Cybersecurity experts are planning a presentation Thursday to provide information and tips pertaining to the growing threat of online attacks as part of Innovate Pasadena’s 2021 “Connect Week” activities, organizers said.
“Cyber Attacks: Real World Examples and What You Can Learn” is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. online.
It will be hosted by Pasadena cybersecurity firm Btech President Lee Bird and E-Central Credit Union Vice President of Information Technology Dan Lentini, organizers said in a written statement. The two companies are presenting the event.
“The importance of cybersecurity grows every day with every new attack. Businesses, organizations, and individuals are under constant threats by cyber criminals,” according to the statement.
Enterprises large and small regularly fall victim to online attacks, most commonly in the form of “ransomware,” Bird said.
“All businesses, regardless of size, are extremely vulnerable,” he said. “We have seen cyberattacks like ransomware exploit a business for financial gain. We have also seen large-scale attacks against business and government where the attacker lays dormant solely for the purpose of gathering data.”
Online crooks seek to exploit vulnerabilities in today’s technology to carry out their attacks, Bird said.
“Vulnerabilities are deficiencies in software code, hardware configurations, or system misconfigurations. Almost all attacks are designed to exploit a known vulnerability that has not been corrected yet. This can be everything from a software patch, to default passwords being left on computer equipment,” he explained.
For that reason, it’s vital for businesses to create and maintain “a high-level of vulnerability hygiene,” Bird continued. This means frequent vulnerability scans and remediation work. We used to do this on an annual or quarterly basis. For many businesses, this has now become a daily task.”
The current top threat faced by businesses is ransomware, Bird said. And 96% of ransomware attacks depend on someone clicking on a link in an email sent by the hackers in a process known as “phishing.”
“Phishing emails are still the greatest risk. The No. 1 thing that any business owner can do to protect their environment is to create a ‘culture of awareness’ with their staff environment to recognize phishing email attacks,” he said.
“This can only be done through regular cyber-awareness training and frequent “phishing simulation” testing,” Bird said. “If you receive an email from someone that you don’t know, or aren’t expecting the email, delete it. If the email appears to be from someone you know, look for signs that it could be a phishing email — incorrect grammar, odd subject matter, etc.”
Lentini urged businesses to make sure their anti-virus and anti-malware software is up to date.
“If you are on the internet, then use a VPN, [or] virtual private network. Most service providers offer a plan that includes a VPN. The additional cost will be money well spent,” he said. “One of the big advantages of surfing the web through a VPN is that it masks your true location making it more difficult for individuals trying to target you or your family.”
Business owners don’t need to become computer experts to avoid becoming victims, but they should familiarize themselves with threats and take steps to protect their information, Lentini said.
Staying safe online is “more about practicing good habits and less about understanding technology,” he added.
“Be mindful of not using the same password with all your online accounts. I also recommend that you change them regularly and, of course, never share them,”according to Lentini.
“Most successful ransomware attacks are from a person clicking on a link embedded in an email, so know who is sending the email and why. The best practice is never click on any link regardless even if you are reasonably sure you know the source,” he said. “Always verify who you are speaking with on the phone or communicating in text or email. It’s unfortunate, but this is the world we live in today.”
More information on the event, including a link to reserve a spot, can be found online at innovatepasadena.org/events/cyber-attacks-real-world-examples-and-what-you-can-learn.
More information on Innovate Pasadena’s Connect Week is available at connectpasadena.com.