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May 31, 2019

Microsoft is urging computer users running older versions of Windows – including Windows 7 – to update their operating systems as soon as possible to protect against a new vulnerability.

Microsoft released fixes on May 14 to protect against the vulnerability being referred to as BlueKeep. In a blog post on May 30 Microsoft stated “if recent reports are accurate,...

May 30, 2019

Security experts have long advised using multi-factor authentication (MFA) to help secure your most important accounts. Now Google has research showing the technology blocks the vast majority of attacks.

MFA takes the traditional user login and password and adds additional authentication factors from two or more of the following:

  • Something you know, such as a password
  • ...
May 16, 2019

The Office of CyberSecurity’s escape room challenges players to work as a team to find hidden clues and solve a series of puzzles within 25 minutes. The purpose of the competition is to heighten awareness about common bad practices many people fall into when it comes to securing their digital information. This year’s escape room offers a different look and new puzzles to solve. 

The competition will be held during lunch hours Monday through Thursday. Agencies can send over teams of...

May 08, 2019

No one should assume they are immune from identity theft or having their accounts hacked.

While politicians and top executives are often in the crosshairs of hackers, many people who are not in high profile occupations often become victims as well, said Aaron Brown, a security analyst with the Washington state Office of CyberSecurity, OCS.

“A lot of us wonder, ‘what do I have on my computer that hackers would want? I don’t do anything top secret or crazy, so why does anyone...

Apr 26, 2019

William Cram, who is earning a computer science degree, knows security is important but said a recent workshop held at Renton Technical College by the state Office of CyberSecurity (OCS) helped open his eyes.

“I didn’t realize how much we are under attack,” Cram said.

The workshop, held on April 9, provided information on common cybersecurity threats, such as phishing attacks, and reviewed ways that people and organizations can protect themselves online. Phishing is when bad...

Apr 02, 2019

A new malware campaign is taking advantage of the flu season by sending phishing emails that appear to be urgent communications from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recently released an alert about the phishing campaign:

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself, and your organization:

  • Don’t trust...
Mar 21, 2019

One of the most important things you can do to protect your computer is to regularly update the operating system. But that won’t be an option for many Windows 7 users starting early next year.

Microsoft plans to end support for the Windows 7 operating system on January 14, 2020, except for organizations who purchase...

Feb 12, 2019

The state Office of CyberSecurity, OCS, has launched a new program aimed at improving the security of sensitive information by creating a sort of government neighborhood watch for cybersecurity.

Called Washington Cyber Intelligence Exchange, or WaCIX, the program will help state agencies, counties and cities share information with each other about cyber threats they are seeing.

Government organizations that join the exchange will be able to provide other members with early...

Feb 12, 2019

That valentine that just arrived in your email may not be what it seems.

According to a recent report from the SANS Internet Storm Center, there’s a new malware campaign carrying ransomware with subject lines that include “Always thinking about you” and “I love you.”

The emails have attachments that all start with “Love_you.” Opening the attachments will infect the users’ computers...

Feb 05, 2019

A capacity crowd turned out this past weekend for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s “Pink Elephant Unicorn” capture the flag competition in Seattle. 

The national lab holds the competition twice a year, in eastern Washington and in the Seattle area, as a way to advance the field of cybersecurity and build awareness of computer safety and security. The events are open to everyone, regardless of skill level.

Two security analysts with the state Office of CyberSecurity...

Dec 17, 2018

This month’s briefing from our colleagues at the Multi State Information Sharing and Analysis Center includes news about criminals using the California wildfires in email scams, updates on malware in circulation, and a report of a drone vulnerability that could allow access to account information:


Dec 10, 2018

The online world has evolved and become a much more dangerous place in recent years. Data breaches at public and private organizations are constantly in the news.

Practicing good cyber hygiene is more important than ever.

With the holidays upon us, the state Office of CyberSecurity wanted to run through some common myths related to cybersecurity:

Myth: Small and medium...

Nov 07, 2018

Emotet is currently among the most prevalent and destructive types of malware in existence.

Recent modifications make it even more dangerous, but there are steps users can take to help protect themselves (please see below), including making sure you back up your computer and regularly update antivirus programs to insure they cover the latest threats.

Emotet is a banking Trojan that can steal data, such as logins and passwords stored in web browsers. It’s also often used to...

Nov 01, 2018

The state Department of Revenue won the 1st Annual Cyber Escape Room competition at the state Office of CyberSecurity.

“I thought that the Cyber Escape Room was a great way to demonstrate some of the risks related to physical security. I had a lot of fun with it,” said Sean Steiger-McRae, a member of the three-person DOR team that reached the final stage of the escape room with the fastest time – 24 minutes. 

The Department of Agricultural came in second and...

Oct 31, 2018

Thank you for playing this year’s Hacktober quiz! Overall, the game garnered more than 23,000 responses from state employees during the month.

The Hacktober campaign was aimed at raising awareness for Washington state’s 65,000 employees and encouraging conversation about the role everyone plays to safeguard public data, and protect critical services.

We had several requests this year for a list of all the Hacktober quiz questions and answers....

Sep 18, 2018

This month’s briefing from our colleagues at the Multi State Information Sharing and Analysis Center includes news about Microsoft using a court order to take down six websites associated with the nation-state cyber threat actor, Fancy Bear; and a federal jury convicting a man for DDoS attacks against hospitals:


Sep 17, 2018

The cybersecurity landscape is changing rapidly, and not in a good way.

Cyberattacks are no longer the sole domain of nation states and a relatively small number of criminals with technical skills. Hackers now sell their services on the internet; much like private stores sell goods and services to the broader public online.

State and local governments, including Washington state, are seeing a...

Aug 31, 2018

By the end of next year, more than 20 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet. 

It’s easy to see why. Almost everything we purchase today can be connected to Wi-Fi networks including lights, water sprinklers, refrigerators, toys, watches, shoes – even golf clubs. Not to mention your cellphone, laptop and automobile.

While the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices make life more convenient, they exponentially increase cybersecurity...

Jul 30, 2018

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s “Pink Elephant Unicorn” event in Richland, held July 13-14, attracted dozens of people eager to test their cybersecurity skills in a Capture the Flag, CTF, competition.

The event was open to anyone interested in learning about cybersecurity, regardless of skill level. In addition to the CTF competition, there also were cybersecurity presentations that participants could attend.


Jul 16, 2018

It’s summer vacation time again and travelers are busy packing cell phones, tablets and other connected devices into their luggage along with sunscreen and books.

Please keep in mind that cyber criminals are waiting for you to go on vacation as well.

They troll social media sites to learn who is traveling and left their home unoccupied. They also tap public Wi-Fi networks to steal personal...

Jun 01, 2018