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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As war rages on in Ukraine, concerns that the U.S. could come under attack are rising. The battlefield however would be online.
Chaos continues on the ground in Ukraine this week after a missile strike targeted a TV tower. Explosive weaponry isn’t the only way Russia is fighting its neighbor, though. The Kremlin has targeted banks and energy sectors digitally.
“I’m not surprised that a portion of this war is being fought in a cyber-battlefield,” said Mark Lanterman, chief technology officer for Computer Forensic Services.
What would a cyberattack on the U.S. look like?
“What we need to be concerned about is cyberattacks against our power grid, against our water processing plants, against our hospitals, our banks, news media,” Lanterman said.
All of that critical infrastructure is connected to networks and could be vulnerable. It happened in 2021 when Russians hacked the Colonial Pipeline, creating a brief gas shortage in the southeast that had drivers scrambling to fill up while also grounding flights.
“What that taught us is that there is no such thing as perfect security, and we can’t be so arrogant as to think it won’t happen to us,” Lanterman said.
Xcel Energy tells WCCO it is closely monitoring potential threats to its grid connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that protecting its system from cyber and physical attacks is a top priority.
How can the average person prepare for a cyberattack?
“We have to take responsibility for our own security,” Lanterman said.
Here’s a few tips he shared to better secure your private information online:
– Have a unique username or password for all websites that require one.
– Disable location services and Bluetooth on your phone or laptop when not needed.
– Regularly update your phone and computer.
– Think before your click.
“All it takes is a hacker to trick a business owner into clicking on a link in an email, downloading ransomware, encrypting all of that business’ data,” Lanterman said. “It’s gonna spread throughout the network.”
Another idea is to avoid using public Wi-Fi. Lanterman said cyberattacks have occurred on public Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops and libraries. He suggests using your mobile hotspot on your phone in those locations.
Late last month, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned businesses and organizations to prepare for potential cyberattacks. CISA at the time said there was no specific, credible threat, however it wants them to be prepared. It advised them to enable strong spam filters to prevent phishing emails from reaching users, update software, and to have antivirus/antimalware software conduct regular scans.
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