Georgia County just paid $400,000 to hackers – Crucial steps to prepare your business. (March 2019)

Past Friday Jackson County Manager Kevin Poe confirmed that the county was in the process of restoring it’s systems by applying the decryption key they had been given by unknown hackers. After meetings with FBI and cybersecurity experts they agreed to pay $400,000 to unknown hackers to prevent extended of downtime.

During the critical time only 911 and the counties website where up and running, all other systems where down. The sheriffs department had to resort back to pen and paper for all their work and simply restoring the systems would have taken months.

In the past year 2400 Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) reported that 79% of their clients had been hit by ransomware. This make it the largest threat to SMB’s.

Atlanta became victim of a ransomware attack and for weeks they had to use pens and paper for everything. While government can recover, most SMBs can’t. Once vital systems are down, money stops coming in.

Most cybersecurity firms recommend a disaster recovery plan as well as a solid backup strategy. Also drills are part of the first line of defense. Making sure that an attack can’t destroy your business is pivotal. 

There is one man, who is intimately aware of these issues and found ways to carry his knowledge to SMB’S. His name is Ed Eisenstein, the former IT commissioner of Nassau county. He was running nationwide homeland security war games, as well as introduced many innovations until he left government to launch his own IT services company.

“Ransomware spreads in many different ways, but infected email attachments are high on that list. It takes some time to train employees to become highly security aware but you will never get it perfect. Therefore the main objective in any business should be a sensitive backup and recovery strategy that allows less than 24 hour recovery windows. Critical systems even way faster. Only when these measures are in place, management can relax.”, so Ed Eisentein. He concludes: “It can hit any time and when it does, most businesses end up paying ransom demands or potentially shut down.”.

“Always, always, always assume, yes be certain, that you will be hacked, that you will lose all data. It helps you to prioritize recovery strategies – Without them your business is already doomed” – Ed Eisenstein

In addition to these backup strategies he recommends to run drills for system recovery as well as to put real playbooks in place for different kinds of issues. “Once these measures are in place, firewalls, employee training and more are very important. Always, always, always assume, yes be certain, that you will be hacked, that you will lose all your data. Only then you make better decisions as of how to ensure full recovery. If you would lose your customer data today, what would be left of your business?” Ed Eisenstein about setting the right priorities. He admits that it might sound harsh or even paranoid but reiterates that experience unfortunately proves his point.

Ed Eisenstein is the founder and CEO of United Network Associates in New York and can be contacted at

Unwinding IT Problems in your office. Feb(2019)

At United Network Associates, Inc. it is just another day in saving the business world from poor IT work.

It is common for UNA to get calls from companies that have heard about the service and are having IT issues affecting their business.   

The first thing is a meeting.  The client meets with IT experts at UNA and an interview takes place. “Can UNA can repair the IT problems right now and then be available for service if we have a problem in a few weeks?” …

Recently, UNA received a call from a Industrial Services company that was experiencing daily data sharing and user issues to the point they were unable to operate.

On a daily basis, the users complained that their system seemed slow while errors were interrupting their work. The Problems were growing to the point where data was getting lost and the problems were compounding and erradic.

During the UNA interview, it was realized that many different IT companies have done service on this network although no one ever really cared to get to the bottom of these problems and band aided this network to the point where it was failing.

The UNA consultation resulted in a proposal describing the remediation and a road to success where there would be ZERO IT problems in their daily operation. The proposal described an approach of remediation in a logical manner and setting up the right data redundancies to maximize uptime and speed and minimize data loss.

The UNA proposal described a multi-step process in getting to the bottom of and forever correcting these annoying IT failures. Pealing back the layers of problems one by one that were compounded by years of quick fix fast in and out repairs that lead to these issues.

On the on-set, the client questioned a multi-step process and requested all the work be done in 1 step.  UNA reassured the client that a multistep remediation process will help us discover and eliminate any hidden issues that are difficult to locate.  

The client accepted the multi-step network remediation process and we were on our way.  At first, we logged and verified the issues and made a specific plan that was measurable and explainable. 

Second, we analyzed and found significant labeling issues at the primary location. It seemed that during a recent remodeling event, the data closet was affected by power problems during the construction. The remediation process was on the way ad we began with re-wiring the facility with new CAT6 wire and a new patch panel. 

Next, we replaced the network switches and upgraded to Professional Network Security appliances. In less than one day, our engineer re-established communication with all of the computers and equipment in that office.  

Finally, we added NAS equipment that consolidated their Data. This was a critical part of the completion to this project. During our visit we discovered not all of their critical data was being saved on the server hence not being backed up. By adding the Network attached Storage Device, there was now ample space to now copy and store all of the critical and growing data necessary to manage that company.

In the end, the client that has been experiencing years of IT issues has a perfect environment today and no problems exist.  The speed of the network is maximized, the user experience is maximized, and trust is re-established with their technology giving them assurance of stability and usability to perform their work.

We The client engaged UNA with a monthly managed Services plan where the network and the servers are being actively monitored. Drive space issues, update errors, Server and network failures are being monitored in real time to immediately alert network techs of issues in your environment.

Proactive support by UNA along with a properly configured network is the winning formula to minimize downtime and dataloss.

This is one of many ways, a IT managed service like UNA can help.