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Springfield Police share ways to protect yourself from cyberattacks; US warns of growing threats

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 9:36 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine have heightened the risk of cyberattacks.

Top U.S. officials say businesses could be the most vulnerable.

There are a few simple things you should always keep in mind, whether you are using a computer, phone or other device. Protecting information from any hacker often starts with strong passwords. Experts say passwords should contain at least 12 characters. They also say passwords should include uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters.

“In those passwords, you don’t want to use words that are really important to you,” said Springfield Police Public Affairs Officer Cris Swaters. “Things like your birthday, your pet’s name, your favorite sports team. Things like that can help people crack your password easier.”

It’s also important to mix things up.

”You never want to use the same password for all of your accounts,” Swaters said. “So the password that you use for your Facebook should be different than what you use for your Twitter or your Snapchat or your bank accounts.”

Two factor authentication offers an extra layer of protection whenever it is offered.

”A lot of those two factor authentications usually require your cell phone,” Swaters described. “They’ll send you a text if there’s an unknown access to your account. That helps you verify that for sure you were the one who tried to access the account that you’re logging into.”

Beyond passwords, software updates are key. Those can ensure the latest patches and fixes. And don’t forget to backup your devices.

”Backing up your devices, whether it’s a computer or a mobile device is always recommended,” Swaters said. “So even if it’s not because of a cyber security breach, you could drop your phone in water today and you’ve lost all your photos.”

You can also look into purchasing cyber insurance.

“Individuals can purchase those personal cyber insurance policies as well as identity theft protection through various retailers,” Swaters described. “And that is always a recommendation and a great practice to have.”

You should also be cautious with suspicious or unfamiliar emails.

“If you get an email that you’re not expecting, and it has an attachment or a link that you can’t verify, don’t click it,” Swaters said. “That is how you give criminals access to your data. Those are phishing attempts, and that’s not something you want to click on.

SPD says it can sometimes be difficult to track down hackers, but it is still important to report an incident if it ever happens to you.

”Cyber attacks come from all over the world,” Swaters said. “And they can be hard to track down, but even if you are a victim, let us know. File a report. And that always helps us aggregate data.”

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