SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

The 6 Largest Cyber-Attacks to Date

Whether we know it or not, cyber-attacks are occurring all over the world on a daily basis. In this day and age, it is a necessity for most companies to have an online presence, and this often means being exposed to the ugly world of talented hackers. 

One of the most increasingly common forms of cyber-attacks today is referred to as “ransomware,” which forces businesses to pay hackers a certain amount before they will re-release access to the business’s site. According to ransomware statistics, attacks of this kind rose by 50% in the year 2016, which prompted many companies to immediately update and upgrade their systems to avoid further exploitation. There are various steps to avoid a ransomware attack, but it’s not the only attack that your company should be wary of. 

With so many computer-savvy individuals out there in the world, even young adults have the power to break past firewalls and passwords to retrieve information. It doesn’t matter what they’re dealing with—whether it’s Yahoo or the independently-owned jewelry store down the street—everyone is at risk of cyber-attacks. 

Not only do you need to be diligent with your company computers, but it’s also important that you take into account the other pieces of equipment in the office that rely on wireless capabilities, Bluetooth, and other systems that require accounts and passwords for access. Items such as wireless faxes and printers also hold valuable information in their systems, so, even if employees are simply re-filling the ink jet cartridges, there should be security systems in place. 

The following are 6 of the largest cyber-attacks to date. 

1. MafiaBoy

As was mentioned, a hacker isn’t always going to be an adult with years of experience with computers. In this cyber-attack, a 15-year old male who referred to himself as ‘MafiaBoy’ had the prowess to release a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) on a variety of large corporations, including Amazon, Yahoo, and eBay. 

The damage that he caused with the attack cost close to $1 billion, and he was later apprehended. Since he was a juvenile, he was sentenced to open custody, and, ten years later, he published a book that described the impressive event. 

2. The Melissa Virus 

For some hackers, there is never an intent to harm. Unfortunately, some viruses get away from the creator and end up causing huge problems regardless. In 1999, a man named David Smith created the Melissa virus, which worked to infect documents in Microsoft Word and automatically disguise itself as an attached document via email. 

Once opened, the attachment would mail itself out to the first 50 names in the end-user’s Outlook address book, thereby unknowingly spreading like wildfire. Even though Smith claimed that he never meant for the virus to cause harm, it still ended up costing $80 million in damages, and he went to prison for 20 months. 

3.  The Entire Internet Attacked

In 2002, the Internet fell to its knees at the hands of unknown hackers. The attack had it out for very specific victims, which included every single one of the 13 domain name system’s root servers. It was a DDoS-style attack, which was active for approximately one hour. 

While one hour doesn’t seem like a very long time, it was more so the scale of the hack that had alarms sounding all over the United States. Federal authorities categorized the attack as one of the most complex hacks in history, with almost all servers struggling for almost an entire hour before the hold was released. Had the attack lasted any longer, it’s fair to assume that the entire Internet would have been at a standstill and billions of dollars lost. 

4.  Gonzales Hack 

In 2009, it wasn’t a few large companies that were victimized by a hacker but, instead, over 250 financial institutions and all of their clientele. The hacker was known as ‘Gonzales,’ and he was responsible for hacking and stealing millions of credit card and debit card numbers from all across the United States. 

To do so, Gonzales hacked payment card companies, including the convenience store 7-11, to retain card information. While Gonzales did plead guilty to at least three separate cases, he still managed to pull off one of the biggest fraud cases in U.S. history. 

5.  July 2009 Attacks 

Named after the specific date when the hacks occurred, this well-known cyber-attack affected both South Korea and the United States. The hack took over in three different waves of attacks, and it had the ability to affect more than 10,000 computers in the two countries. 

The targeted end-users included government institutions, including the White House, the Pentagon, and the South Korean National Assembly. It was never revealed who was behind the attacks, and allegations were made against the North Korean telecommunications ministry to no avail. 

6.  Estonia Cyber Attacks 

In 2007, Estonia experienced cyber-attacks at an unprecedented scale that had the power to cripple the Northern European country. The attacks focused on putting large institutions at a standstill, including the Parliament of Estonia, banks, media outlets, and ministries. 

It has been said that the attacks were a response to the relocation of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn and of the war graves in the capital city. While there were many fingers being pointed, at first, there was no concrete evidence to put the blame on anyone in particular. Investments in cyber security were immediately increased, and a Tallinn manual was released that outlined international laws surrounding cyber warfare. 


Companies all over the world are exposed to cyber-attacks on a daily basis, so it’s important to protect yourself and your employees as diligently as possible. Some of the largest cyber-attacks have been created on a whim, so it’s no surprise that many companies are exposed to attacks even by young adults who are new to the game. 

Avoid cyber-attacks by keeping yourself and your employees updated on new hacker tactics, and make sure to always keep your security updated. These types of practices might be time-consuming or costly, but they will always be worth it, to avoid the disaster of cyber-attacks like the ones mentioned.




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Apple replaces Bing with Google as search engine for Siri and Spotlight

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Siri screenshot. (Apple Image)

Apple is ditching Bing and will now use Google to power the default search engine for Siri, Search within iOS (iOS search bar), and Spotlight on Mac.

TechCrunch reported Monday that Apple users will now see search results powered by Google, instead of Bing, when using those tools.

For example, when an iPhone user asks Siri a question that needs a search engine result, the voice assistant will now pull from Google, not Bing.

Apple will still use Bing for image search queries using Siri or Spotlight on Mac, TechCrunch reported. Apple said the move was done for consistency; its Safari browser uses Google as the default search engine.

In a statement, the company told TechCrunch that “we have strong relationships with Google and Microsoft and remain committed to delivering the best user experience possible.”

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Fall Security Survey - Please Participate!

Not on is it back-to-school but it’s Fall with everyone madly back to work. Would you be able to spare a few moments to assist us in assess your security-related attitudes and preferences? Your contribution to this crowded sourced survey helps keep our community alive and thriving!

We are curious
about your emphasis on security as an MSP practice and vendor preferences.

It’s all very simple. Complete the survey HERE.

Security Survey


Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

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Knowledge is Power: Small Business and Five Cyber Security Myths

By: Steven Bearak, CEO of IdentityForce

Building an effective cyber security strategy is critical for all small business owners. When running a lean operation, it’s common for a small business to do more with less. IT resources can be scarce, even for those small to mid-sized Cyber Securitycompanies that are in the high-tech and IT fields. In fact, when 600 IT leaders from small and mid-size businesses were surveyed for a 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity Report, only 14 percent of the companies indicated that they were highly effective at mitigating cyber risks, vulnerabilities, and attacks.

The first step to protect your small business is to really understand perceived myths versus the truth around cyber security protection. So, let’s get started:

Myth #1 - A Strong Password Keeps Everything Secure
Strong passwords are important, but they won’t fully protect you. Consider using a password with two-factor authentication, and make sure that your team never leaves passwords lying around the office or their homes. Instead, encourage them to use a password manager.

Myth #2 – I’m Prepared! I have an Antivirus Program
Many businesses, including small business owners, believe that an antivirus program will keep their data safe and secure. While it helps, there’s a lot more to cyber security than installing a simple piece of software. And, more people than ever before are also using smartphones and tablets on unsecured networks without installing the proper antivirus software on those devices.

Myth #3 - A Good Firewall Will Keep the Bad Guys Out
In the same way that antivirus software won’t fully protect your business from a cybercriminal, firewalls won’t either. Gaps remain even if you are using both firewall and antivirus software. In today’s work environment where Bring your own Device (BYOD) and telecommuting are prevalent, many of the risks come from a lack of communicating and enforcing best practices with your employees. Other solutions such as identity theft protection can further protect your employees’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Myth #4 – Cyber Attacks Don’t Happen to Small Companies
Cyber threats are very real and becoming more prevalent. This can also include ransomware – or malicious software – that threatens to publish the data on your device, or lock down your device, unless a ransom is paid. Your business can be a target 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And, according to a 2017 IT Risk Report by Netwrix, 73 percent of small businesses don’t have a dedicated function to handle information security, therefore making them an appealing and easy target to cyber criminals.

Myth #5 – I Don’t Know Any Cybercriminals, Therefore I’m Safe!
Even if it accidental, many cybercrimes can be traced back to internal events. This can be an unintentional phishing email sent by a vendor or partner, or in the case of ransomware, the attack can happen when your employees visit malicious or compromised websites. Often spam in the form of email attachments forwarded among colleagues can leave your business vulnerable.

Protecting your small or mid-sized business starts with knowledge. Always keep security in mind, research and install security software on your computers and devices, and conduct ongoing training with your employees. And, it’s not a one and done effort; you must refresh your practices every few months or at least twice a year to ensure you are keeping up with the latest cyber threats and attack methods.

Steven Bearak is the CEO of IdentityForce, a company commercialized from nearly four decades of in-depth experience around personal identity and security services and products. IdentityForce is a leading provider of proactive identity, privacy, and credit protection for individuals, businesses, and government agencies. In May 2017, IdentityForce introduced a secure mobile app to help members stay protected anywhere, anytime. For more information, visit


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How to Reduce Your Business Energy Costs

Owning and running a business is an epic feat.

by: Trevor McDonald

As a business owner you have a task at hand every day: producing an agenda of the day’s workload, assigning projects that will be managed by trusted colleagues, sending quick-fire responses to an endless stream of emails, Reduce Energypromoting your next marketing tactic, and frankly, so much more. Consequently, it is almost impossible to remember every single responsibility, which can cause you to occasionally overlook some major details - such as making sure that the business energy costs are not unexpectedly skyrocketing.

When was the last time you thought about your energy business costs? This money enables you to run a business in the first place, thrive in a productive and comfortable space, and operate technology. Hence, it is imperative to prioritize strategizing methods of reducing business costs and creating an energy-efficient environment in your workplace.

Take a step back from the hustle and bustle of your business and make careful note of these pivotal ways to reduce your energy costs.

1. Implement the use of “green” technology

Businesses are rapidly upgrading their old office equipment into greener and environmentally-friendly alternatives. That’s due to two main reasons: one, is that it saves a tremendous amount of energy and recycles it, thus reducing excess energy consumption and saves money; the second is to shrink their business’ carbon footprint on the earth and prevent any additional harm to it.

2. Prevent colleagues from changing the thermostat temperature

Everyone is prone to the discomfort of weather. In an office, it’s easy to get up and change the temperature of the thermostat and get back to work by thriving in a “perfectly” conditioned space. But minutes later, someone else stands up and shifts the number just a smidgen so that the air feels “just right” to them instead - and unfortunately, the cycle continues with another person right afterward. Did you know that adjusting the thermostat uses more energy than simply allowing it to function and change naturally? The solution: lock up the thermostat and limit the number of individuals allowed to set temperatures, or set it on an automatic setting that adjusts to the seasons and weather accordingly.

3. Maximize the use of natural light

Being stuck inside a building with artificial lights all day gets tiring and uncomfortable. If you are in the process of redesigning your building, look to build large windows and diminish the use of light bulbs as much as possible. Studies show that employees who work in a naturally-lit space are shown to be more productive and happy in the workplace. Also, you can expect employees to come to work lively and awake almost every morning since the constant exposure to natural light helps them sleep better at night.

4. Go digital when distributing or sharing information

Filtering through stacks of paper in a drawer of endless files not only wastes time, but is overwhelming and obsolete. Use a cloud system to store data, engage customers and employees with media outlets, and distribute information. By using a cloud system, you are able to hone in all the business plans, goals, and collaborations into one digital space which keeps you consistently organized.

5. Invest in energy-saving appliances

While energy-saving appliances are expensive, investing in them will serve you more benefit than harm with chronic use, such as gradually decreasing your expenses on bills and reducing the business’ impact on the environment.
Energy-saving appliances also perform better than normal appliances, cultivate a “cleaner and greener” atmosphere, and inspire your employees to take their part in saving energy both in the office and at home. The prime appliances to invest in first are computer monitors because they never stop running throughout the workday. Other examples of energy-efficient appliances to consider are printers, microwaves, and refrigerators.

6. Properly seal areas that allow air to escape from the building

In the summer, one of the leading causes of business energy bill spikes is the increased use of air-conditioning. You must check to see that air emitted from the air-conditioner does not escape the building due to an unknown draft. Not to say you should aggressively barricade the building or put it on lockdown when the AC is in use. Rather, you can set aside time to check problem areas that release air, such as windows and the space underneath doors, seal them accordingly, refrain from opening windows all-together when the AC is on, and ensure that the air is circulating in its designated area.

7. Switch out current light bulbs into either CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs

CFL and LED light bulbs are incredibly energy-efficient: they last longer than normal incandescent light bulbs and rarely need to be replaced. Additionally, CFL and LED are easy on the eyes, and not as invasive or hazardous as incandescent light bulbs.

Paying for unwanted finances is always a hassle. Therefore, make sure you are equally prioritizing the use of energy within the workspace alongside the dedication to optimizing productivity within the office and finding new ways to market the brand. Now that you’re equipped with vital ways to keep business energy bills at an all-time low, you can invest more time into expanding your business and propelling it forward to greater heights.

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