The small city of Riviera Beach, Florida, north of West Palm Beach is the latest government to be crippled by a ransomware attack. Their data was encrypted by hackers so they couldn’t access it. This has paralyzed the city’s computer systems.

In an attempt to retrieve their data, the City paid the hackers nearly $600,000 (65 Bitcoin). Hackers demand Bitcoin because it’s a hard-to-trace digital currency. The City Council hopes to regain access to their encrypted data, although there’s no guarantee that this will happen.  

Rose Anne Brown, a city spokeswoman for the 35,000 person city, said that Riviera Beach was working with law enforcement and security consultants. In the meantime, unless they had a secure cloud-based backup solution all they can do is wait to see if their data will be released.

What Is Ransomware?

When ransomware infects your computer or mobile device, your organization’s operations can come to a grinding halt. You’ll be denied access to your computer and may even lose your data. Ransomware attacks have cost U.S. businesses millions of dollars in losses.  

Ransomware attacks are on the rise. Attacks on business targets have seen a substantial increase in the first quarter of 2019, up by 195% since the last quarter of 2018. And for governments and organizations that are victimized, the consequences can be paralyzing and destructive.

Marcel Manning, CEO of NexgenTec, a computer services company in Leesburg, FL shared a number of fast facts to protect Florida businesses from ransomware threats.

Fast Facts:

  • Ransomware is the most malicious and frequently used form of malware today.  
  • There’s more than one type of ransomware.
  • It’s important to know what to do if you experience a ransomware attack.
  • The best way to protect your organization from ransomware is to prevent it from landing on your computers in the first place.  
  • Always back up your data so your IT professional can restore it in the event of an attack.

Ransomware blocks access to your data and demand payment through an anonymous system like Bitcoin to restore access. The criminals who distribute and operate these attacks are making millions of dollars. They extort money from you in exchange for a promise to unlock your computer. But this doesn’t always happen. The FBI doesn’t support paying a ransom in response to a ransomware attack.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Organization From Ransomware?

James Ritter, from Pulse Technology Solutions in the Fort Myers area shares, “the best way to protect your organization from ransomware is to prevent it from landing on your computers in the first place. If you experienced a ransomware attack, this means that it got through all your anti-virus software and security on your machine(s).”

Unfortunately, because ransomware performs multi-layered attacks, there’s no one security feature today that can protect against every threat. However, your IT professional can provide advice on the most current and effective protection.

The best security software is made up of layers that protect specific areas, and where each layer communicates with another for the best protection possible. The first layer of protection is for your email where spam typically enters.

Securing your email with the right program allows you to scan every email for malicious files before you or other users open them. Your IT professional can also offer a compatible sandboxing program so you can open attachments in a secure environment where they can be analyzed for ransomware.   

Always backup your data so your IT professional can restore it in the event of an attack.

To protect yourself and your business from ransomware attacks, you must perform secure backups. This requires backups that occur in real-time, daily and weekly. These backups must be isolated from your network to ensure they can’t be compromised by a ransomware attack.

It’s best to have a secure cloud backup so you can always access and recover your data from wherever you have an internet connection.

Your IT professional will need these backup files to restore your data. In most cases, they can erase the hard drive, reinstall the operating system and restore your machine with the backup copy.  

Don’t forget to educate your staff about the threats and prevention of ransomware attacks. Ask your IT service company if they can train your personnel with simulation tools to help them recognize malicious IT threats of any kind. By doing this, you’ll reduce the odds of falling victim to a ransomware attack.

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How NEOFECT Created a Smart Glove (Robotic Arm) That Uses Online Gaming for Rehabilitation

Wearable technology keeps evolving. And it is transforming the way we experience the world. Watches, eyeglasses, rings, bracelets and even smart home devices like the thermostat are changing how we consumer information, monitor our health and use home products. Smart technology has a significant role to play in how people will live in the future.

NEOFECT wants to change how to aid rehabilitation and the provision of clinicial real-time patient data. In an interview with  Scott Kim, Neofect’s co-founder and CEO of the US office, he spoke to us about how he started NEOFECT, the company’s success factors and challenges they have faced in their bid to change physical therapy using online gaming.

Brief summary about your startup

Established in 2010, NEOFECT is a mobile health startup with a vision to deliver an affordable and effective at-home system to aid neuro patients with central nervous system disorders such as a stroke.

Its first product, RAPAEL Smart Glove, combines a wearable device, virtual reality and gamification for rehab exercise, while its software analyzes the data from built-in sensors and provides training tasks based on the patient’s activity level.

The device has been successfully employed by a number of major hospitals in South Korea since December of 2014, and approved for use in the US and Europe. NEOFECT has offices in S. Korea, San Francisco, and Poland.

Why and how it was started

The President of NEOFECT, Ho-Young Ban, experienced first-hand the difficulties faced by stroke patients and their families when his father and two uncles fell victims of stroke.

Although his uncles were fortunate to survive, they had to turn down the rehab therapy because of the costs involved. So, when his friend Young Choi came up with an idea of Rapael, Ban could not resist.

Soon after, their classmate from the University of Virginia’s Darden MBA program Scott Kim joined the team to launch the US operations.

Kim was born with spinal bifida and went through a surgery and a long rehabilitation process, so he immediately recognized the opportunity and became a co-founder and the CEO of the Neofect’s US office.

What has been the biggest success factors

Personal motivation of the founders combined with the latest, most advanced smart technologies have become the major engines behind the company’s success.

– Gamification, which motivates a patient throughout the rehab process. It helps to induce neuroplasticity for hand function of a patient with a brain damage.

Various rehab games are updated monthly and each game targets specific movements such as squeezing the orange for finger flexion/extension and pouring wine for forearm pronation/supination, for example.

– Artificial Intelligence: the software analyzes data from the glove’s sensors and provides training tasks based on the patient’s activity level. The algorithm is designed to enhance learning multiple functions by offering an optimal task at a proper level of difficulty.

– Wearable Device: RAPAEL Smart Glove is a wearable bio-feedback training gadget. Lightweight and designed to fit different hand sizes, it uses the Bluetooth technology to collect the patient’s data.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running the company?

The biggest challenge was the product’s concept itself. Many people believed that Rapael could be a threat to the therapists. Fortunately, after we launched the program in several hospitals, we’ve been able to prove that our device is designed with the doctors’ and patient’s needs in mind and helps them make the rehabilitation process more efficient.

Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?

This sounds like a cliché, but the right team is easily the answer to me. With the right people, you can make necessary adjustments based on new information to make sure there is a product-market fit.

My previous job was to lead a team to make mobile apps – without any exception, all great apps loved by users were made by great teams.

Final words for those chasing the startup dream

Never underestimate the importance of execution. Many people waste their time just to validate what they think or others think, or even just to finish the conceptualization.

However, you should “fail fast” in order concentrate your efforts on building a product which has a market demand, and of course, to save time and money as well.

Plus, you should fail while you are small rather than big, if you’re meant to face it. The earlier you do the reality check, the faster you can reach your goal, although it might cost you a couple of failures at the beginning.

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