UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR) — The May 7 ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline renewed national attention to the importance of cybersecurity as one of the nation’s largest pipelines was forced to pay $5 million to its attackers to get access back to their systems.
The attack brought further light on how vulnerable people and businesses are to cyberattacks, but there are ways local businesses and residents can protect themselves and their data.
“Individuals can protect themselves by really scrutinizing communications and requests for sensitive information and double-checking on an email and ensuring it really came from someone,” explains Tony Martino, the Director at Northeast Cyber Forensics Center at Utica College. “You need to ensure that the entities you are doing business with are reputable, use big websites run by companies that are well known that have robust security policies in place.”
Last week, a malware attack at RPI shut down the school’s servers and disrupted finals. Students and faculty lost access to their emails, the school’s websites, dining dollars, and wifi accounts. Martino says that ransomware attacks are becoming more and more common, and they are happening in our backyards.
“There are certainly entities in our region who have had ransomware attacks and other cybersecurity attacks,” Martino said. “We are not immune to this in any way, shape, or form.”
Martino also explained that the most common mistakes made by individuals are responding to fraudulent emails texts and phone calls. “Those fraudulent communications try to push people into acting quickly there’s often a sense of urgency and a threat of negative consequences if they don’t and that’s where so many people make mistakes.”