Winquest President & CEO Wins Cybersecurity Champion of the Year

(April 22, 2019 — Hanover, Md.) Winquest Cybersecurity President & CEO John Leitch took home the Cybersecurity Champion of the Year Award at the 2019 MD Cybersecurity Awards presented by the Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc. (CAMI) at the LIVE! Casino & Hotel on April 11, 2019. In partnership with EZShield, Maryland Department of Commerce and Point3 Security, the 3rd annual awards celebration was enjoyed by a sold-out crowd of 350 attendees.

Described as an unsung hero of Maryland’s cybersecurity ecosystem, Leitch has done a tremendous amount not only in the field of cybersecurity, but for CAMI. Leitch’s nominee credited him with successfully influencing legislators to include cybersecurity services in Maryland’s 2018 Cybersecurity Incentives Tax Credit Bill. Previous to his involvement, the bill only included incentives for cybersecurity products. Leitch recognized that Maryland’s cybersecurity community is a strong partnership of both products and services and “not only ensured a vital piece of Maryland’s cybersecurity community could benefit from the tax incentives, it also benefits Maryland businesses by encouraging them to take actions to better protect their, and their customers, information from cybercriminals.”

In addition to accepting the Cybersecurity Champion of the Year Award, Leitch presented the Cybersecurity Industry Resource Award to Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC), with Winquest sponsoring the award.

Leitch was also elected to the CAMI board of directors in November and is excited to help bring the organization to the next level. Winquest has greatly benefited from its relationship with CAMI, and together they will continue to elevate the cybersecurity industry in Maryland. Known as the “cyber capital of America,” Maryland is poised as the epicenter of cybersecurity in the United States. Winquest, CAMI and the other incredible cyber organizations present at the awards are all doing their part to secure businesses of all sizes.

Winquest Cybersecurity offers military-grade solutions specializing in small and midsize companies, including vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, incident response, security awareness training, and their exclusive Cybersecurity Abbreviated Vulnerability Assessment (CAVA™).

Continue reading about the suite of services offered by Winquest.

From the Trenches: Cybersecurity Legislation

The landscape of cyber threats is constantly evolving and critical cyber infrastructure, programs, operations and policy is increasingly important. In response, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was created through legislation in November 2018.

Legislation on both the federal and state levels is imperative in order to ensure data privacy and thwart cyber war. In light of the most recent presidential election and subsequent cyber threats, cybersecurity has become an increasing focus for lawmakers. Coupled with an expected rise in data breaches, leaks and exposures in 2019, cybersecurity is top of mind for the 116th Congress and policymakers across the nation. As legislative sessions are in full swing, an increase in cyber laws are expected to be introduced.

Federal Legislation

During the 115th Congress, 2017 – 2018, thirty-one cybersecurity related bills were given committee consideration or passed one or both chambers. Out of those, five became public law.

1. Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act: the law establishes a Department of Energy (DOE) policy for science and energy research and development programs, and reforms National Laboratory management and technology transfer programs, as well as directing DOE to report to Congress on integrated research programs in cybersecurity and national security, among others.

2. John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019: the bill authorizes appropriations and sets forth policies regarding military activities of the Department of Defense, including cybersecurity matters.

3. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018: establishes several cybersecurity efforts and new rules and programs related to information security; allows the President to define what “cyberwar” means; the Pentagon will reexamine the department’s internal organizational structure surrounding its cybersecurity related missions (SEC. 1641, SEC. 1644, and others); the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management will launch a joint pilot scholarship program aimed at educating and recruiting talent directly out of universities.

4. FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017: requires the Chief Information Officer of each covered agency to conduct a risk management review of those investments that have received a high-risk rating for four consecutive quarters, among other things.

5. Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017: authorizes a National Computer Forensics Institute within the U.S. Secret Service, which will disseminate information related to the investigation and prevention of cyber and electronic crime and related threats.


State Legislation

In addition to federal legislation, in 2018, at least 35 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico introduced more than 265 bills or resolutions pertaining to cybersecurity. More than 52 of those bills were enacted. Legislation addresses:

• improving government security practices
• providing funding for cybersecurity programs and initiatives
• restricting public disclosure of sensitive government cybersecurity information and
• promoting workforce, training and economic development.

With legislative session in full swing across the county, additional cyber laws on the state level will be more apparent in the coming months.

Keeping up with new and ever changing cybersecurity legislation is challenging. Make Winquest your trusted advisor to keep you up-to-date so you don’t get blindsided by new laws and regulations. For more information contact us at

From the Trenches: How cyber aware are your employees?

Security is only as strong as your weakest link, which is usually an employee. In fact, “91% of cyber attacks and the resulting data breach begin with a spear phishing email,” according to a 2016 report from PhishMe. Simply put, a majority of attacks are the result of an employee clicking on an email that contains malware.

Cyber-attacks are becoming more prevalent and employees at all levels need to be aware of how to protect their information. Below are a few quick tips on what to focus on when it comes to cybersecurity training:

1. Concentrate on phishing scams and social engineering
2. Standardize password policies
3. Include training during onboarding
4. Make an incident response plan

Recently, a local company called on Winquest to help after two phishing attempts, the second being successful.

First attempt

The company’s bookkeeper received an email that looked like it came from a legitimate email address within the organization. The email asked that this employee’s next paycheck be moved to a different account than it normally deposited to. It wasn’t until the bookkeeper approached the employee in person to verify the account change that they realized it was a phishing email. First phishing attempt thwarted because the bookkeeper verified the authenticity of the request before taking any action.

Second (successful) attempt

The second phishing attempt on the same company was unfortunately successful. An employee received an email from who she thought was the company president, who was on vacation at the time. The exchange was as follows (names changed for privacy purposes).

Email from the “president”: How quickly can you get to the store? I need you to purchase some gifts for some specific clients. I would provide you with details on what product of gift cards and the exact quantity and amount needed. I can’t take calls, because I am in a meeting. I have my iPad next to me so I can quickly respond to your message”

Response from employee: “I have a meeting at 1, but should be done by 1:30ish so I can go after if that’s helpful. Just let me know what you need!”

“President”: “What I need is Google Play cards of $100 face value. I need 6 of each card. That’s $100 X 6 = 600. Scratch the back out and email me the codes or pictures of the scratched codes. Let me know. Thanks.”

Employee: “OK, I can buy them online and send the code directly to your email. You should get them in a moment.”

“President”: “E-Gift Cards takes 24hrs to activate, get the physical cards and email them to me.”

Employee: “Just tried to buy them and was denied because of a few things:

1. Store policy only allows $400 of gift cards at a time
2. The name on the card has to be the name of the purchaser 

So, how urgently do we need these? I could ask either Amy or Jessica to go out and get $400 worth, or I could get them online if we are good with waiting 24 hours.”

“President”: “You can ask Amy or Jessica to get them.”

Employee: “Ok, I am sending Amy the details, she is in a meeting but said she will go when she gets out.”

“President”: “Have you purchased the cards?”

Employee: “Just sent them all your way, please let me know if you have any issues with them!”

“President”: “Thank you. Cards received and sent out accordingly. Sadly, I would need you to get 10 more cards. Let me know when you can get that ASAP. Thanks.”

Employee: “10 more meaning $500 worth or 10 more meaning $1000?”

“President”: “Have you been able to purchase the cards?”

It was after this message that the employee realized they had fallen for a scam. However, it wasn’t a sophisticated approach at all. One look at the email address it was sent from would have tipped the employee that the emails weren’t in fact coming from the company president.

The company employee is not alone and attacks like this happen frequently due to lack of awareness training. The lack of employee-level cybersecurity training is concerning, seeing how prevalent these attacks are and how expensive they can be. In fact, the average cost of a phishing attack for mid-size companies is $1.6 million, according to PhishMe.

Since this attack, the company has agreed to be a pilot for a new Winquest employee-level cybersecurity awareness training program. This training program is effective, convenient and inexpensive and follows our goal of making cybersecurity services affordable for all businesses.

For information on Winquest cybersecurity training for your employees, contact us at or visit to see our other offerings.

Security in the Cloud for SMBs

If you own a small or medium-sized business (SMB) and are looking to keep your information safe, the cloud may be right for you. Cloud computing is the off-site access and storage of data and applications with a provider that also provides infrastructure, redundancy and security. It is gaining popularity for SMBs who need to keep information secure but don’t have the resources that large corporations do. The cloud is still an unfamiliar concept to some, however, so it poses the question, what are the advantages of using the cloud?

Lower cost

Cloud security is more attainable for SMBs that don’t have the budget for in-house, traditional IT security teams. It can dramatically cut IT costs and requires low upfront infrastructure investments compared to high costs to set up and manage physical servers or storage devices. Using the cloud eliminates that need to maintain facilities and hardware.

Cloud security is not only cheaper to set up, but also more cost effective in the long-run. Cost is tied to usage. You can scale storage up or down depending on the needs of your business. The more storage, the more expensive, but you can adjust based on your changing needs. Cloud providers don’t charge for unused infrastructure.

More secure

As cloud storage increases in popularity, it is becoming more secure. Data in the cloud is usually encrypted, meaning the information is only accessible if you have the password or key to the encryption. This encryption would have to be cracked before an intruder could gain access to your businesses’ information.

While moving data to the cloud is a great business practice, especially for SMBs, remember that people are key to any technology’s security. Encrypted files will only remain so if your employees are security-conscious and don’t make it easy for cybercriminals to gain access to their cloud credentials.

If your business chooses to move its data to the cloud, make sure you get help to make your transition smooth. Here are a few simple tips to make the move an easy one:

1. Choose the right provider for you. Do your research. With a rise in the use and amount of cloud computing platforms, determine which is best for your business size and amount of data storage you need. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and know the database size you’ll need and the capacity demands of your business.
2. Prepare and plan. Inform your employees of the upcoming migration so everyone can prepare which documents and information will need to be moved over. Be sure that your current systems are compatible with your cloud provider before you begin the transition process.
3. Migrate your data. Keep in mind that migration will entail giving some control over your files to your cloud provider during the transfer. In addition, have an IT professional work with you and your cloud provider to help ensure all of your data is transferred properly and securely.
4. Check. Make sure everything is working post-transition. Check that your applications are running smoothly and all of your data moved over to the cloud.

Making the move to the cloud is a big decision for any business. Weigh the pros and cons of different cloud providers and take into account the size and demands of your business.

Winquest Testifies on Cybersecurity at NAIC Spring Meeting

April 3, 2016 – Winquest Cybersecurity President & CEO, John Leitch, testified on cybersecurity at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Spring Meeting in New Orleans.  The purpose of Leitch’s testimony was to supplement Winquest’s written comments to the NAIC’s Draft Cybersecurity Model Law. The Model Law is being drafted by NAIC’s Cybersecurity Task Force composed of State Insurance Commissioners with the goal of providing cybersecurity regulations for the insurance industry.

Leitch’s testimony included; a short discussion of Winquest capabilities and experience (at the committee’s request), a request for clear and unambiguous definitions in the Model Law, support for using the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as one, of many, established cybersecurity standards and suggestions to help determine the adequacy of Third Party Service Provider’s cybersecurity programs.

Leitch’s testimony may also lead to NAIC using Winquest as a resource for further cybersecurity research.

$36k – Average Cost of a Data Breach

The costs of a data breach add up quickly. A report published by First Data, a major credit card processing company, drives home the cold hard reality of the direct costs of a cyber attack and the potentially devastating effects beyond actual expenses. Their report focuses on compromised customer credit card data as opposed to other forms of cyber attacks. Here is their outline of direct and indirect costs:

Direct Costs

  • A mandatory forensic examination
  • Notification of customers
  • Credit monitoring for affected customers
  • PCI compliance fines
  • Liability for fraud charges
  • Card replacement costs
  • Upgrade or replacement of POS system
  • Reassessment for PCI compliance

Indirect Impacts:

  • Damage to your brand and business reputation
  • Bad press
  • Loss of credit payment privileges
  • Your time

Click to ready their full report.

Online Attacks on Business are Relentless

November-2015-Motivations (1)If you ever have any doubt about the magnitude and frequency of cyber attacks, check out “” Paolo Passeri, a sales engineer for OpenDNS in London, maintains this fascinating site tallying not every cyber attack, just major events covered in the news. He catalogs the types of attacks, their motivation and creates a timeline each month. Bottom line? The more we depend on the Internet to run our businesses and conduct transactions, the more criminals will focus their attention online as well. 2015-Cyber-Attacks-Statistics-Featured

71% of Cyber Attacks Target Small Businesses

The Chairman for the House Committee on Small Business, Steve Chabot (R-OH), opened a recent hearing with the startling fact that over 71% of cyber attacks occur at businesses with fewer than 100 employees. He went on to say, “The American government, American businesses, and Americans themselves are attacked over the Internet on a daily basis. Sometimes they know, sometimes they don’t. These attacks come from criminal syndicates, ‘hacktivists,’ and foreign nations. They’re after intellectual property, bank accounts, Social Security numbers, and anything else that can be used for financial gain or a competitive edge.”

The Committee also heard from Todd McCracken, President of the National Small Business Association, who discussed the fact that small companies currently have fewer resources to address cyber attacks. “Many small companies are not in a position to have a dedicated IT department, and many either outsource IT functions or assign such duties to an employee with other responsibilities—often the owner him/herself. In fact, the number of business owners who personally handle IT support appears to be on the rise,” McCracken said.

This testimony was presented April 22, 2015 as part of the committee’s consideration of H.R. 1560, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, and H.R. 1731, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act. Click here for more information.