Skillsoft Blog

Giving back at Spiceworld ‘17

By Kieran King


Spiceworld is a “must attend conference” for IT pros; the perfect opportunity to network, attend practical how-to sessions, and lose yourself in the world of all things tech with fellow like-minded individuals. Organized by Spiceworks, the professional network for the IT industry and perhaps the world’s most trusted IT marketplace, it is the highlight of the IT calendar.

It’s why, in early October, we all descended upon the Austin Convention Center for two and a half days of tech, tech and yeah, more tech.

It was an exciting time for us, as this year one of our Live Learning instructors, Michael Murphy, presented one of the most popular breakout sessions, Exchange 2016: Defense Against The Emergent Threats Of The 21st Century Internet.

For those of you who missed it, or even if you did attend, here’s a quick overview.

Michael began his talk explaining how the motivation for cyberattacks has changed and today the threat is about cash, cold hard cash extorted from American business and siphoned off to criminal syndicates. Were you aware that in 2016 businesses paid out $850 million versus only $24 million in 2015, just to get their data back? He described in detail the complexity and sophistication of the Locky and Sage ransomware, about their distribution platforms, and what threats they pose to your business and what applications/systems are most vulnerable. He then went on to examine how built-in Exchange 2016 features, and Exchange online Protection can defend your business from and mitigate the effects of evolving threats.

Awareness about these threats is key, which is why I think it makes sense to include the following list of the top ransomware families in 2017.

  1. Cerber
  2. Locky
  3. Dharma
  4. Spora
  5. Torrent locker

Typically at events like Spiceworld, we give away freebies; everything from a water bottle to totes and all emblazoned with the company name in bright, catchy letters. This year we decided to replace such tchotchkes with a pledge to donate $5 on behalf of each attendee that visited the Skillsoft booth to one of three Houston based charities. The three charities chosen for this fundraiser are currently on the ground in Houston and the surrounding areas assisting those in need who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Each attendee was provided the option to choose whether the donation on their behalf would be sent to the Houston Food Bank, Houston Humane Society, or the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Over the course of three jam-packed days, 900 badges were scanned and over $4,500 was raised!

Here’s how that broke down for each charity:

$1,480.00 – to Houston Food Bank

$1,485.00 – to Houston Humane Society  

$1,535.00 – to Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund


Judging by people’s reactions, no one missed the keepsakes, and importantly, funds were directed where they are needed the most, and not towards a forgotten water bottle buried at the bottom of your bag. This means that not only did those in attendance leave with a greater awareness about emerging threats to their organizations – they also got to leave knowing that in some small way they had raised awareness and contributed to those in need in Houston.

If you would like to donate, we’ve hyperlinked the names of the charities above.

Kieran King is the SVP of Marketing at Skillsoft.

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