WarKitteh: The Collar That Can Transform a Cat Into A Professional Hacker

For Washington D.C. residents, there’s a dubious threat looming in their backyards putting their personal data at risk. It’s Coco, a Siamese cat wearing a high-tech collar designed for hacking WiFi networks. Have you taken the proper security measures to protect your sensitive information from feline foes like Coco? Actually, this cat isn’t a real danger to anybody. In fact, you’re more at risk of getting fleas from the neighborhood strays than you are of getting hacked by them …or at least that’s what the cats want us to think. In the case of Coco, this wasn’t an act of sabotage (or catotage) from the feline uprising, but rather, it’s an experiment in network security by Gene Bransfield, an experiment Gene humorously calls “WarKitteh.”

The collar worn by Coco was outfitted with firmware, a WiFi card, an SD memory card, and a GPS module. Coco was then allowed to roam the neighborhood and he encountered a variety of different WiFi networks. Upon Coco’s return, Gene was provided with data containing the names and locations of area WiFi networks, along with the networks’ security settings–plus a dead bird.

The threat posed by having poor WiFi security is very real. WarKitteh can obtain important information, like whether a network is using WPA encryption or WEP keys for its security settings. WEP is an older form of WiFi security that an amateur hacker can access, and much to Gene’s surprise, WarKitteh yielded him with the names and locations of several WiFi networks in his neighborhood using the outdated WEP security. Equally surprising was the fact that one-third of the WiFi networks from the WarKitteh used WEP.

While it’s not likely that Coco will be showing up in your backyard, there’s a good chance that a hacker could pull off the same feat. In fact, it’s a common practice for hackers to harvest WiFi network information by simply driving past homes in vehicles equipped with the same data collection technology.

After the data is crunched, hackers can then breach WiFi networks by bypassing WEP security, and then use the IP addresses and for nefarious purposes. In fact, there are several stories where this happens and SWAT teams follow the connection to a hacked household, storm the perimeter, and subdue the residents, only to later discover that the innocent party had their WiFi hacked. This is exactly how the cats plan on turning us against each other.

Having strong WiFi security for your business is important. A hacker that can penetrate your network via WiFi can do a lot of damage. Michell Consulting Group can protect your business by assessing the security of your company’s network, and equipping you with an enterprise-level security solution that not even the cleverest cat can hack. Call us today at 305.592.5433 ext.2601 to cat-proof your company’s network!

Hackers Lay Claim to 4.5 Million Medical Records

If 2014 hasn’t been a legendary year for data breaches yet, it certainly is now. Community Health Systems, a hospital network for over 206 facilities across the United States, has been the target of a data breach resulting in 4.5 million records being compromised by Chinese hackers, including Social Security numbers, birthdays, names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

The extent of the attack has been discovered over the past few months; anyone who received treatment, or was even referred to Community Health Systems by an external physician, is possibly affected by this data breach. All it takes is a simple tie to the network, and your personal information could have been completely compromised. Hackers now have all of the information they need to perform identity fraud, which can lead to several undesirable consequences, such as new bank accounts and credit cards, undesired loans, and ruined credit scores.

Community Health Systems is used throughout 28 states, with most of its presence being found in Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, and Tennessee. The network was targeted by a very sophisticated brand of malware sometime between April and June of 2014. The FBI is also involved, and will do whatever needs to be done to find the criminals. These hackers, located in China, are known to the FBI, and this isn’t the first time they’ve been spotted plotting nefarious cyber-schemes.

Community Health Systems will offer identity theft protection for those affected, but for some, this isn’t enough. This loss of personal information gives victims all they need to sue the company for violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 2006 (HIPAA). This in itself is likely to lead to an incredible loss of revenue for Community Health Systems, all because of supposed “negligence” of the hospital’s network administrators.

According to a research report from the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by Symantec, legal reparations and the number of records lost in a data breach are two of the leading cost factors when determining how much a breach can cost your business. In the United States, each compromised record costs somewhere between $184 and $194 per capita. Multiply that by 4.5 million, and you have a stupidly-huge number that absolutely no business wants to deal with.

In a situation like this, you really have to think about whether your business can afford something like this happening. The answer should always be “no.” What you can afford, however, are Michell Consulting Group’s security solutions dedicated to keeping your data and network safe from prying eyes. This measure is known as a UTM, or Unified Threat Management device, which consists of powerful firewalls, antivirus software, web content filtering, and anti-spam technology.

With such a powerful, comprehensive threat management system in place, you won’t have anything to worry about in the face of an attack. If you want to protect yourself from threats, there is no better choice than Michell Consulting Group. Give us a call at 305.592.5433 ext.2601 today to see what we can do for your business.

MCG Referral Program: Connect & Win

Thank you for being our loyal customer. Michell Consulting Group would love the opportunity to provide our expertise and phenomenal service to your friends and clients. Therefore we are happy to introduce our new referral program: CONNECT & WIN!

If you have any friend you think would benefit from our exceptional ERP or Managed IT services, we welcome you to send them our way!

It’s Easy:

  1. Fill out the form below
  2. We will contact your referral
  3. You will be notified if we find and sign a deal

Referral Rewards:

  • 5 Free Hours of Any Professional Service ($1,125 value)

OR

  • A Night For Two at the Biltmore Hotel, with brunch included

What Businesses are Demanding from Their Outsourced IT Provider

Outsourcing your companies IT is a great way to free up money and take advantage of time-saving remote services. Businesses have different reasons for signing up for the outsourcing service, but many clients have similar expectations of the results they want out of their managed IT service provider.

The expectations of outsourced IT clients were determined in a survey of 312 companies by HfS Research, in conjunction with KPMG, and compiled in a study called “2014 State of Outsourcing.” Here are the top three results that reveal what IT outsourcing customers are looking for:

48% said that it will be important that their outsourcing providers deliver improved analytics to improve operations and access to strategic talent.
Big data is becoming increasingly important to businesses. The Internet of Things revolution is shaping markets by providing organizations with insightful new data. When this new data is fed into analytics tools, business owners are able to back their major decisions with facts and trends. This is a sure way to get a leg up over the competition and improve operations. Michell Consulting Group can equip your business with such tools.

47% said access to new technologies will be important.
This statistic sounds like a given, but it’s actually a different reason than why companies sign up for outsourced IT. Initially, a business signs up with a managed IT service provider for the purpose of improving IT operations, but as that relationship grows, the outsourced IT client will look more and more to their IT provider as an authority on the latest solutions. Conversations will naturally go beyond IT services and move to what it takes to equip their business with the new technology they’ll need to succeed.

33% indicated that improved analytics for revenue growth will be important.
This expectation for analytics is similar to the first statistic, with the difference being a result that goes beyond improved operations, strategic talent, or even new technologies. Flatout, businesses want access to big data for the purpose of growing their bottom line. This is a reasonable expectation and Michell Consulting Group can help equip your business with analytics tools that can assist you in growing your company’s revenue, as well as save your business money with operating expenses.

After looking at the results of this survey, the president of HfS Research made this conclusion to CIO.com:

The focus on digital outcomes has dramatically emerged, with many clients increasingly no longer viewing tactical success as their end game. The onus is on clients to move the conversation to one of better analytical capability, more savvy and creative support talent, and access to better tools. These are the new stakes.

At Michell Consulting Group, we’re way ahead of these these three expectations. We have always viewed ourselves as much more than a managed IT service provider that’s limited by the confines of a service contract. We view ourselves as a trusted IT partner that exists to find your business the solutions needed to succeed. Outsourced IT services are just one of the ways we do this, but by far, it’s not the only way.

At Michell Consulting Group, we provide service that goes above and beyond your company’s IT needs, we also provide in-depth IT consulting that will help your business discover new and moneymaking solutions. Call us today at 305.592.5433 ext. 2601 to experience outsourced IT and much more!

Smartphone Demographics – Shaken, not Stirred, with a Lemon Twist

The battle between iOS and Android operating system enthusiasts has been a long and bloody affair with plenty of third-party casualties (sorry Blackberry), but did you know that you might be able to tell a lot about someone just by looking at their smartphone?

There has been a study which proves that there are several differences between users of iOS and Android operating systems. It should be mentioned, though, that you should take these statements with a grain of salt. The fact that you use an Android phone doesn’t necessarily mean you fall into the following description. Read on and see for yourself just what kind of mobile device user you are:

Android Users: More Likely To…

  • Eat at McDonald’s.
  • Use public transportation.
  • Be religious.
  • Prefer beer over wine.
  • Use tobacco products.
  • Work a blue-collar job.

iOS Users: More Likely To…

  • Have flown in an airplane within the past year.
  • Have investments in the stock market.
  • Prefer wine over beer.
  • Work a white-collar job.

Before you start filling these stereotypes in with people you know, consider whether or not you fit these generalities. Or maybe you’re an Android user who has carefully planned out all of your expenses for the next five years. Either way, there are other smartphones that haven’t been taken into account for this list, like the Windows Phone.

What does stereotyping smartphone users have to do with business, though? These statistics show us a piece of the big picture, and we can learn a bit about marketing to the general populace from them. For example, the owner of a brewery might find it in their best interest to market their brand through the Android platform, while a financial planner might find the iOS app store a better market for their needs.

Just in case you haven’t noticed yet, there is a huge market toward the mobile platform in modern-day business management. According to the latest smartphone user statistics, you no longer have an option about whether or not you should market to the mobile industry. The only smart move you can make is to invest in some quality mobile marketing.

  • 60% of all American adults own smartphones.
  • Mobile Internet browsing is at an all-time high, and is expected to overtake desktop browsing this year.
  • 72% of small business owners plan to maintain or increase their mobile ad expenditure this year by up to 30%.

As evidenced by the industry itself, mobile marketing is a very effective way to spread the word about your company and your services.

Do you fit these smartphones stereotypes, or is this study way off? Sound off in the comments!