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Cyber security a constant fight and OTC hopes to help prepare soldiers for the war on hackers

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:07 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - In many ways the growing problem of cyber security is like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both are an enemy we can’t see that is growing every day.

But one area school is hoping to train more people to help fight it.

From the nation’s largest fuel pipeline to the world’s largest meat processor, you’re hearing more and more about cyber-attacks and Ransomware.

This electronic pandemic hit 560 U.S. healthcare facilities in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s going on all around us.

“Every second of every day there are attempts,” said Dr. Matt Hudson, the Executive Dean of Career, Technical and Community Development at Ozarks Technical Community College. “So there’s understandably a reason to be concerned because you seem to hear about these things frequently and they’re not from a specific company. It’s retail. It’s medical. It’s our infrastructure.”

Dr. Hudson oversees the new cyber security program that starts this fall in OTC and will eventually be housed in a new building, the Plaster Manufacturing Center, in 2022.

When students complete the Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security they can enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year institution and go on to get a bachelor’s degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for a cyber security professional in Missouri is over $90,000 and the training falls into two main areas.

“You’ve got a team that needs to be in place to respond to a crisis that might be coming to you from a cyber security attack,” Hudson explained. “But the other layer is to try and be prepared by planning and keeping your protections in place.”

The growth of Ransomware is a major contributor to the need for more experts to fight hackers who take over a company’s electronic operations and hold it for ransom.

“When they ask for the ransom it’s typically in a digital currency of some kind so the dollars are not traceable,” Hudson said.

While hackers mainly attack larger companies when demanding a ransom the average person can still be affected because of the trickle-down-effect.

“We’ve had a public health crisis for the last year and now if you’ve tried to order anything the supply chain has been significantly interrupted,” Hudson said. “There’s no difference if there’s a security breach on something such as the pipeline where it shut down. The distribution of that product impacts the consumer.”

And while a hacker may not be demanding a ransom from you, we’re all susceptible to hackers stealing money and information by raiding our electronic accounts.

“When you’re opening a new account try and use passwords that are strong,” Hudson advised. “Ask questions why the company is asking you for information if you’re unclear. If they have a need to know, you need to know why they need to know. And I also would encourage people to do what I call two-factor-authentication. That’s where you put a password on something but also get a text message (sent back to you) or other way to identify that it’s you when you’re trying to access the system.”

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