Business leaders from across the region met Thursday for a cyber-awareness luncheon at the Batesville Aquatics and Community Center. Attendees heard from Chad Johnston, with the state’s office of Cybersecurtity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Chris Carter, special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Mark Kirby, cyber security advisor. Attendees were reminded of the importance of maintaining good “cyber hygiene” especially now with broadband coming to the region, parents and students embracing remote work and school, and smart technology connecting everything together.
Additionally, political tensions are fraught at the moment, which creates a window of opportunity for ransomware-attacks. Consumers may recall hearing about the Colonial Pipeline ransom ware attack in 2021 when hackers took over the computer systems of the pipeline.
The speakers urged businesses and individuals alike to improve their cyber security footprint with the three R’s: Risk, Resillence, and Return to Work.
“We ask business owners what their plan is if they were hit with a ransom ware attack tomorrow,” Kirby said.
The speakers encouraged tabletop exercises to rehearse worse-case scenarios, update software, segment networks (a mix of cloud and physical storage), train internet technology professionals, update those passwords, communicate to other business owners if there is a breach within a community.
“When it comes to passwords, length is better than complexity,” Carter said.
Johnston concluded the discussion with pointing out that while political turmoil may seem worlds away, Arkansas is prone to natural disasters such as tornados, as well as accidental or technical failures.
The world was given a crash course on how viruses spread when the novel coronavirus COVID-19 rapidly moved across the world in 2020. Biological viruses easily can spread from person to person, but computers can be afflicted by their own types of viruses that also can spread quickly.
Stopping computer viruses involves becoming familiar with just what they are and where viruses originate. According to Malwarebytes, a cybersecurity company, a computer virus requires a host program. It then requires user action to transmit that virus from one system to another. At that point, the virus attaches a bit of its own malicious code to other files or replaces files outright with copies of itself. Computer viruses do not generate naturally. They need to be created by programmers. These programmers may do so to steal victims’ identities, to get around restricted data, for bragging rights, or to damage organizations or competing businesses.
A virus, for example, may sit undetected on your computer monitoring online usage, recording credit card information, passwords or identity information, advises Interworks, a technology company. Most of the time viruses make entry to your computer or other device through attachments or links. Here are four common places viruses and malware lie in wait.
Downloading software, games, files, and other technology from the internet is not without risk. There are many reputable sites, but unknown downloads may carry viruses.
More than one device hooked up to a network means any computer on that network is vulnerable should one device pick up a virus. All connected computers can be compromised by one virus.
Computer How To Guide states that emails are one of the most common ways viruses are downloaded onto computers. Opening an email from someone you don’t know can trigger malware or a virus. Never click on a link or open an attachment from an unknown sender.
Apps that enable people to communicate through chat on desktop or mobile systems can be spreaders of viruses, too. Do not visit links posted in messaging applications unless you are sure they are from safe sites. Sometimes messenger services can be hacked, so even if links come from relatives or friends, verify those links before clicking on them. New viruses are being created daily and computers need protection. Good anti-virus programs can help, but computer users also need to do their part to avoid contracting viruses.