Why We Need to Wake Up and Acknowledge the Cyber Threat
John Caruthers, FBI Supervisory Special Agent in San Diego’s cybersecurity division and CCOE board advisor, recently gave a TEDx talk instructing how to protect ourselves and our businesses against the hackers he calls “Cyber Tigers” hunting us online.
Data in hacked records such as in the Equifax breach is gold to hackers, and breaches can occur by something as simple as not patching servers on a timely basis. In 2015, Chinese government cyber tigers hacked OPM, the agency that holds background investigations for everyone in the country with a top-secret clearance, gaining access to 22 million unencrypted records. Most people don’t hold secret government information on their personal computers (or they shouldn’t!), so you’re probably safe from these types of cyber tigers.
You’re not safe from the cyber tigers profiting from personal information, such as new homebuyers emailing wire instructions to a cyber tiger posing as the title company. The spoofed company can’t do anything to help when this happens, the homebuyers lose trust in the system and the cyber tiger runs free.
Cybersecurity Tips for Taming the Tigers in an Online World
Demand That Third-Party Companies Vigilantly Safeguard Our Personal Information By:
- Patching servers on a timely basis
- Segmenting networks and using VLANs
- Monitoring networks
- Configuring firewalls properly
- Using virtual private networks for remote users
- Encrypting our data at rest and on the fly
Increase Your Personal and Business Cybersecurity
- Stop using open Wi-Fi networks for sensitive web browsing
- Stop opening email attachments of “cute puppies surfing squirrels” from unknown senders
- Stop using the same password for Facebook, online banking and other sites
- Start educating yourselves about the risks
- Start using two-factor authentication whenever possible
- Start talking to cyber industry experts
As a society, we need to start “developing a thirst for cybersecurity awareness on behalf of our nation” much like the road leading to seatbelt regulation for auto safety.