Ah, Halloween, the night when tiny ghosts, ghouls, and princesses walk the streets looking for candy.
But ghosts aren’t the dangers that keep most IT experts up at night. No, there are far scarier things in our tech industry than confronting the undead or warding off vampires.
In this article, we’ll cover the 5 biggest IT fears that hopefully won’t rise from the dead and haunt your home or office this Halloween season.
IT experts beware…
Possessed smart devices from compromised passwords
The connectedness of IoT devices can feel equal-parts exciting and creepy.
In the case of one Milwaukie family, fear became the prevailing feeling when their smart home devices were suddenly hacked. The result was an experience that sounds all-too similar to some of our favorite ghost films.
“They had no problems until they heard a voice talking through a camera in their kitchen,” Fox6 reported.
Then one of the homeowners, Samantha Westmoreland, “returned from work to a blazing hot home. The thermostat had been turned all the way up to 90 degrees. She thought it was a glitch — and set it back to room temperature. She did not realize that was only the beginning of a roller coaster 24 hours.”
“The thermostat continued to go up — and a voice began speaking from a camera in the kitchen — and then playing vulgar music.” Samantha unplugged the device and turned it up to face the ceiling.
In the end, the situation is presumed to have occurred because of “compromised passwords.”
Not all pirates have eye-patches or traverse the seven seas.
Some pirates — the particularly nasty kind, in my opinion — attack small businesses at their digital infrastructure. In essence, hackers take certain data hostage until the business pays a ransom to access their own information.
Data breaches like this happen regularly. But one of the most famous cases took place in 2017 when “the software, called WannaCry, encrypted the files on a victim’s computer and demanded a ransom to get them back,” Vox reported.
Their demands? Bitcoin.
WannaCry quickly wormed its way into hundreds of thousands of Windows PCs in the span of just a few hours. Railway networks, hospitals, and many other businesses were impacted.
While WannaCry hasn’t received much spotlight in the last couple years, TechCrunch says that over 2 million PC computers are still at risk of being hacked.
Email capacity hits zero
When the office can’t use their email anymore, you know the IT team will have to answer for it.
Matt Dunn, an IT Systems Analyst in Fort Myers, Florida, saw this situation occur first hand.
One of Dunn’s colleagues received a call from a local copier company: their scan-to-email service had stopped working.
A maintenance call was scheduled for the following Monday. But by then, the scanner had started working again.
Four weeks later the same copier company called about the same problem. This time, Matt took the appointment, “All the settings were right. [I] rebooted the network and every machine involved — nothing.”
Matt and his colleagues received three more calls about scan-to-email not working. Finally, Matt logged into the company’s GOdaddy account. All the SMTP relays had been used up for the month.
In other words, outbox = full.
The rogue IT expert
If you’ve seen any zombie apocalypse film, then you know what it’s like to have an IT expert suddenly turn rogue against your team.
One moment they’re another friendly face at the office. The next, they start destroying everything in a malicious downward spiral.
Matt Dunn, again, saw this play out in real time.
“We took over a company who ousted the internal IT department. Nasty breakup. We closed every access and had the staff double check the list of employees. Everything checks out.”
“Then one night our network goes out. Server files are missing, things are bad.” As the team started investigating, they learned that someone named Sheldon Cooper — yes, really — had logged in and removed everything.
The staff immediately removed Sheldon Cooper and, in the process, also found an account belonging to a Jim Parsons. They cut off Jim Parsons’ access, as well.
“Later that night we get an emergency call saying the accountant can't access any of her files. After spending an hour researching why, she logs in as Jim Parsons.”
As Matt explained, Sheldon Cooper was a fake account. Jim Parsons was the real account of a former employee by that name.
A former IT employee had tried to login to both accounts to deliver one final blow to the company that had just let her go.
Discovering a problem too late
How many horror movies could have had happier endings if the protagonist had learned that house was haunted just a moment sooner?
In IT, the problems we know about are fine because we can fix them. But the looming, unsuspecting problem that we have no idea about — those are the ones that keep us up at night: the unknown unknowns.
Without the right network monitoring systems, IT experts are running their systems blind — like a scared twenty-something wandering aimlessly through the halls of a haunted house.
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