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Gone Phishing: UAB Expert Offers Five Ways To Prevent Cyberattacks


Post by Eric-Lamar Burts from Alabama NewsCenter

When it comes to hackers’ attempting to access unauthorized information stored on computers or networks, anyone is susceptible. Cybint research found that 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error.

“Everywhere you look, you see the media talking about recent cyberattacks,” said UAB’s Jeffery Walker, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Criminal Justice. “While most of these do not target individuals, you may be a target if you are a part of a company.”

Walker shares five tips people and companies can take to prevent a cyberattack.


Watch out for clickbait

Often, people fall prey to phishing attacks – fraudulent communications that appear to come from reputable sources – aimed at stealing sensitive data, such as bank information, or installing malicious malware on a victim’s electronic device.

Walker said not to click on links sent from unknown contacts or those from a known contact that seem suspicious.


Always back up your hard drive

On average, only 5% of companies’ computer folders are properly protected. Different systems have several steps to back up the system.

Some 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. (Getty Images)

“You never know when you accidentally could get hacked,” Walker said. “It would help if you had recent backups to restore your system if it gets corrupted.”

To learn more about UAB’s digital forensics program, contact Martha Earwood, the undergraduate program director, or click this link.


Have a nonconnected backup system

Walker said most ransomware programs are designed to follow automatic backups. Despite the convenience of cloud storage, he recommends that users buy an external hard drive.

“Plug it into your system, back up to that hard drive and disconnect,” Walker said. “Do this every week or so. If you keep it connected, it is still vulnerable to cyberattacks.”


Use a virtual private network

A virtual private network encrypts users’ internet traffic and hides online identity. VPNs make it more difficult for third parties to track online activity and steal data.

“If you are sure your home system is secure, you can probably not use a VPN,” Walker said. “Many streaming videos will not work with a VPN because it cannot verify your location.”

Walker said users should only use public networks that require a login.


Use a strong password

It is best to use a password program that creates meaningless language or nonsense passwords. Do not use the same password for multiple sites.

This story originally appeared on the UAB News website.

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