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Protecting yourself from cyber attacks

Posted at 10:08 AM, Apr 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-20 10:08:00-04

It can be a wake-up call to strengthen your cybersecurity when someone attacks your internet network. Mid-Michigan is seeing more and more cases-- including one at the Ingham Intermediate School District in February 2017.

FOX 47's Alani Letang talked to the FBI about the internet hack called ransomware.  Federal agents told Letang that cyber attacks on a business' internet network are complex, and attackers often times disguise themselves in emails. And so many workers open up those emails without even hesitating. 

"You press on that link there is just the potential of that opening up a tool that can start moving and taking over your network," said Kenneth Lavictoire, Supervisory Senior Resident FBI Agent in Grand Rapids.

Kenneth Lavictoire told Letang these cyber attacks ---although fewer occur--- are sophisticated. This is because of the amount of finesse it takes to disguise and then scam someone into opening up a link that could take down entire servers for hours at a time.

He said attacker do it for the money, "some people while they're very talented if they would focus that effort and that energy on their job they would be very successful. And some people it's reputation. The more sophisticated you are the higher you rise in that society."

Lavictoire said cyber attacks are similar to prank phone calls when a person uses an unrecognizable phone number. And now to catch a hacker a trained investigator must follow the breadcrumbs to find the originator.

"You're trying to do criminal activities so you come up with a fake cell phone number but there are still ways even through a legal process, authority, through a court. You can usually go back and say 'this organization, I really need to know who developed this number or who had this IP address.' You just have to work your way back to the original source." Lavictoire explained.

Cyber attack is an umbrella term that might prevent your website from working or to gain information and through that you have ransomware.

Lavictoire said, "the ransomware says 'I just locked your computer and if you want access to your data you need to pay me $1,000"

Like how Lansing's Board of Water and Light paid $25,000 in ransom after a 2016 cyber attack.
Lavictoire said that its best for businesses to have a full-time personnel that will monitor cyberactivity or to install protective software.

"You have to have at least personally some sort of protection software that will scan malware programs before you open them," said Lavictoire.

The FBI also recommends backing up files off-site completely removed from all servers. That way you are not in a position to pay ransom or have a data breach.

The FBI also said you should never pay a ransom if one is demanded.