TRYING TO HACK IN

TRYING TO HACK IN — Students collaborate while participating in a computer-science challenge during a Hackathon in April 2018 at Stetson University.

Average expenditures on cybercrime are increasing dramatically, and security breaches are not only increasing but also increasing in severity. In fact, cybersecurity software and services company Symantec says malware attacks are up 200 percent, and cryptojacking attacks up by 8,500 percent.

WILLIAM SAUSE, Ph.D.

WILLIAM SAUSE, Ph.D.

Cryptojacking is using a malware program to mine data on the internet, searching in the background for cryptocurrencies while the unaware victim uses the computer normally, said William Sause, visiting assistant professor in Stetson University’s Department of Business Systems and Analytics. Cryptojacking malware is hard to detect and even harder to delete, he added.

Sause holds a Ph.D. in computer science and has nearly 20 years’ experience as a software engineer for Lockheed Martin, Raydon Corp. and McKesson Corp. He has completed research in the areas of software development, virtual reality, and more.

Since October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Sause provides three basic steps to help you stay cybersafe:

  • The first line of defense is creating strong passwords and being careful of the information shared online through social-media sites. Even seemingly harmless statements celebrating your birthday or anniversary, or mentioning the type of car you drive, can provide answers to password-reset questions.

  • Be aware of phishing emails. A good rule is to never click a link in an email requesting account information, even if it looks legitimate. Instead, log directly into the website of the institution using the https protocol, and make any necessary account changes from there.

  • Beware of malware. Malware can inadvertently be installed via email attachments as well as pop-up and banner ads, and captures keystrokes to obtain usernames, passwords, account numbers, and other sensitive information. It is important that users open only email attachments that are sent from known sources, enable pop-up and ad blockers within their web browsers, and browse only reputable websites.

Other tips from Sause include making sure antivirus software and the computer’s firewall are up to date.

It also wouldn’t hurt Windows users to change their download settings to alert them and get approval before any apps are installed, Sause said. Windows defaults to allowing automatic installation of all apps (Macs default to alerting the user to get approval).

Held every October, National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.

For instance, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is promoting NCSAM through its BusinesSafe newsletters for October. FDLE’s BusinesSafe initiative aims to educate business owners and individuals about potential threats and how to protect against them.

Among the program’s features are regularly scheduled emails addressing topics such as information technology, financial scams, ransomware, and safeguarding against terror threats. The newsletters include tips on how to avoid falling victim to trending scam types and how to safeguard your personal data online. More cybersecurity information for the public can be found at secureflorida.org/.

To sign up to receive BusinesSafe emails, visit www.fdle.state.fl.us/BusinesSAFE/Register-Now!.

For more on National Cyber Security Awareness Month, go to niccs.us-cert.gov/national-cybersecurity-awareness-month-2019.