The CenterGrid team is constantly monitoring news and technical sources for the latest information on security incidents, vulnerabilities, exploits and cyber attacks that could impact our customers.  As part of this, I was reading the SANS NewsBites newsletter for the week that helps me pull together current events in this space.  There was a certain section that caught my eye.

Baltimore (Maryland) County Schools Suffers Ransomware Attack

(November 25, 30 & December 1, 2020) The Baltimore County Public School (BCPS) system was forced to cancel classes and shut its offices on Wednesday, November 25 after its network was hit with ransomware. BCPS exhorted students and staff not to use district-issued Windows computers. District-issued Chromebooks were not affected.

There were 4 web sources that gave the details on the incident. Essentially, over 115,000 students were idled for multiple days because of this ransomware attack on the district network and systems, including the administrative and grading systems. According to the sources, it was the Ryuk ransomware, which is pretty good at scrambling files. This news alone didn’t get my attention. Goodness knows it is not the first successful ransomware attack. Heck, it’s Baltimore County’s third in the 3 years! What really interested me was the district’s guidance that Chromebook computers issued by BCPS were not affected and could be used as normal. As Ryuk is a Windows-based ransomware, there’s nothing it can do to affect these Google Chromebooks that are running a Linux-based operating system.

CenterGrid knows the benefits of Chromebooks for organizations of all sizes. They are the end-user standard for access to our CenterGrid Compass Cloud PCs (DaaS), where we provide secure virtual Windows 10 desktops from our cloud. There are many reasons for this!

Windows 10 in a virtual desktop with Compass DaaS can be a much more secure solution than running Windows 10 on a PC. CenterGrid makes sure that those Windows 10 operating systems are patched against the latest viruses and ransomware as part of our managed service. And if you happen to click on the phishing email when you shouldn’t have, it’s not the end of the world. Because our virtual desktops are “non-persistent”, your Windows 10 desktop will be destroyed as soon as you log out, so your data stays safe for your next login, but the nasty bugs are flushed away.

Chromebooks just add the cherry on top for virtual Windows 10 desktops. When you need Windows 10 applications, they are available in a secured “bubble” that is accessible from anywhere on any device. But Chromebooks don’t need all the “care and feeding” that Windows 10 does. They update themselves regularly, double-check the security of their binaries at every boot, are impervious to Windows attacks, boot in seconds, and oh by the way, cost about half of what you probably pay today for your Windows PCs.

Management of Chromebooks is also simpler than Windows hardware. They can handle what you would expect (external keyboards, mice, dual monitors, USB peripherals, Bluetooth) but they can also run Android and Chrome applications next to the Windows applications in Compass DaaS. And if there is some software or hardware glitch that arises, pull the next Chromebook off the shelf, sign in and you are back to business as usual in no time.

School systems get this. That’s why Chromebooks are so prevalent across the country, and in my children’s school as well. CenterGrid’s customers get it too. Our latest case study is from SPCA Tampa Bay, our customer that is replacing PCs with Chromebooks and moving Windows 10 as well as their veterinary and clinical systems that go with it to our Compass cloud.

Protection from Windows malware, simplicity in management, additional capability, lower cost. Chromebooks are better than ever, and worthy of another look from your organization. We can help you sort through it, and provide even more value for the journey ahead. We Are Problem Solvers.

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Contact Us today to get a free demo or test drive of a Windows 10 PC in the cloud, to see how well it can work for you, with or without a Chromebook!

Read More

statescoop.com: Class canceled in Baltimore County, Md., in latest school ransomware attack

thehill.com: Cyberattack forces shutdown of Baltimore County schools for the day

www.bleepingcomputer.com: Baltimore students told to ditch Windows PCs after ransomware attack

www.theregister.com: Forget Snow Day: Baltimore’s 115,000+ public school kids get Ransomware Day, must check Win PCs for infection