No FREE LunchBy Russ Levanway, CEO

Industry Allies

TekTegrity seeks out and continually works with fantastic partners and vendors who understand the unique challenges of the technology industry. We do this because we know that being in it together forges relationships, loyalty, and direct lines of communication, enabling us to better respond to the changing dynamics of IT and bring better solutions to our clients.

To this end, we also invest a significant amount of time attending conferences and participating on advisory boards. For example, our COO, Jeremy Koellish, is very influential in the technology community and is a member of several different advisory boards including that of security provider OpenDNS.
Decisive Point 

Back in July of this year, we launched an awareness campaign to educate our clients on how to protect their computers against virus infection. You may recall an article I wrote around that time called Resist The Click: Your First Defense Against Cyber Sabotage in which I described the importance of being skeptical and cautious about email and attachments.

In Resist the Click I also talked about the layers of security TekTegrity and other IT companies employ to protect their environments, specifically OpenDNS, an added layer of protection to antivirus software that can block viruses like CryptoLocker and its ransomware variants.

I shared that when we first deployed OpenDNS as a company, the number of virus infections experienced by our clients dropped dramatically. This was a testament to the additional layer of security that OpenDNS was able to provide above and beyond conventional antivirus software. However, over time, the crippling CryptoLocker and its variants got the upper hand again, and the effectiveness of OpenDNS began slipping.

Soon after the article was published on our blog, OpenDNS happened to read it. To their credit, they responded quickly and mobilized internal resources and called an all-hands-on-deck meeting to discuss the reality of virus writers out maneuvering their software. Partly as a result of our direct feedback, OpenDNS recently developed a new version of their software that we’ll be rolling out in the next few weeks that can prevent crypto-attacks. It’s called DNS Layer Enforcement, which, in a nutshell, stops callbacks to command and control servers that are used for CryptoLocker and other ransomware variants.

Speak Loudly and Ditch the Big Stick

We’re certainly not the only ones who wrote or talked about the issue of ransomware outpacing cybersecurity software, but as one of the country’s largest IT providers who serve small businesses, we’ve made it our business to be very engaged with our partners and vendors like OpenDNS, who provide solutions for small businesses like we do.

Of course, the battle between virus writers and security professionals is ongoing. Sometimes the virus writers get the upper hand – we recently felt like they did with CryptoLocker – but OpenDNS has come back swinging, assuming a leadership role, making adjustments to their product, and helping to develop rapid leaps in the technology. Other antivirus software like Webroot, which we’re now deploying also, has created innovative measures as well to protect computers from virus infections, including new ransomware variants.

Speak up and engage your providers and vendors. They want to improve and stay ahead of the curve, but they rely on your feedback to do so. It’s often better to share with them, respectfully, what is and is not working than to jump from one provider to another. Consider it a partnership, and your entire industry will benefit.

//Russ is a sought-after public speaker, technology expert, and community leader. As the CEO of an ever-growing managed services company with offices in both San Luis Obispo and Fresno, Russ’s goal is to sustain and grow an IT company that provides incredible value for clients, and a great workplace for his team. When not charting out the future for TekTegrity, Russ serves on several non-profit boards, volunteers at the People’s Kitchen and traveling the world with his wife and two daughters.
TekTegrity enhances the productivity and enriches the lives of our health care, affordable housing, business and small office clients in  San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, FresnoBakersfield and beyond.