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Michigan experts on protecting yourself from cyberthreats

Michigan experts on protecting yourself from cyberthreats
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 10:41 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2022 at 11:10 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As more and more sanctions are put on Russia, the more desperate they’re likely to become.

Security experts are warning Americans to be aware of cybersecurity threats as Russia attempts to gain some footing.

Related: US, Britain accuse Russia of cyberattacks targeting Ukraine

Most of us have seen our fair share of spam emails and text messages, but many don’t realize some of those links could be sent by Russian hackers trying to gain access to important information.

“There is a likelihood that a Russian organization could go after low level employees as a means to getting them to execute ransomware or gain a foothold inside of an organization,” said Thomas Holt.

Holt, a Michigan State University Criminal Justice professor, said the threat of Russian cyber attacks are real. He said the easiest way for them to sneak past their firewalls are through their employees clicking on links in their emails or navigating to third party website. This is something Michael McDaniel -- who used to work in the Pentagon -- can confirm has already been happening.

“Just a few weeks ago -- prior to the invasion -- there was hackers doing phishing attempts to get email addresses for employees of different energy companies in the United States, including Chevron, pipeline and production companies as well,” McDaniel said.

The most jarring realization is they could even go after infrastructure -- like water, sewer and electrical systems.

“The Russian and Chinese military hacking units that are out there and intelligence agencies have mapped our critical infrastructure to some degree,” Holt said. “It’s the first thing you do to understand how you might attack a target is to know what’s there. The more that the vice tightens around Russia, that’s when we might expect cyberattacks to occur that we, as average people, would notice.”

“There’s a vulnerability there that companies have to be aware of and employees have to be aware of,” McDaniel said. “If you’re getting an email from somebody you don’t recognize, just don’t even open it.”

McDaniel said the Department of Homeland Security is trying to stay on top of the issue, but he encourages companies of all sizes to take caution.

Experts said you should keep your phone and computer updated because those updates offer a barrier of protection.

For business owners who want more information on how to stay safe, visit the official Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s website here.

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