Calm in the COVID storm: AT&T Cybersecurity

January 5, 2021  |  Rupesh Chokshi

We’ve been busy at AT&T Cybersecurity during the pandemic. Turns out we could help out our network customers in so many ways. Here are some examples:

Helping enable remote learning

Many schools closed their doors in Spring 2020, when COVID-19 cases began to spike within the U.S. and quickly transitioned to a distance learning model. While this move was necessary to protect the health of students and faculty, it left many low-income families in a position to figure out how they could connect their children to their school’s virtual classrooms when they had no internet service at home.

AT&T worked with popular sports team, the San Antonio Spurs, to offer free and highly secure wireless internet to families from the AT&T Center parking lot. The Spurs managed the physical solution via Aruba Networks provided wireless access points, while AT&T provided the 1GbE internet circuit at no cost. And while access is critical to remote learning, it’s also important that students’ ability to participate in class isn’t hampered by issues that could cripple their device, such as malware. So, to protect students from threats that they may encounter online, AT&T Cybersecurity’s Global Security Gateway service was also deployed free of charge.

Preserving business continuity

Organizations are relying more than ever on their network connections to support their remote workers and to process e-commerce transactions. Bad actors have identified this dependence as a prime opportunity to strike and make some quick cash.

Over the past couple of months, there have been global DDoS extortion campaigns that began with targeting businesses within financial services sectors but has since expanded to include many other industries. Victims of this campaign have received letters demanding payment of 20 Bitcoin on average (approximately US $227,000), to avoid large volume DDoS attacks.

The AT&T Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center has been monitoring the network traffic 24x7 for customers that subscribe to the AT&T DDoS Defense service to identify and mitigate attacks but also assisting many non-subscribing customers with emergency mitigation services. In these instances, AT&T redirected the network of affected organizations to its scrubbing centers to block the malicious traffic, while letting legitimate transactions to flow unimpeded, allowing business to resume without paying these inflated ransom demands.

Detecting threats before they impact your business

One thing that hasn’t slowed down during this pandemic is cybercrime. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding the current global health and economic situation as well as sudden shifts and exposures in IT environments to launch attack campaigns. The FBI recently reported that cyberattacks are up to around 4,000 incidents per day.

With this increase in attacks, organizations need visibility and continuous monitoring of their entire environment to help detect and respond to threats before their business is impacted. The AT&T Managed Threat Detection and Response analyst team has been monitoring customer environments 24x7 for signs of potential threats and documenting investigations. For examples, checkout the blog series: Stories from the SOC.

The team has been able to detect compromised accounts to prevent brute force attempts and even detect malware that slipped past antivirus software. The threat intelligence from AT&T Alien Labs that is continuously fed into the USM platform in the form of correlation rules has enabled AT&T to detect threats sooner and to help  prevent damage to customers.

Security for your digital transformation

The shift in the way we do business during these unfamiliar times has accelerated digital transformation for many organizations. Businesses are migrating sensitive and business-critical information to public cloud environments and looking for new ways to transform their network.

One key strength of AT&T is our ability to deliver multiple solutions for digital transformation across environments, including security and networking capabilities. We’ve noticed a shift in customers’ behavior - they are now leading with the security elements versus the network elements.

For example, our cybersecurity team recently helped a healthcare customer with a holistic solution that addressed their move from MPLS to a highly secure SD-WAN solution and helped to protect and enable a remote workforce. We were able to provide consulting services - AT&T Global Security Gateway and AT&T VeloCloud SD-WAN.

As you can see, AT&T Cybersecurity has been busy during the pandemic, and we’ll keep making progress helping our customers protect their networks and stay safe!

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Tags: covid-19

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