5 On Your Side

5 on Your Side: How to avoid becoming a cyberattack victim

Posted June 1, 2021 6:27 p.m. EDT

So much of our lives rely on our computers and networks, yet security is usually an afterthought.

Even after we experience the impact of a cyberattack, such as the gas shortage and maybe now an impact on the meat supply.

5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte spoke with a local expert about vulnerability and the simple way we can help protect against it.

"The internet is a very dirty place," said Richard Biever, Chief Information Security Officer at Duke University and Duke Health.

How dirty?

Consider this, Biever says Duke is hit with 12 million cyberattacks an hour.

"Roughly 60% to 70% of the emails that we get in are malicious in nature," said Biever. "We have roughly 64 million messages that were blocked, and keep in mind that you still are going to have stuff that gets through."

Countless companies face that same kind of daily fire power.

Biever says that's why network security has to be tight and employees have to be vigilant in following the message we've heard and seen so many times: think before you open attachments or click on links.

"We're about to shut down your account, please click on this link to verify your password, or it could be, `hey, we've attached this document here that this Excel spreadsheet with the salaries of people'," Biever offered as examples. "If you don't click on it, you don't get infected."

Biever says that's how ransomware often gets through.

"They (hackers) don't send an email and immediately encrypt the machine. They send the email that gains, if it's opened up, it gains them access to the machine and then from there they use other techniques to spread across the network and they infect as many systems or file storage systems as they can," explained Biever.

If you click on something at work, Biever says contact your IT representatives right away to contain the fallout as much as possible, and shut it down.

At home, shut down your computer to help stop the spread of any virus, and make sure you have any important documents backed up.

Biever also says invest in really good anti-virus protection at work and home because the threat constantly evolves.

"As soon as the defenders get really good at stopping what the attackers are doing, the attackers don't give up and go home, they switch tactics," he added.

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