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Video: Security tips to protect against cyberattacks

Mar 28, 2022 06:24AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

Cybersecurity experts say one of the best ways to protect devices and accounts is to run updates. Photo: WDIO-TV

Baihly Warfield from WDIO-TV • March 25, 2022

Last week, President Joe Biden warned CEOs of businesses to be prepared for cyberattacks. "Based on evolving intelligence, Russia may be planning a cyberattack against us," he said. "The magnitude of Russia's cyber capacity is fairly consequential. And it's coming." 

Cybersecurity is top-of-mind for many IT and computer science professionals. They say there are things we can do on an individual level to protect our personal devices and accounts. 

Peter Peterson is an assistant professor of computer science at UMD. Right now, he's researching misconceptions people have related to security. He said one that keeps coming up is the assumption "I am not a target." 

"People should definitely understand that even if they're not 'important,' they definitely are still targets," he said. 

According to Peterson, that's because most attacks are automated, not targeted. 

"So if your computer is vulnerable, you're likely to get compromised," he said, "because there's some computer on the internet somewhere that's trying to compromise every machine that's vulnerable." 

He and Josh Waring, a security analyst for UWS, shared the top things people can do to make themselves less vulnerable. 

The first tip is to always run updates. 

"Those software updates are typically in response to vulnerabilities that the software companies know about that haven't been made public yet," Peterson said. 

Once hackers find out about the vulnerabilities, they'll immediately start using them, and you won't be protected if you haven't run the update. 

The second tip is to have strong passwords and never reuse them. If one is leaked, bad actors can try to access other accounts. 

"However strong that password is, at that point, it doesn't matter. It's been breached," Waring said. 

Peterson recommends using a password manager such as LastPass or another program that creates and remembers unique passwords for all of your accounts. 

Third, turn on two-factor authentication. Peterson says there are three ways to log in to something. 

"It can be something that you know, and that's a password, a secret that you know. It can be something that you have, like a key or your phone that you use to say, 'I'm me.' Or it can be something that you are, like a biometric, a fingerprint or iris scan or face print or something like that," he said. 

Two-factor authentication requires the password you know combined with one of the other two options. "It does cause a little bit more inconvenience, but the security it provides is very important," Waring said. "And we're starting to see more and more common applications and services adopt the two-factor authentication and making it easy for users." 

You also should be wary about clicking on email attachments or downloading things from a sketchy website as those can contain malware.

There isn't a sure-fire way to know if an account or device has been compromised, so Waring and Peterson suggest checking on your past log-ins to make sure they were all in your location, and monitoring for things that are out of place or messages you didn't send. 

Some things will be out of your control, but taking all the steps you can will help protect your data. 

"Don't lose sleep over it," Peterson said. "But do what you can."

To see the original story and read related articles, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.

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