Cybersecurity tips as the war in Ukraine goes digital

The war on the ground in Ukraine is going digital.
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 8:24 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The war on the ground in Ukraine is going digital. President Biden is warning U.S. companies that Russian hackers are coming for them next, but a local expert says it’s already happening.

“At least a portion of it is like the Wild West,” said Eric Hart, with NPI Technology Management, a South Burlington IT firm. Hart says while it’s hard to be a hacker in America, it’s much easier in Russia. And the hacking comes in two parts, one focuses on military defense systems. “The other is kind of a Wild West of ransomware providers and gangs kind of operating in an eco-system in Russian, and the neighboring former Soviet states and are tolerated and even encouraged by the Russian government.”

Despite increased warnings now, Hart says it’s nothing new and can disrupt everyday life. ”It’s the predominant source of ransomware attacks and we saw the attacks at the UVM Medical Center and other businesses in Vermont over the past year, so this is not an entirely new phenomenon,” he said.

Hart calls it a misconception that only large or certain companies are targets. “We see manufacturing, for example, construction industries that maybe aren’t as up to date in terms of their cybersecurity programs and awareness really are low-hanging fruit for these hackers, and so they are attacked at a high rate,” he said.

To protect your company, Hart says it’s important to do these things:

  • Take security measures, like making sure your software is up to date.
  • Store your data on a backup system that hackers can’t get.
  • Protect your passwords and use superior anti-virus software.
  • And run employees through trainings.

“Then they are implementing, or putting together, incident response plans or data response plans, which are basically plans for what you do in case something bad happens,” said Hart.

Here’s what hackers get out of this -- they hold data hostage until they get money or they blackmail a company in return for not going public with information.

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