DirectLink Aims to Help Protect Members Online with New Cybersecurity Program

DirectLink, Canby and Mount Angel’s local, member-based cooperative provider of internet and telecommunication services, is aiming to help users stay safe online with a new, complimentary cybersecurity product from Cisco: Umbrella Defense.

The history of cybersecurity is one as long as that of the internet itself — literally. When the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, better known as ARPANET, the earliest precursor of what would become the internet, first came online in the 1970s, it wasn’t long before people learned it could be exploited.

Fortunately, the first computer virus was not developed by a criminal or other bad actor, but by Bob Thomas, a computer engineer at the research and development company BBN. In 1971, he wrote a self-replicating piece of code designed to move between computers via ARPANET.

He called his creation Creeper, and its only effect on the systems it “infected” was to cause them to print the message, “I’M THE CREEPER. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!”

Another programmer, Ray Tomlinson, who would later gain fame for his development of email, accepted that challenge by writing the world’s first antivirus software, Reaper, which was designed to chase and delete Creeper wherever it could be found.

Not surprisingly, things have gotten a little more sophisticated since then. Supercharged by the pandemic, which saw cybercrime increase by more than 600% worldwide, the annual cost of such attacks is estimated to be $6 trillion per year — a figure equivalent to 1% of the global GDP.

The majority of cyber attacks are targeted at small and midsized businesses, with more than two-thirds of small businesses in the United States reporting at least one incident between 2018 and 2020. The average organization sees 130 breaches per year.

With cybercrime so prevalent, and the stakes so high, it’s little wonder that cybersecurity is a top priority for internet service providers like DirectLink.

“Cybersecurity has been an issue as long as people have been using personal computers, and DirectLink takes that very seriously,” Director of Marketing Brian Strunk explained. “All of our employees go through regular cybersecurity training because there are so many creative ways to exploit weaknesses in networks.

“Whether it’s through social engineering, malware, spyware, ransomware or other threats, as a service provider, these are all things that we deal with and work hard to educate our community about so that they can protect themselves as well.”

While DirectLink has regularly offered community classes on issues like cybersecurity and how to keep your data and systems safe online, Strunk says the company also wanted to give members tools with which to defend themselves.

To that end, DirectLink last year invested in a new cybersecurity solution Umbrella Defense: a complimentary, all-inclusive service for every member with internet service.

Umbrella Defense works behind the scenes — without slowing down devices — to stop subscribers from accidentally visiting known websites that may contain malware, phishing, ransomware or other threats.

In just one month shortly after implementation, Umbrella Defense prevented over 300,000 requests from nearly 4,500 different origins from reaching DirectLink members. Most of these blocked sites contained malware.

Example of what a user may see when a potentially harmful website is blocked by the new DirectLink Umbrella Defense.

This broad-spectrum protection works on computers, smartphones, tablets and other connected devices and is automatically operational for all users in a location where a DirectLink internet service is activated — including those using the free wifi connections in Canby parks.

The Umbrella Defense system is also upgraded with ongoing intelligence updates to help uncover current and emerging phishing and malware threats earlier than other security programs.

More information about cybersecurity and ways that DirectLink works to keep its members and their information secure is available on the cooperative’s website at

If you have questions or need to report something to DirectLink, call 503-266-8111 (Canby) or 503-845-2291 (Mount Angel), or email

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