TAMPA, Florida. – As the conflict on the ground continues to escalate, Russian and Ukrainian hackers are waging a cyberwar that could have implications in other parts of the globe.
The Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has released guidance for businesses and other organizations on how to protect themselves from hackers, but data breaches could also leave Americans vulnerable.
Cyber experts say they don’t expect an attack on US infrastructure, but warn now is the time to double-check your online security protocols.
“Now that we are witnessing heightened tensions, there has never been a better time to check in and be more vigilant,” said Ron Sanders, staff director for the Florida Center of Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida. “Look at your passwords, make sure they’re strong, and get rid of old ones that may have been sold somewhere on the dark web. Look at multi-factor authentication and do all those things from cyber hygiene that we normally should be doing but probably not.”
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Multi-factor authentication, also known as two-factor or two-step, is the top recommendation from cybersecurity experts. The system uses your password along with an additional step, such as entering a text code, opening a separate app, FaceID scan, or answering a security question, to confirm your identity.
This is something you will usually have to configure yourself. Experts recommend opting for multi-factor authentication whenever possible, especially for online banking, social media, business accounts, and email.
According to CISA, multi-factor authentication makes an account 99% less likely to be hacked.
Over the past decade, hackers have managed to carry out massive attacks against businesses, institutions, and organizations large and small. Using a website like HaveIBeenPWNed.com can show how many times your usernames, passwords, and personal information have been stolen through breaches.
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Passwords should be updated regularly and never used across multiple sites. CISA recommends passwords that are at least 15 characters and randomly generated by a computer or password manager.
Experts also warn that with war and a growing humanitarian crisis, everyone should be especially vigilant against phishing scams.
“Phishing attacks asking for help or money, financial help for Ukrainians. We need to be careful of these kinds of indirect attacks,” said Alper Yayla, associate professor of cybersecurity at the University of Tampa. .
Which means watching what you click. According to CISA, 90% of successful cyberattacks start with a phishing link, which can be sent via email, direct message on a social media platform, or text message to your phone.
FILE – A message asking for money from a virus-hacked computer is displayed on a computer in a file image taken June 27, 2017. (Photo by Donat SorokinTASS via Getty Images)
Phishing scams have become increasingly advanced over the years. Posts with links or attachments may appear to be from people or businesses you know.
“If someone sends you something that doesn’t seem right, call them and ask if they really sent it to you,” said Benny Czarny, CEO of OPSWAT, a global cybersecurity company based in Tampa. “Prevention is always better than cure. It’s always better to try to protect yourself.”
Keeping up with the latest software updates for your phone, browsers, and apps will also protect you from system vulnerabilities.
To learn more about recommended cybersecurity, visit https://www.cisa.gov/4-things-you-can-do-keep-yourself-cyber-safe