Cybersecurity tips from an FBI agent

By Chip Chapman, RCDD, President of Integrated Building Systems

Read the news any given day and I’ll bet you’ll find at least one story about a data leak, identity theft, or some other form of cyber crime.

As a technology professional, a business owner, and someone who uses online accounts to manage nearly all of my personal business, I’m definitely concerned about online security. That’s why I recently attended the “Cybersecurity 101: Current trends & what you need to know” seminar hosted by EasyIT, FirstMerit Bank, Taft Stettinius & Hollister, and Rea & Associates.

The event’s speaker, FBI Agent David Fine, addressed the fact that every day, more companies fall victim to attacks on their data and IT systems, and not all companies are able to survive them. Here are key takeaways from his presentation:

Trends in Cyber Attacks

  1. Ransomware: Cyber criminals are getting more sophisticated, especially when it comes to spearfishing. Let’s say someone at your office clicks on a link in a seemingly trustworthy email. In the past, that click probably just exposed that individual computer and its data to attack. Today, spearfishers have figured out how to invade not just the individual user’s computer but any network attached to it—and even worse, the backup of that network, if the user has administrative rights or access to it.

  2. Autoresponder tracking: David said that criminal minds will link an autoresponder like “I’m out of the office until…” with social media posts like “heading to a trade show in Vegas” to target victims.

  3. Account management: When you set up online accounts, what’s the one thing every site asks? Your mother’s maiden name. Don’t use it. David said he asks his daughter to choose several random, easy-to-remember words that he uses instead, like “taco.”

IT To-Do List

  1. Remind everyone at your organization to be on the lookout for spearfishing emails. Think before you click!

  2. Update your passwords for online accounts. Resist human nature—do not use easy-to-find information like mother’s maiden name to set up accounts.

  3. Set up your autoresponder so that the message only goes to people on your contact list.

  4. Work with your IT provider on a secure backup plan for mission-critical data, including online and offline strategies.

IT Referrals

At Integrated Building Systems, our goal is to help clients make wise investments in technology. If you have concerns about cyber security or need an IT service provider, contact us and we’d be happy to offer personal referrals to great local companies.