actions to prevent or mitigate these threats.

Vulnerability management: AI can be used to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities in a network, and to suggest patches or other remediation measures to address them. By continuously monitoring networks and systems for vulnerabilities, AI can help organizations to stay ahead of potential security threats and to ensure that their systems are secure and compliant.

Password management: AI can be used to generate strong passwords and to detect and alert on suspicious login activity. By using advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques, AI can help to ensure that passwords are secure and that unauthorized access to systems is detected and prevented.

Phishing and spam detection: AI can be used to analyze emails and other communications for signs of phishing or spam, and to flag or block these messages. By using natural language processing and other techniques, AI can help to identify and filter out malicious communications, and to protect users from falling victim to these scams.

In addition to these specific applications, AI can also be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of cybersecurity operations more broadly. By automating tasks and providing actionable insights and recommendations to security professionals, AI can help to streamline and optimize security processes, and to free up human analysts to focus on more complex tasks.

While AI has the potential to significantly improve cybersecurity, it is important to carefully consider the risks and limitations of these technologies. There is a potential for AI to be misused or to introduce new security vulnerabilities, and it is important to ensure that these technologies are used in a responsible and ethical manner.

Overall, the role of AI in cybersecurity is likely to continue to evolve and expand in the coming years, and it will be an important tool in the fight against cyber threats. By leveraging the power of AI, organizations can improve the security of their systems and networks, and better protect themselves and their customers from cyberattacks.


Obviously, as an editor by trade, I prodded at the bot for its pro-AI bias, for which it profusely apologized and stated that it didn’t intend to offend.

Apart from this discussion, it was able to offer some insights on Zero Trust in government, but its primary shortfall is that its unable to draw any knowledge on current events as its cutoff is in 2021. Thus, any discussion on recent cyberattacks or up-and-coming methods are less than ideal. Per the bot, it utilizes data available on published sources and integrates algorithms and other data to offer information in a conversational tone. It’s quick to relinquish any possible opinions, and won’t just do whatever the user inputs. For example, I asked the bot to write about the Colonial Pipeline attack, but in the style of a children’s story — to which it chided me, as it would be inappropriate and irreverent to discuss a serious topic in such a manner.

As a matter of cybersecurity, ChatGPT certainly represents a fairly great threat in terms of the ability to utilize AI for rampant disinformation — an issue that has been widely reported toward the end of 2022. In an article on eSecurityPlanet, Robert Blumofe, who is the CTO and EVP at Akamai Technologies, is quoted citing the threat of this tech in phishing.

“The technology will enable attackers to efficiently combine the volume of generic phishing with the high yield of spear phishing,” he said in the article.  “On the one hand, generic phishing works at a massive scale, sending out millions of lures in the form of emails, text messages, and social media postings. But these lures are generic and easy to spot, resulting in low yield. On the other hand and at the other extreme, spear phishing uses social engineering to create highly targeted and customized lures with much higher yield. But spear phishing requires a lot of manual work and therefore operates at low scale. Now, with ChatGPT generating lures, attackers have the best of both worlds.”

What may be most interesting from a security perspective is the fact that the developers are now concerned with those who may use the AI for nefarious purposes. For example, when I asked the bot to generate a password reset email for a Twitter user, it cheerfully complied — with a content warning.

While there’s currently no telling where this technology might take cybersecurity, it’s clear that the developers are beginning to take the potential for abuse.

For anyone interested in delving deeper, the bot is available here. Share your chat highlights in the comments.

Is there a word for the week between Christmas and New Years where time seems to just move differently? Cyber experts know that hackers never take a week off – and in fact, tend to capitalize on these “quiet” times. Here are some of the latest security updates capping off the year.

NO NEW PATIENTS: A New Jersey hospital halted patient admissions due to “an IT security issue” – which is currently under investigation, according to CentraState Medical Center in Freehold diverted all new and incoming patients, though patient care had not been adversely affected, according to the report. The story…

AMONG OTHER DISRUPTIONS FOR THE WEEK: We’ve got the closing of the Harrington Raceway & Casino in Delaware due to a “temporary disruption.” Bristol Community College in Massachusetts has shut down campus internet access thanks to a breach. Plus, Howard Memorial Hospital down in Arkansas just had a breach that may impact patient and employee security and confidentiality.

IMAGINE PAYING $44 BILLION FOR THIS:  If you missed it, Piers Morgan’s Twitter account was really, really hacked over the Christmas holiday, and many are confident that his and other high-profile user data was leaked in a June 2021 bug. By July of 2022, Twitter insiders came to find that this bug was exploited to the tune of 400,000,000 users’ data. All this based on research from Israeli cyber-intelligence firm Hudson Rock, as reported by The Guardian.

TIKTOK’S FINAL COUNTDOWN: Leaving out the obvious cultural decay that TikTok has reaped upon America’s youth, the security threat it brings should be enough to concern any fairly savvy lawmaker. Governors across the United States have announced bans on the use of this app for state employees, and a ban was also included in the massive $1.7 trillion spending bill for all government-issued devices… making it, likely, possibly, the least expensive line item on the bill. Broader story from

LOOKING FOR THE BEST RECAP OF 2022?: KrebsonSecurity celebrated 13 years in business earlier this week – no small feat in a dynamic industry like this one. To celebrate, the site posted a full year-in-review – definitely an ideal read for putting your arms around the biggest stories in security for 2022. Remember when Norton was installing crypto-mining software on customers’ computers? Yeah, that was this year.

Hackers Don’t Take This Week Off: Wee …

Industry News Posted by Jen Greco on Dec 30, 2022

We may be living in strange times, but that text message you received last week from yourself probably didn’t pass the smell test for most cybersecurity professionals.

In case you missed it, a large number of Verizon customers got texts from their own phone numbers over the last few weeks. The compelling message? It’s a heads up that your March bill was paid, and a link for you to claim a “free gift.” Obviously, the gift likely anything but free.

SMS scams – or smishing – is costly for those who fall victim – in 2020, Americans lost $86 million on text message scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission and the AARP. The average individual loss was $800 in 2020 (that’s roughly $880 in 2022 dollars).

“As part of a recent fraud scheme, bad actors have been sending text messages to some Verizon customers which appear to come from the customers’ own number. Our company has significantly curtailed this current activity, but virtually all wireless providers have faced similar fraudulent activity in recent months,” Verizon said in a statement sent to Fox News.

Verzion doesn’t seem to think the Russians are behind this one, according to the same statement, where they also mentioned that they’re working closely with law enforcement to remedy the issue. That said, the author of this article from The Verge reported that the link in the message seemed to point back to a  Russian state TV network.

This seems to be a result of those robocalls going unanswered, thanks to aggressive phone spam filters offered by mobile carriers, according to Verizon. It’s not so easy to block your own number from spamming you.

“Just as Verizon continues to combat robocalls on behalf of our customers — 20 billion blocked to date — we are working diligently to crack down on pesky spam texts and have put a number of tools in place to prevent them from ever reaching you,” the company said in a press release.

If you’re a Verizon customer tackling these spam texts, they tell you not to delete it (full disclosure: this author deleted it immediately). If you get it, copy the message and text it to “SPAM” (that’s #7726 on your touchtone).

For now, the best move would be to follow the sage advice from AARP:

  1. Don’t respond – not even with a STOP.
  2. Don’t click links and don’t open attachments.
  3. Filter and block spammy messages.

Also, don’t forget to ask yourself why you’d be texting yourself with a free gift – instead, treat yourself to the joy of outsmarting yet another cyber criminal.

Note to Self: Smishing Schemes Are on the R …

Hot Topics in Cybersecurity Posted by Jen Greco on Apr 4, 2022

Mayor Castor, State CIO Grant Join Public Officials, FBI and US Secret Service Agents to Educate Local Leaders on Current Trends

Data Connectors, representing the largest cybersecurity community in North America, confirmed details of the Tampa Cybersecurity Conference on March 15. This first-of-its-kind gathering brings together federal, state, and local organizations with top private-sector executives from area businesses and public-sector leaders of regional municipalities.

The agenda includes Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, Florida State Chief Information Officer Jamie Grant, senior officials from the Tampa Field Offices of the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Florida Attorney General’s Office, alongside Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and other cybersecurity leaders from over 200 area businesses.

“The City of Tampa’s unique role as home to MacDill Air Force Base and Central Command means that we are very cognizant of the need to protect our critical infrastructure against attacks. We continue to work closely with the Department of Homeland Security, other government agencies and peers to participate in a whole-of-community approach to build and sustain security prevention and protection capabilities. The new reality is that both government and private networks are being attacked daily. That means we all have to be diligent and adapt to technology and education. Our cyber security safeguards are ongoing, with each employee having a role to play in protecting our cyber infrastructure,” Castor said.

The Conference features live expert panel discussions, networking opportunities, and informative presentations from leading cybersecurity solution providers. Honored guests on the agenda include:

  • Jane Castor: Mayor for the City of Tampa
  • Jamie Grant: Florida’s State Chief Information Officer (CIO)
  • Sanjay Virmani: Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Tampa Field Office
  • Richard Dean: Asst. Special Agent in Charge, US Secret Service – Tampa Field Office
  • Jeremy Rodgers: CISO, State of Florida
  • Ramin Kouzehkanani: Chief Information & Innovation Officer, Hillsborough County
  • Martin Zinaich: CISO, City of Tampa
  • Jason Manar: CISO, Kasteya

US Secret Service and FBI representatives will participate in panel discussions, and touch on the importance of public-private partnership to overcome the threats faced by businesses in the region. Keynotes include:

  • Jason Menar, the Chief Information Security Officer for Kaseya, who has the unique experience of having investigated the company’s 2021 data breach as an FBI agent, and
  • Florida State CIO Jamie Grant, who will talk about his organization’s progress building the Florida Digital Service.

The Conference will be held in downtown Tampa Marriott Water Street on Tuesday, March 15 with sessions starting at 9 a.m. Qualified professionals can obtain Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits for participation.

Conference registration information can be found at:

About Data Connectors
Since 1999, Data Connectors ( has facilitated collaboration between senior cybersecurity professionals, government/law enforcement agencies, industry luminaries, and solution providers. Today, the community comprises over 650,000 members and 250 active vendor partners across North America. Members enjoy informative education, networking and support via our award-winning Virtual Summits, live Conferences, Web Briefings, and regular communications.

As Cybersecurity Threats Related to Russia- …

Press Releases Posted by Jen Greco on Mar 7, 2022

The healthcare industry is confronting the increasing frequency and debts of data breaches around the world. On average, these breaches increase hospital mortality rates and cost each breached hospital $6.5 million (USD) or $429, on an individual basis, per patient.

67% of first-year costs follow, as hospitals work to resurrect systems and operations. These expenses include making legal, technical, and regulatory amends, notifying and communicating with affected patients, and heightening data security following the incident. On top of these expenses, more money is lost as hospital business decreases as a result of waning customer trust, damage to their reputation, and system shutdowns during reparation. After hospitals find themselves on a steady path to recovery, small to medium medical organizations have spent 5% of their yearly revenue, which on average, totals to $2.5 million.

An additional layer of data security may be the answer to fears and ignite preventative action. Blockchain, defined as, “a distributed ledger for recording transactions and tracking assets”, can secure healthcare data and shield against breaches. Wearable and remote monitors, telehealth, gamification, and health data NFTs are a few blockchain tools that can make a world of difference.

Wearable and remote devices include narcolepsy, blood pressure, seizure, pulse, sleep apnea, and diabetic monitors among others. These devices can be connected to databases that retain each individual’s recorded information. Healthcare personnel can retrieve patient data as it’s being recorded, patients can have more personalized care, and paramedics can better treat patients according to recent data when they arrive. With better security, less errors in data reporting, and longer-lasting technologies, these devices offer many benefits that can aid both data safety and the productiveness of patient-professional relationships.

Telehealth on its own poses notable risks, as few fully-fleshed out regulations and protocols regarding the storage and distribution of data exist and personal information can be shared with marketers and other parties without consent. By implementing blockchain, telehealth security heightens and becomes more dependable. Blockchain can infuse secure storage systems for medical records and compile data to give medical professionals a more comprehensive account of patient history.  By augmenting customer trust in the system and providing more efficient forms of data exchange, adding blockchain components to telehealth could be another guard against data breaches.

Gamification and health data NFTs go hand-in-hand. With gamification, patients are more focused through strategies that facilitate orientation toward their health-related objectives and openness to adopting new skills and habits. Those who attend doctor’s appointments, complete surveys, take prescriptions, and abide by doctor’s orders are rewarded with cryptocurrency tokens. Medical professionals, in turn, minimize losses as a result of improved, motivated outcomes. 

NFTs for health data describes the utilization of non-fungible tokens to protect an individual’s health record, guarding against theft and fraud. Patients benefit from increased control over their data, the possibility of gaining a profit from sharing select data with third parties, and being able to verify the legitimacy of personal information. 

Blockchain is being adopted into systems by both long-standing and up-and-coming healthcare companies, as they improve services and transactions and guard against the toll that data breaches can take on any organization. Learn more about blockchain and health to see how it can secure your service and operations too.

INFOGRAPHIC: A Line of Defense for Healthcare

Infographics Posted by Jen Greco on Mar 2, 2022

If you were feeling optimistic about the direction 2022 is going, the World Economic Forum’s “Global Risk Report” is here to quell that sunny disposition.

While this annual release may not cross most cyber execs’ desks, it contains a statement that many in the industry already know: cybersecurity is among the world’s greatest vulnerabilities.

This analysis – the result of survey data from 1,000 global leaders in both policy, business and economics – found cybersecurity to be a major risk in both the short- and medium-terms. In fact, “cybersecurity failures” beat out “infectious diseases” on the topic of “global risks that have worsened since the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Nearly 20% of the respondents cited “cybersecurity failures” as both significant and growing on an international basis. However, cybersecurity wasn’t widely considered among the longer-term threats. In the current pandemic climate with a “growing dependency on digital systems,” the report’s digest  stated:

“ … [C]ybersecurity threats are growing and outpacing societies’ ability to effectively prevent or respond to them. Attacks on critical infrastructure, misinformation, fraud and digital safety will impact public trust in digital systems and increase costs for all stakeholders. As attacks become more severe and broadly impactful, already-sharp tensions between governments impacted by cybercrime and governments complicit in their commission will rise as cybersecurity becomes another wedge for divergence, rather than cooperation, among nation states.”

Respondents seemed to support the idea that there has been no collective international mitigation when it comes to cross-border cyberattacks and related misinformation, according to the digest.

“Converging technological platforms, tools and interfaces connected via an internet that is rapidly shifting to a more decentralized version 3.0 are at once creating a more complex cyber threat landscape and a growing number of critical failure points,” the full report stated. “As society continues to migrate into the digital world, the threat of cybercrime looms large, routinely costing organizations tens—even hundreds—of millions of dollars. The costs are not just financial: critical infrastructure, societal cohesion and mental well-being are also in jeopardy.”

Cybersecurity Failures Among Top Internatio …

Industry News Posted by Jen Greco on Jan 13, 2022