A client wrote me recently, concerned about news stories stating the Department of Homeland Security had issued a warning that Iran could be launching a cyberattack against the United States, one that could possibly disrupt critical infrastructure. She wondered, what should regular computer and Internet users do to protect themselves?
Do you want to know how to stay safe on the Internet? Come take my free, one-night Internet safety crash-course "Fight The Internet Bad Guys & Win!" and in one night, you will learn the answers to being Internet safe. Visit the new Norman Public Library Central location at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and prepare to be amazed.
Everyone from kids to grandparents needs to know: why do computers need updates? How do I use my antivirus program? What makes a good password? How do I pick security questions? What is a "browser," and which one should I use? How can I know which websites are safe? How can I identify scam emails? How do I "clean" my computer?
How can I know if my Wi-Fi is safe? How do online con artists trick so many people? The world needs your help. Safer people make a safer Internet. Bring your friends, your parents, your kids, your co-workers, your boss, everyone you know, young and old. Class begins at 6:30 p.m., and is sponsored by McClain Bank, Michael Monroe Allstate Insurance, The Norman Transcript and the The Pioneer Library System.
Cyberattacks from other nations are a real and credible threat. They happen thousands of times every day. Despite what you may think, the Department of Homeland Security doesn't just issue warnings willy-nilly without good reasons for doing so. First, though, it is good to understand what a "cyberattack" actually is, and who the bad guys are targeting, in the first place. In its general usage, a "cyber" attack is activity using computers and the Internet to cause harm. So-called "nation states" like Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and the United States have been "cyberattacking" each other like crazy for many years. Usually, these attacks are directed at government and military installations, as well as "infrastructure" entities like power companies and public utilities. Sometimes, nation-states cyberattack large companies and corporations.
Organized crime cartels engage in massive cyberattacks, too, but they are not seeking military dominance or political power. Instead, they are only interested in one thing: money. As such, they will and do attack anyone and everyone on the Internet, all the way from giant government installations down to Mom-and-Pop email users and Netflix watchers. As long as there is money to be made, they don't care who they go after.
Whether it's online political warfare between nations, or Internet theft and robbery, cyberattacks usually succeed using one or both of two methods:
1) invading poorly maintained computers with lousy security, or,
2) tricking and deceiving people into giving up information and opening the doors so the bad guys can just waltz right in.
Attack One is often called "hacking." Attack Two is more like cyber-sleight-of-hand con man trickery, without much real "hacking" going on, at all. It's like the difference between skillfully picking a lock, or skillfully tricking the lock's owner into handing over the key.
The defenses against cyberattacks are essentially the same, too, whether defending against nut-jobs with a political agenda, or Internet crooks determined to rob you blind.
Attack One is often deployed by testing for computers and online accounts that have not been updated, or that have been poorly setup and configured. Attack Two is based largely on fake emails, bogus websites, and sketchy social networking scenarios.
Learning how Internet safety works has never been more important. Come to Norman Public Library Central location at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and find out why. Visit internetsafetygroup.com for more information. Contact the Library at 701-2600 to register.
Dave Moore has been fixing computers in Oklahoma since 1984. Founder of the nonprofit Internet Safety Group Ltd., he also teaches Internet safety community training workshops. He can be reached at 919-9901 or internetsafetygroup.com.