Midstate cybersecurity experts explain latest attacks and how to prevent them

Tech

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Cyber attacks are on the rise since the start of the pandemic and school districts and universities are falling victim as well.

Over 400 schools reported cyber attacks last year. Four years before, there were fewer than 100 reports.

cyberconIQ in York City deals with the aftermath of cyber attacks on a daily basis.

CEO Dr. James Norrie says attacks have been on the rise as scammers operate outside of U.S. laws.

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“So if you had a crime and no consequences, we can only expect that the rates of these crimes will continue to intensify in both volume and complexity,” Norie said.

And it’s not just big companies that are targeted.

“It’s a common myth that small companies aren’t targeted but they are and they can quickly become victims because sometimes they don’t have the same protections in places like a large enterprise, corporation or government has. We’re clearly in back-to-school season and parents and students should all be aware that school districts are in fact the number one targeted part of our government now. So last year, in the last quarter of last year, more than 50% of the attacks were on school districts,” Dr. Norrie said.

Bruce Young, a professor of cybersecurity at Harrisburg University says cyber attacks have increased by about 700% since the pandemic.

Young says many organizations are turning to prevention.

“A thing that organizations are doing because it’s extremely cost-effective is referred to as security awareness and training,” Young said.

While security controls are in place: “Threat protection is the ability to detect incidents of compromise or malware. And the types of attacks you would see coming through the perimeter which is usually your gateway to the internet,” Young said.

Young says phishing is one of the greatest attack methods and is used to steal user data, but there are ways to prevent you or your organization from falling victim.

“Being able to be vigilant when you’re opening email and what email you view and click on links that you receive, today just being vigilant and not opening everything you receive,” Young said.

Earlier this year, a group of technology and education groups petitioned the FCC to invest in cybersecurity protections for the nation’s K-12 public schools. The estimated cost to stop school hackers would be over $2 billion.

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