Joe Milliken, Sales Manager

 I Remember My First Time… (My First Malware Experience)

With the recent increase in ransomware attacks, I can’t help but to think back to my first experience with malware, about 15 years ago, with the lovely and talented Anna Kournikova*. I’m a pretty big tennis fan and I had just the opportunity to witness her talents at a local tournament a few months prior.

At the time I was working my first job out of school as a Cisco reseller, and I remember getting the email, thinking “this just doesn’t seem right.” One of my colleagues wasn’t as cautious and opened the attachment – big mistake!  (Keep in mind that this was before acceptable usage and spam filters policies had hit the scene. Every morning our inbox was like navigating through the wild-wild-west.) I’ll never forget how upset the IT staff was and how much of a fuss the malware had caused.  Management in our satellite office wasn’t happy. But for the most part, despite the commotion and the embarrassment for those involved – no real harm, no real foul.

From that day on I exercised extreme caution on my pc. Rule number one – look before you click. Two, anything you wouldn’t do on your home pc or laptop don’t do at work. It’s one of the reasons to this day I’ve never clicked on a banner ad. Some may call me paranoid but, I saw firsthand how much aggravation it caused and it left a lasting impression – better safe than sorry.

Nowadays the stakes are higher and its remarkable what security professionals are asked to accomplish if you really think about it.  Shortage, of experienced cyber security professionals, dwindling resources, increasing sophistication and bad actors on the other side, and the potential for real damage and serious impact to enterprise organizations is much greater. Despite the fragmented security market there are a number of effective products and services out there and organizations are implementing solid processes and best practices to create secure environments. At the end of the day though, people make mistakes and one small one can have unprecedented and lasting implications.

That’s why I love my job. As territory manager in New Jersey, I love meeting InfoSec pros and learning about all the challenges. My job is to learn about their business and help them prioritize their vulnerabilities. But most important, it’s to connect them to our top flight experts – experience matters and they’ve been there since the beginning on the front lines, stopping malware like Anna Kournikova and other advanced threats in real world situations for over 20 years. Our team helps them cut through all the noise and fine tune their chaos.

At the end of the day, even if you have the most secure computing environment, the human element will always exist. The key is to partner with those who provide solutions that minimize the impact of our mistakes and keep your employees aware that the they are the big target of some very clever social engineering and to always think first before they click.

* The Anna Kournikova VBS.SST computer virus, informally known as “Anna,” is a viral worm that uses Visual Basic to infect Windows systems when a user unwittingly opens an e-mail note with an attachment that appears to be a graphic image of Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova.