Thoughts From My Inbox

March 25th, 2022

Residual Pumpkins, Sonic Identities, and Mega Yachts

It’s been a busy week here at Ashton Solutions! Our engineers have all been very busy working on various projects and supporting our customers, and the sales team has been doing their fair share in terms of preparing proposals.  To that end, we have more proposals outstanding right now than we’ve had at any point over the last two (and maybe three years).  For all that busy-ness, it’s quiet here on Commerce Park.  People seem to like the ability to work from home a few days a week, and they’re taking advantage of that opportunity- especially given the price of gas right now!  Others are out on client sites working on those aforementioned projects.  If you’ve ever wanted to stop by and see our operation, I’d love to have you stop in… even when busy, it’s nice to have a little company in the office!  Let me know and we’ll schedule some time.

 

Something About…

 

Real Estate

Finally!  A real estate posting! For just over a million dollars, you can have your own little slice of heaven within walking distance of a Florida beach.   Well, maybe half a slice…

 

We’re Still Hiring
I posted a link to our open engineering position and we’ve had a few good leads.  If you know of anybody with great customer service skills and who has experience in or aptitude with networking, security, and systems, please send them our way! 

 

Subscription Air Travel

Everything seems to be moving to a subscription model, from phones and music to email and meal ingredients.  We have a handful of clients who receive ‘hardware as a service’, in which they pay a monthly per user fee, and we supply all of their computer and network hardware.  Some people love it, but others would rather own their own devices, whether it be a personal mobile phone or the 24 laptops and a firewall that power their office.

This is the first I’ve heard of subscription airfare, although it sounds as though it’s on the verge of becoming very popular.  I do know that Alaska Airlines is one of the most highly rated carriers in terms of customer service (although that bar has been set pretty low). Maybe they’re on to something!

 

 

Residual Pumpkin

I thought that maybe a catchy title would get you to read this piece documenting what can happen to your business if you misstate how you handle cyber security.  Residual Pumpkin is the name of the company that was just fined $500K by the Federal Trade Commission for not taking proper steps (or misrepresenting the steps they did take) to secure their customer data.  Basically, they stored a ton of personal information from their clients, misrepresented how it was being used, and didn’t bother to employ reasonable data security practices.  This type of action will continue to be taken against companies failing to make their best effort to secure their networks and data.   

Sonic Logos
I’ve never heard of or considered ‘sonic logos’ or ‘sonic identities’ (seems like something a marketer came up with). As I thought about it, though, I recalled that Harley Davidson has trademarked the sound of their bikes.  So maybe the Tostitos (chips and salsa) folks are on to something; they just went through an entire process to come up with their new sonic logo, and it couldn’t be just their chip. Evidently, they feel that the sound of their chip snapping is the same as that of Doritos or any other tortilla chip.What other brands come to mind when you think of a sonic identity?  Best answer wins some Ashton swag.  Just hit the “submit a thought” button below and tell me what you’re thinking!  And what would Ashton’s sonic identity sound like?
Mega Yachts
I spent a year working on the boat insurance product at Progressive, and have always been around boats in one way or another.  As such, it’s been interesting to read about the Russian oligarchs who are having their assets (including their mega yachts) seized and/or impounded.   
Cyber War
I’ve mentioned in the past that cyber liability insurance carriers are adding more exclusions to their policies and making underwriting guidelines more strict.  With the increased likelihood of Russian cyberattacks in conjunction with the war in Ukraine, that brings up the question of war and hostile acts exclusions.  It’s probably a good time to chat with your insurance broker to understand your cyber coverage and its exclusions.  And if you don’t have cyber insurance, you really should consider it.
Cybercrime Stats

The FBI just released its 2021 cybercrime statistics which state that businesses lost $6.9B due to cyber attacks.  Remote workers are a big reason for continued increase in losses, and business email compromise ($2.4B) continues to lead the way in terms of dollars lost.

 

Tech support scams, which are generally aimed at older people (are you reading, mom?) accounted for the largest raw number of reported crimes, but only $347M in losses.  

 

Oddly, the FBI report goes on to state that ransomware accounted for only $49.2M in losses.  I find that one very difficult to believe, however.  Emsisoft (a security solutions provider) reported $1.3B in losses in the US in 2019, while Comparitech claims $21B in losses in 2020 (although that includes losses due to downtime, as well as ransoms).   Either way, $49.2M seems a little low for 2021.  

Milk
I’ve posted in the past about Brewers Retail (aka “The Beer Store”) in Ontario having hit by ransomware hackers…  now it’s Hood Dairy in Boston (which serves all of New England).  While I know I have at least one loyal reader in Beantown (he regularly calls me out for typos), I’m not sure if he drinks milk with his Guinness pints.

This is another example of hackers not necessarily wanting to steal your data, but rather knowing that you’ll be more likely to pay the ransom if you can’t run your business.

White House Warning

Even the White House is warning that you should implement multifactor authentication (MFA) and data encryption on your network and devices, due to the increasing likelihood of Russian cyber attacks.

 

 

 

Well, I’m sure your NCAA brackets have been busted by now, especially with last night’s upset losses for Gonzaga and Arizona.  Now you can focus more of your time on the NCAA men’s hockey tournament (Ohio State’s women’s team won the national championship last weekend, in case you missed it).

 

Have a great weekend,

 

Jim