Tom Patterson, Chief Trust Officer, Global Security at Unisys:
The recent ransomware cyber attack caught the world’s attention and it lends well to a discussion about cyber attacks and how to protect our data.Augusta was at the center of the defense against that worldwide ransomware attack that was launched the Friday before Mother’s Day. This international attack affected airlines, transportation, hospitals, and banks. The ransomware cyber attack hit more than 100,000 organizations and at least 150 countries. Global security expert Tom Patterson explained to our WJBF viewers last week that the bad guys are not trying to destabilize the world. They want our money.
It’s a new style of attack that started about a year ago. And what it does, instead of just stealing your data or destroying your data, it encrypts all the data, all of your files. It says, if you want them back, you have to pay me about $500.
Tom Patterson joins me today. We’re so pleased that you took the time to be with us, Tom.
You know, I think many people don’t realize how much of a role Augusta plays now when we hear things like cyber attack because of UNISYS being located here.
UNISYS’s global cyber intelligence unit is based right downtown in Augusta. We’ve run three shifts, seven by 24. We support not only local clients like Fort Gordon, we support our clients in critical infrastructure companies all over the world from right here in Augusta.
It’s really frightening when we hear cyber attack, when we hear ransomware. And I was saying to you earlier, it’s almost like we’re living in a movie because this stuff really is happening. One of the things that I thought was interesting when this attack happened, one of the pieces of advice you gave was when you get those annoying messages on your computer, that you need to upgrade your security, this is the time to do it.
That doesn’t mean click on every random email you get, because there’s some bad guys now saying, click on this to fix yourself. But when your operating system, when your Microsoft operating system, your Apple operating system, your phone operating system says, time to upgrade, do you want to do it now? This is the time to do it now. Because as we talked about, those patches that have existed for a month and a half, were not applied to all those 150,000 companies around the world. And they could have been. And they can be for you.
What does it mean? What are the implications when a bank is affected or when a hospital is affected by ransomware?
So this concept of what are called critical infrastructure companies. These are companies that if they’re attacked en masse, they affect the entire economy and way of life of an entire country. So the US government looks at 18 different critical sectors and health care is one of the most important of those sectors. So when there’s an attack that’s random and it just attacks whatever companies didn’t patch, but if it attacks a lot of companies in health care, that’s suddenly an attack on our critical infrastructure. So it’s no longer just an annoyance. Oh, my computer didn’t reboot. Oh, I lost the pictures I took at the party last night. What a shame. Now it’s oh, the heart pump’s stopped pumping. Or I can’t get the list of drugs to give to this person or I can’t even admit this person that needs help because that’s all computerized these days. So when you see an attack like that against one of these critical infrastructure sectors, it ups the importance of it. It’s one of the reasons that companies like UNISYS are in power to go out and really help defend them from these kinds of global attacks. We operate now in over 130 countries in the world. And we’ve got over 20,000 associates in the world, but our global cyber-intelligence is headquartered right here in Augusta, Georgia. And again, we support and defend these kinds of critical infrastructure companies all over the world from right down here.
We are becoming such a cyber city. Everybody now has heard of Cyber Command, we know that that is coming. And we know the cyber campus is being built now with Augusta University. How is Augusta gonna look 10 years from now, Tom?
What a great question. And we could talk for that for hours. It’s one of the reasons my family and I moved to Augusta last year. We want to be part of that great transformation. The only thing this town was missing when we looked at it was good, well-paying jobs and lots of ’em. And cyber brings that, whether you work for the government at Fort Gordon, work for the private sector at a company like UNISYS, or you’re working any of the many support jobs. Cyber runs around the clock, it runs seven by 24. So there’s a shift that works all night. So they need the services that normal people get during the day, they need someone to sell them the same kind of services at night. So if you got a dog-walking business, double your business and offer it at night. If you’ve got a babysitting business, if you’ve got a hairdresser, if you’ve got any other kind of service industry in this town, you’ll be able to if you stay plugged into what’s going on with cyber, really grow your business and hopefully make everybody in this town a real beneficial recipient of cyber.
Well, it’s very exciting, the changes that are coming and people care a lot about jobs. And that is terrific what you’re saying, the financial impact that it will have. And that this is a way that we’ll have good-paying jobs here. It also means we’ll be able to keep people here. Our kids, there’s so much training that’s gonna be available right here to go into these very sophisticated computer jobs.
The way the city and region has stepped up, and we refer to it as the Fort Gordon Cyber District. So that’s two states, seven counties. But they all participate in this cyber revolution that’s under way. And if you look at we’ve worked with all the educational organizations in there led by Augusta University and the great work Dr. Keel and his people have done, but really tying in the NSA Georgia team that’s helped set up the curriculum there. Some of the world-class undergraduate and now graduate programs in cyber are available right here. And then the two year schools Aiken Tech and Augusta Tech have really stepped up and customized their curriculum. There’s an opportunity, even K through 12. I do a lot of mentoring with kids in the K through 12 about careers and what to learn now and where to go. There’s great programs, plus there’s the non-profits like the Clubhouse that does training in cyber now for free for kids that wanna come in and learn how to program in Python or how to build robots. They do great stuff. The whole community’s really rallying around cyber and it’s fantastic.
You said something really interesting. The Clubhouse. I love their program, their Hack Augusta program.The STEM education is so important and there’s such an emphasis on that here. Our community colleges, our technical colleges, have worked so closely with the Chamber and other groups over the years to bring in industry, but this just takes it to a whole new level.
Everybody can benefit from this. That’s one of the key messages. I worked on an outreach group with Fort Gordon called the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon where the goal wasn’t to run Fort Gordon or to run these companies, but to be a bridge. And really to let everybody understand that if you want to participate somehow in all this change that’s coming, you can participate at any level. If you’re a kid, you can come learn Python at the Clubhouse. If you’re a company, you can learn about what changes you’re gonna need to support the different shifts. If you are in technical, I’ve seen one local company that was a technical company that rebranded itself to become a security technical company now. And reprogram their teams and really go into that really important area. So whatever you do, if you’re in the two state seven county area of the Fort Gordon cyber district, you should find a way to benefit from all this coming cyber.
I think that’s fantastic. Before we wrap up, what are the, you know the Mother’s Day present that fortunately stopped of the big ransom attack–
-the first wave. You had some really good advice for people who were going into work that next Monday but I think it’s probably good advice for us to follow just for our security.
It’s good advice all the time because what that ransomware thing did, is it woke everybody up. All these companies that thought, oh they won’t hit us, we’re just a hospital, we don’t have any money, or they won’t hit us. We don’t do this. Everybody now sees that they’re vulnerable to these kinds of attacks. And somewhere someone’s gonna click on the wrong link and let it in. So you gotta do those three things no matter what. If you haven’t done them yet, please do them now. One is back up your data. And if you’re a company, then back it up to the servers or the cloud or whatever you do, make sure that’s being done right. If you’re a home user sitting at home, just go grab a thumb drive, buy one at the grocery store, come home, plug it in, copy, just your files. What you wrote. The pictures you took, the things that are most precious to you. Not all the programs and the TV shows, that can be re-found. But your particular stuff, copy it onto a thumb drive, pull it out, put it in your sock drawer, and it’s safe from no matter what, what happens in the future you shouldn’t worry about losing that. And that’s really important. Second is, your operating system is going to ask you to patch your data. That’s really important. So these systems like I said, the big companies, the Apples, the Microsofts, the Googles that make these operating systems that we all use on our devices, they’re really good at security. So they came up with a patch for this ransomware, this recent ransomware program back in March. So more than a month and a half ago they came up with a fix. And they’ve asked you several times, do you want to update your operating system? Do you want to patch your operating system? This is the time to say yes, get those patches applied and whatever the next one is, and there will be a next one, and a one after that and a one after that, you won’t have to worry quite so much that it would affect you directly.
That’s so important. Thank you for saying it so clearly. That even people like myself who aren’t tech gurus can understand it.
That is the message for everybody. We’re all in this together. Companies have an additional layer of protection and obligation that is to segment their networks. So we can now overlay something called Stealth micro segmentation on top of that and it takes very easy, transparent, the users don’t see anything, but then the next time something comes in it gets caught in this little tiny container. It’s still a problem for those few people but it doesn’t take down the whole thing. It doesn’t make it a global epidemic. That’s what we want to stop on a global basis.
Alright. Tom Patterson, you are so wise and you’ve got such good advice. Thank you so much for being here.
KAPS 4 KIDS:
For 10 years a group of submariners has been visiting patients at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. Every Friday, the submarine veterans spend time talking with young patients and their families and they present honorary submariner awards to the children starting with a certificate and a picture of a submarine.
Then they get a cap that says Honorary Submariner. And they become shipmates. And we always try to make a point to stop in to say, how you doin’ shipmate? And make sure they know we’re looking out for ’em.
A lot of people say, I haven’t got time for that kind of thing. But to volunteer and get involved with something like these kids, it’s worth every minute. Submarine veterans all over the United States are doing the same thing we’re doing at different hospitals, of course.
Two members of the Caps for Kids Honorary Submariner Ministry are with me today. Ted Hussey and Ron Atchison. Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time.
And you all are chaplains with the Denizen of the Deep Base. I had the pleasure of surprising these veterans some years ago at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia with our WJBF Giving Your Best Award for this wonderful work that you do visiting the sick children and bringing a little joy into their lives. So tell me how you got started doing this.
Over 10 years ago, there was a young student nurse at MCG that had leukemia and she got a bone marrow transplant and she actually got the bone marrow transplant out in Seattle at the Hutchinson’s Center and the bone marrow came from our son. So we considered she was our daughter. And she said, well yes. My new life started. And she looked me straight in the eye and said, all my bad habits come from your side of the family. She graduated and went to work out in California about 40 miles from where our son lived and got to know that family very well and while she was out there, our granddaughter, our son’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. And she was in high school at the time, spent 26 months on chemo, lost all her hair, never wore a wig. She had a t-shirt that said Chemo Gal, Blue-Eyed and Bald. She is 12 years clear now. She’s doing very well. She graduated as a registered nurse and serving as an oncology nurse out in California. Got married, too.
That’s wonderful. So you have these connections that make it a very personal ministry for you. Ron, what do you enjoy doing about this?
I just love seeing the kids. We give them the certificates and the hats. It just brings them some joy in that terrible setting. They’re just stuck there and they don’t know when they’re getting released. And this gives them something. And if they have a brother or sister there, it makes the other ones a little jealous, actually. We want that too.
We’ve got some video to show you now of these guys in action. Take a look at this. Every week those war heroes walk the halls at the Children’s Medical Center, telling sea tales no doubt, and making honorary submariners. You can also call them submariners of these littlest of patients. The Members of the Denizens of the Deep Base Submarine Chapter in Aiken have already served our country yet they continue to serve our community now on land. And while the children and their patients are excited by the visits, these heroes say they get way more than they give. Is that right?
That’s true. It’s a delight. It is really fun and you know, you make friends. You really do.
Well obviously from the story you just told us, you really have made friends. And you shared with me some pictures here of children that you have visited over the years and happy stories of, a picture here of one young gal who is now married.
Married, right, and living in Augusta.
And back in Augusta. So how wonderful when you get to see them recover and move on with their lives. Now, these caps are so cute. And Ted, do you remember you gave me one?
Yes, I’m an honorary. But you have these tiny ones for newborn babies too. And you’ve got to take a look at these. Can we get a tight shot? Can you hand me the blue one there? They are so precious. For the little newborns. Oh, I just absolutely love it. And I think it is such a precious thing that you’re able to do. Tell me, what is the design there?
Those are dolphins. They’re dolphins, and they indicate when you wear those you’re qualified in submarines. And you’ll see that Ron has a pair on there. He has silver dolphins. So the enlisted men get, and the officers get gold dolphins.
Well you have a lot of great stories to tell and you’re doing such great work as volunteers and people certainly can take the lead from you and give of their time the way that you all give so freely. Thank you.
CURVITUDE BOUTIQUE CELEBRATES 6TH ANNIVERSARY:
Curvitude Boutique has been a downtown business for the last seven years. Kimberly Beasley is the owner, and she has even won Small Business of the Year. Kimberly, thanks for your time.
Thank you for having me.
Curvitude is on Broad Street. And you are unique because you’re a boutique. So people are gonna find different things there. Explain that to me.
I am unique because I sell clothes that are geared towards women with curves. So six, seven years ago when I started, there wasn’t any boutiques that were doing that. So I’m proud to be able to say I spearheaded that initiative to bring something different to Augusta. Where we had big businesses that were catering to plus-size women, there wasn’t any boutiques that were doing that. And most women don’t want to look like everybody else when they go to concerts, and movies, and shows, and they see their outfit two or three times. They look for boutiques that have different, unique, trendy, affordable fashions with great customer service and that’s what we provide. I am open five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to seven.
Great, so you’ve got some after work hours in there too, people can swing by.
Absolutely. We adjusted our hours. Our customers asked for us to swing it a little bit so that they could come after work.
Now the event that is coming up on June 2nd, tell me about that. You need to buy tickets in advance, right?
Yes. Our Curvitude Boutique is holding our six year fashion show. Now most people get confused, they’re like, well if you’ve been around for seven years why are you holding your sixth year? Our sixth year is our sixth year actually having a brick and mortar. I started out of my home, selling clothes out of my home and then the demand became so big that I had to have my own space. So that’s where the seven six year comes from. But we’re doing it this year in the Doris Building. We usually have it on the street, but you know if you want different you have to do different. So we are going to hold it in the Doris Building, $10 in advance, $15 at the door. We’re having a comedian Poncere, she is going to host it for us, and we’re having the amazing band Phaze 360. They’re going to play along while the ladies are walking.
Speaking about your clothes, tell me what the buy-back program is.
The buy-back program is a way for our Curvitude clients that, we only go two years back. So Curvitude clients that have bought something from us and they want to, okay, well I want to buy it back. And they then can use their credit towards something else in the store they wanted.
We’re so social media savvy now. And you’ll notice, oh my gosh, how many times has that outfit been on Facebook? I can’t wear it anymore.
Absolutely. And I have clients that are like well– and because our clothes are so unique, if they wear it maybe once or twice in the city, that’s it. They’ll go, I wore this in Atlanta or I wore it in Charlotte or whatever. So what we do is let’s have a buy-back program because we only carry one to two in each size. And once we sell it, it’s gone.
It needs to be clean, no tears, no funky smells, no cigarette smoke.
And then they get credit to continue shopping at Curvitude?
Absolutely, absolutely! And they can use that. And then someone who may be on more of a tighter budget may be able to come in and pick up that outfit for a lesser price. So it kind of helps both groups out. Maybe some people are like, I’ve had this in my closet, I’ve worn it too many times. They buy it back, they may be able to get something else they want, and then you may have someone whose budget may be, I can’t per se afford this dress here, but I can get this and look just as nice.
The Curvitude Boutique’s Sixth Anniversary Fashion Show, Friday, June second, seven o’ clock at the Doris Building. Kimberly, by the way is a veteran. She’s retired military. Thank you for your service. And for your family’s service. She comes from a big military family. And this community certainly appreciates that.