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Continuing Pandemic is Causing Broadband Operators to Adjust to New Cybersecurity Landscape



Photo of Matt Krueger, vice president of product management at Shentel

November 24, 2020 — As internet service providers are moving to enable numerous Wi-Fi services for their customers, security threats are looming larger than ever.

According to the Parks Association, the typical American family currently has an average of 12 connected devices per home, with the amount of Internet of Things devices utilized in each household rising every year; however, the majority of these devices lack the proper security or have no security at all.

In the face of manifold cybersecurity threats, Tier 2 internet service operators, or internet service providers which engage in peering with other networks, are working tirelessly to combat security threats alongside efforts to expand broadband access.

On Monday, representatives from Tier 2 operators gathered to explain their companies’ approaches to securing Wi-Fi networks, during a Broadband Communities webinar.

“Wi-Fi has evolved,” said Matt Krueger, vice president of product management at Shentel, “Six or seven years ago our job was to provide a single Wi-Fi connection. Now, we are on the security front.” According to Kreuger, Tier 2 operators’ role in network security has drastically evolved over the past five years.

“We pushed security responsibilities to the device originally,” said Krueger. Yet, in 2016, the service provider launched Eero, a company specializing in network monitoring tools, which moved the tracing of cybersecurity threats to the network.

According to Kreuger, Eero’s system allows Shentel to see where threats exist and where they initiate. “If there is a fishing attempt or a malware attempt, we are able to see what is being threatened on a device-level,” he said.

UTOPIA Fiber and Lumos discuss their role in network security

UTOPIA Fiber CEO Roger Timmerman detailed UTOPIA’s unique wholesale and open access model causes it to utilize a different approach to securing its networks.

“However, that does not keep us from getting involved,” said Timmerman. “We provide recommendations, but we do not provide ISPs with network security monitoring tools.”

Timmerman recommended that users only connect trusted devices to their Wi-Fi networks, and that they not attempt to discount crucial equipment, such as routers.

“Users cannot rely on old or cheap routers,” said Timmerman, adding that the life cycle of routers is typically three years, and that outdated equipment is likely to get hacked.

David Smith, vice president of technical operations at Lumos, detailed the company’s approach to securing its networks, saying that getting network security tools in the hands of customers is a high priority.

“We want to give customers the tools they need to control their homes,” said Smith.

Lumos partnered with AirTies to empower users to utilize the range of security functions offered by the Wi-Fi mesh technology, one of the most secure wireless networking strategies.

According to the security experts, technology and cybersecurity threats are going to keep adapting, with Wi-Fi 6 capable devices on the horizon.

“Shentel will be deploying Eero Wi-Fi 6 devices within the next 30 days,” said Krueger, saying “we want to get the devices out there so end users can begin to feel the benefits.”

Former Assistant Editor Jericho Casper graduated from the University of Virginia studying media policy. She grew up in Newport News in an area heavily impacted by the digital divide. She has a passion for universal access and a vendetta against anyone who stands in the way of her getting better broadband. She is now Associate Broadband Researcher at the Institute for Local Self Reliance's Community Broadband Network Initiative.


On Cybersecurity, Federal Guidance is Absent and Local Governments Won’t Let Them In, Says Cisco

Texas government official says that “cybersecurity needs to be a kitchen table topic.”



Photoillustration for a Cisco innovation and research symposium in April 2018 by J. Barande used with permission

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2022 – Software and networking company Cisco is asking state governments to let it in on the conversation of cybersecurity.

Mike Witzman, the director of systems engineering at Cisco, said at a cybersecurity event hosted by the Information Technology Industry Council on Wednesday that the company wants to be more than a product or service and wants to be involved in government conversations about improving security against vulnerabilities.

Witzman emphasized the need to bolster public-private partnerships in front of Texas and Florida representatives Wednesday. That included Amanda Crawford, chief information officer for the State of Texas, who said the state’s plan includes responding to cybersecurity events with the urgency of natural disasters.

The problem currently hampering the Lone Star state, according to Crawford and Texas House Representative Giovanni Capriglione, is that local governments are not participating in cyber matters as much as they could or should. They also blamed a lack of guidance from the federal government on their cybersecurity preparedness.

Training for cybersecurity and individual protection

James Grant, Florida’s chief information officer, said that his state is focused on bringing recent graduates in for cyber training to prepare the state in protection measures.

The discussion also raised the need for citizens to protect themselves. That included getting citizens to do basic things like use stronger passwords and activate multi-factor authentication to protect their data.

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Biden On Lookout for Cyberattacks with Russia Massing on Border of Ukraine

The president says that, in the past, Russia has taken covert military actions.



Photo of President Joe Biden on Thursday

WASHINGTON, January 20, 2022 – President Joe Biden said Thursday that the administration will be on the lookout for Russian cyberattacks in Ukraine as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin may be edging closer to invading Ukrainian territory.

Biden warned that, in the past, Russia has launched aggressive computer attacks that, while perhaps falling short of overt military action, have been daunting cyber-offensives of “military” officials not wearing Russian uniforms.

The comments came at the beginning of Thursday’s meeting of Biden’s Infrastructure Implementation Task Force. Biden briefly addressed rising tensions surrounding Ukraine.

Many critics of Russia, including Biden, have said that they Putin will pounce.

During his remarks, Biden said Moscow would “pay a heavy price” should it move any Russian troops across the Ukrainian border.

Following his foreign policy comments, Biden turned his attention to the planned task force talks on implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed on November 15, 2022.

He turned to former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the administration’s unofficial “infrastructure czar,” to offer comments on the administration’s progress to press.

Biden specifically addressed the law’s implications for ongoing supply chain issues.

Since the back half of 2021, the world has faced historic shipping delays on a variety of commercial goods as global manufacturing systems continue struggling to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and workforce shortages exacerbated by it.

Specifically, the tech industry has faced chronic shortages of semiconductor chips, perhaps worse than most other commodities. The shortages have crippled many digital industry supply chains. products.

Biden said that with the infrastructure law investment in physical infrastructure, including additional highways to alleviate traffic on the nation’s roads, will allow goods to be transported faster through existing supply chains.

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Telework Here to Stay, But Devices Need Beefed Up Security

The future of teleworking will need upgraded security.



Allen McNaughton, sales director at Infoblox

WASHINGTON, January 19, 2022 – Remote work is here to stay, but that means getting up to speed on securing websites is critical, said a director at an information technology security company Wednesday.

At a Business of Federal Technology event, which posed the question “is hybrid forever?,” Kiran Ahuja, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, said “hybrid remote work and telework policies are clearly helping not only federal agencies, but literally every single office, company, and organization in this country.”

But while Allen McNaughton, sales director at security company Infoblox, agreed that telehealth is “here to stay, no doubt about it,” he also made clear that the reality of hybrid work is not effective without protected technology.

“When you have telework, when you have people that can work anywhere in the world, the world is now your attack surface,” says McNaughton. McNaughton noted that there is now a greater opportunity for hackers to install malware on unsecure devices.

The country has already been gripped by high-profile cyberattacks, including on software company SolarWinds, oil transport company Colonial Pipeline, and meat producer JBS USA.

Some of the attackers simply gained access because devices had simple default passwords, raising concern among security experts about how prepared people are for full-time remote work and school.

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