TECH SAFETY: How to protect yourself, devices from a cyber attack

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Right now there is a chance that your phone, email, and even baby monitor are being watched.

Cyber attacks are alive and well in the United States. In the past five years, more than 25 million Americans have become victims of identity theft.

Director of Armstrong State University’s Center for Applied Cyber Education Scott Scheidt says it’s not if you get hacked but when.

“If something has a camera on it or a microphone and it ever gets connected to a network, it can potentially be hijacked and or used for purposes that it was not attended for,” Scheidt says.

Nearly three-quarters of all Americans have become a victim of some sort of cyber attack.

Scheidt is also Chief of Cyber Mission Forces for the Georgia National Guard and says each time you used a device with an internet connection, a risk is involved.

“All that data goes somewhere and big data analytics is like the drooling diamond for nefarious actors but also organizations,” Scheidt says.

Whether for entertainment, financial, or professional, digital accounts and devices can be attacked.

Scheidt showed WSAV the real-time reality of watching unsecured web cameras through a site called insecam.org. You can see if your home, business or local city web cameras are secure by typing in location. He also took WSAV to shodan.io where consumers can check out every electronic Internet of Things device in the world, including their own watch, television and refrigerator.

Scheidt says in order to keep yourself safe, it starts with a change of mind.

“A new thing I like to comment for everyday citizenry is cyber hygiene. We’re lacking in cyber hygiene,” he said.

If you have a web cam on a laptop, Scheidt recommends covering, disabling, or dismantling it whenever it is not in use.

As for smart phones, he recommends taking as many safety precautions as possible.

“If there is an additional login capability either by finger print reader, or some that have the iris scanner,  you want to have as much of that stuff turned on as possible to make it harder for someone to just pick up your phone and able to access it,” Scheidt says.

For gaming systems, he recommends, as with social media accounts, to limit the amount of personal information someone would add to a profile or avatar.

“You can have a strong firewall, a strong security capability with the XBox on your side but the people’s he’s talking to playing with even though they’re friends only because you know them but you don’t know anything about the security of their network,” Scheidt said.

Scheidt says the risk for falling into a wifi hack is likely, especially when heading into a public place like an airport, mall or stadium.

“If you’re in a park and you’ve connected your device to that location’s wifi, and you’re doing a live stream those types of things can potentially be picked up on open source IP feeds,” Scheidt says.

Overall, keeping a strong and unique password with multiple letters and numbers is vital.

“When was the last time that you checked your child’s password and made sure it was the most secure structure, not just 1234ABC? The most common password is ‘password,'” he said.

Speaking on passwords, Scheidt also recommends people use whenever possible the two-step authentication process for an email address. According to Scheidt, accounts with Google are more likely to be secure than a Hotmail account.

Haveibeenpwned,com allows email users to see if their accounts have been compromised or hacked.

In an age where people are often sharing every bit of their information on social media and online platforms, Scheidt advises people to think before they post. He says, damage done by an attack can take years to undo.

“Yes, you are likely being watched and in some cases listened to depending to the devices that you’re around but awareness and education of yourself and your family is the biggest thing for everyday safety,” Scheidt said.

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