The event hosted a panel of cybersecurity experts seen above. 

HOLMDEL, NJ — October is arguably the spookiest month of the year, filled with horror movies and ghouls decorating your neighbors’ front yards. While most people are familiar with the typical frights, there are unnoticed and unexpected threats lurking in the dark web: cyber criminals.

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October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and The Connection, Inc., a local IT support and consulting firm, headquartered in Hazlet, NJ, recognized it by hosting a spooktacular expert panel and networking event, on Wednesday, Oct. 21.  The event was held in the atrium area of Bell Works in Holmdel, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Costumes were optional and guests enjoyed food and drinks, as they won giveaways, exchanged business cards and listened to a series of panelists discuss cybersecurity. The event was sponsored by George Gremminger, president of The Connection, who moderated the panel:  Jack Casey, Jared Epstein, Eugene Erichsen and Nick Gaydos.

Gaydos, a security engineer at The Connection, defined cybersecurity as “the protection of everything technological for your business.” He said that cybersecurity protects many aspects of one’s business life, from basic work statements to their website’s firewall. 

Gaydos said most data breaches occur after someone responds to a misleading email. He said spelling mistakes are one of the biggest signs it is a scam.

Casey, a business development manager at World Insurance Associates, emphasized the importance of having proper insurance. He said insurance is especially critical for businesses that have people’s personal data or payment information stored in their system. Epstein, a channel account executive at Datto, agrees.

“If someone gets affected by malware and you don’t have some kind of protection, it is your responsibility,” Epstein said.

Casey said his firm once dealt with a restaurant that had a rogue employee, which is an employee who steals patrons’ personal information and sells it. One of the waitresses was making copies of people’s credit cards while she was processing them. Casey said this incident was covered through his company’s cyber liability policy. 

Gremminger shared that he was once a victim of a similar type of scam. He said one of his company credit cards was charged with $200,000 for purchases he didn’t make. This also happened to him after going to a restaurant.

Gremminger believes the best way to combat these types of attacks is by hiring professionals who will actively look at your network and protect your data.

“It’s a cost, but the other cost is if you do have a data breach and all this information gets out there. The fines are one thing, but all the information of your clients is another one,” Gremminger said. “You cause all your clients headaches because now their social security numbers and credit card information is out there. It’s a mess. The few dollars today could save you millions tomorrow.”

Epstein discussed how some scammers will also attack companies’ websites and hold them for ransom. During this time, companies lose access and are forced to put their businesses on pause.

“It’s debilitating,” Epstein said. “In every second that you’re offline, it’s costing you money.”

Gremminger said that it is important for everyone to have a backup, but even more important to know how to recover. This is where hiring professionals come in.

“If you can back it up, but not get it to work, what good does that do for you?” Gremminger said. “Hiring professionals can be the difference of whether it takes you two days to recover or a few minutes.”

Erichsen, vice president of business development at ConnectMeVoice, steered away from the topic of cyber criminals and introduced an app that merges one’s desk phone and mobile phone into one. MobileVoipConnect allows users to transfer calls, dial extensions, talk on 3-way calls, record conversations and view which employees are on calls, among other features.

“I’m sure a lot of times clients will get your personal number, and they’ll call you at 11 o’clock on a Friday night about a problem,” Erichsen said. “This way it gives you the opportunity to keep your personal life and your business life separate.”

Dorothea Zando, a Middletown resident, attended the event and said it taught her to be more cognizant of her own cybersecurity. She also really likes MobileVoipConnect.

Carrie Kuczkowski, the marketing and business development manager at The Connection, organized the networking event. She said it is important to always remain aware of cyber criminals. Gaydos said people should stay informed so they can know what's going on and how to protect themselves.

“It could be Joe the accountant from your office doing this,” Gaydos said. “You can’t really put a name to it. It’s so common that you just gotta keep an eye out for it.” So be aware and reach out to the professionals before it gets scary! If you are interested in connecting with any of the panelists, or connecting directly with The Connection, please email HERE.