The Russian aggression toward Ukraine may seem too far away to have any effect on everyday Americans, but the FBI’s Cyber Division released a report this week saying we should all be on our toes. Historically, when Russia faces adversity (in this case, sanctions and international condemnation) their first inclination is to launch cyberattacks.
Experts say that the Russians are likely to rely on go-to tactics like spear-phishing and brute force attacks and more covert attacks using social media to amplify disinformation and make sharing of those false facts as easy as clicking Share.
Here’s how to tighten up your security to avoid being a victim of a Russian attack:
- Update your passwords – The best way to avoid a brute force attack is to make your passwords tough to guess and different from your passwords on other sites. If you are able to implement multi-factor authentication, do that.
- Update your antivirus software – We always say it, and we always mean it! This is a simple and cheap way to keep hackers at bay—but only if your solutions are current and patched.
- Don’t “Click here” – If you receive an email (or a text) from an unknown source asking you to click a link or download a file for more information, don’t. These spearfishing expeditions often look like they come from legitimate sources, so be wary; hover over links and email addresses to see where they are really coming from and in most cases, just delete the message (and notify your security officer if on a work machine).
- Have a backup plan – Hackers are likely to target critical infrastructure like healthcare, transit, and energy so try to think a few steps ahead. Back up your medical records to the cloud and make sure you’re stocked up on prescriptions. Keep at least a half a tank of gas in your car at all times.
- Keep your eyes open on social media – Research stories (especially ones with an obvious bias) before sharing them through social media. Often, these stories are made up out of thin air and have no purpose other than to ramp up tensions and increase divide among populations.
Russia (and its bots) has a mission at this point: Sow the seeds of discontent and manufacture panic. Take a deep breath and do your part to protect yourself by preparing for the worst, staying vigilant, and not believing everything you read!