The New Era of Ransomware

by Oli Thordarson 

What do 22 Texas towns, Sony, Yahoo, T. J. Maxx, Target and Equifax all have in common? They were victims of some the largest cyberattacks our nation has ever seen. Oli Thordarson's interest in cybersecurity began 35 years ago and since then, it is a constantly evolving race to stay one step ahead. He sat down with us to talk about this "New Era of Ransomware."

Oli Thordarson, CEO of Alvaka Networks, in his own words: 

"The pranksters have graduated and, today, it’s organized crime. Robots are constantly scanning for vulnerabilities. Hackers can hack in, swiftly steal data, and destroy your back ups. They can encrypt data and then sell your data. They know to hit larger entities over the weekend or a holiday when security response may be slower.  And when it happens, be prepared for your company to be down for a week or longer. Rarely is the ransom the biggest expense. Recovery in the way of legal fees and breach notifications can destroy a company. Companies are getting hit hard as these attacks get more sophisticated. 

"Sadly, companies are still behind the curve when it comes to education. I like to say that security is like an onion – there must be dozens of layers of protection. Our 'digital first responders' throw down all sorts of obstacles: a fence, a wall, razor wire, pit bulls, motion detectors, etc. to deter an attack. 

"Many companies cannot economically protect themselves so they source services such as security, client computing and patch management to Alvaka. All of the security work is carried out in the United States – there is no outsourcing overseas because Alvaka clients prefer it for two reasons: more oversight, less vulnerability.

"Organizations find themselves impacted by Covid-19 and have had to change employee communication overnight. Many technology-based companies are better equipped to transition to remote working, but do you have policies and infrastructure in place to make the shift?  Experts predict that Covid-19 will heighten ransomware attacks and disrupt response efforts across all industries.

"In the cyber world, history keeps repeating itself. Victims of a cyber attack feel like war victims – they’ve been digitally bombed out.  Turning a blind eye on security is the real threat.  Invest upfront and do an assessment of security now."


OLI THORDARSON is CEO of Alvaka Networks a provider of network security and network management services. Mr. Thordarson has spent the last 35 years running his own companies in the Information Technology industry. He was the founding chairman of Intel backed Global MSP Network in 2001, an international consortium of companies providing network management services. He is very active in the community and serves on several leading industry boards promoting industry standards, growing professional expertise, and providing IT skills education and Discovery Science Center.
He also serves on the editorial advisory council for computer industry publications, writes blogs and chairs the Technology Leadership Political Action committee, and was on the national board of the American Electronics Association. Alvaka Networks has received many noted industry awards, most recently the Platinum Award for Best practices In Managed Services at the N-fluence Managed Service Conference and was named as one of the “20 to Watch” by CRN magazine and won the NASBA Top VAR award at the Gartner conference. Mr. Thordarson was named as one of the computer industry’s Top 20 Visionaries, earned the 2001 BTA Award of Excellence, and in 2000, Alvaka won the Solution Integrator Award for Best Remote Network Management Solutions.
During racing season, Thordarson travels the country with Alvaka Networks’ “Thorvette” and has won nationally sanctioned races as well as NASA time trials.