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Amid concerns on Russian cyberattacks, experts offer tips to keep your data safe

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Posted at 5:04 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 08:26:44-04

As President Joe Biden warns Americans that Russia could target U.S. companies through cyberattacks, there are steps people should take to keep their information away from prying eyes.

Lillie Conrad, a data privacy and cybersecurity attorney at Godfrey & Kahn, said there's a heightened sense of urgency to protect important information amid ongoing cyber threats.

"It can be an inconvenience of a day or two, or you can be shut down for a couple months," Conrad said.

Conrad spoke Wednesday afternoon at a Women In Technology Wisconsin virtual event, where she discussed the current cyber threat landscape alongside one of her colleagues.

"We continue to see a fair amount of ransomware, email compromise and wire fraud as some of the top issues," Conrad said.

She said people need to be vigilant as cyber threats continue.

"Making sure that things you might have been putting on the back burner, such as updating software or getting multi-factor authentication in place, those really should be coming to the forefront," Conrad said. "And ensuring your cybersecurity team and cybersecurity program are getting the funding and the attention they need."

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has a display that shows live cyber threats happening across the world in real-time.

"A new kind of attack vector is something called "vishing," and that's with voice," said Ryan Van Scyoc, NWTC IT systems and security instructor. "So that would be on the telephone: Somebody calls you and tries to get information."

To keep your information safe, Scyoc said people should create strong and secure passwords that are unique. He said passwords should have at least 15 characters with a combination of upper and lowercase letters and numbers.

Scyoc said phishing schemes are one of the top ways hackers get people's information online. He said people should be aware of suspicious emails from unfamiliar senders and should never click on links.

Updating devices is another way to keep data in the right hands.

“The latest updates are always going to patch some of these zero-days vulnerabilities, or maybe vulnerabilities that are new and the patches just came out," Scyoc said. "So always making sure that you’re updated and having an active anti-virus software.”

Conrad added only employees that need to have access to certain information should be able to get to it in order to help limit vulnerabilities.

If a business is the victim of a breach, Conrad said they should contact their cybersecurity insurance carrier and legal counsel immediately.