Dori: Does war mean your cybersecurity is at greater risk?

Your phone, your computer, your internet, your identity — worried about your cybersecurity risk?

As Russian bombs assail Ukraine, and Vladimir Putin roars cryptic threats against the West, the Dori Monson Show paid special attention to a local cybersecurity story that fell under the radar for most in the area’s news media.

Seattle-based Expeditors — which handles 9% of the world’s freight with about $10 billion in annual revenues in more than 100 countries worldwide – is recovering from a mid-February “targeted cyberattack.” It comes at a time when many global product delivery schedules are delayed due to pandemic-caused supply-chain challenges. The company did not disclose whether the attack was ransomware, nor did it identify the alleged attacker.

In sheer size, the attack was bigger than the 2020 and 2022 state data breaches impacting more than 2 million Washingtonians when the Employment Security Department and the Department of Licensing were hacked.

With war raging and bad actors on the dark web looking for an edge, does this put our personal cell phones or the companies we work for at greater risk for a cyberattack?

For answers to that question, Dori reached out to expert Christopher Budd, director of threat research at Seattle-based Sophos.

“It’s painful to be the victim of a data breach,” Budd said. “I do everything as right as anyone can and my information has been lost or stolen in something like 20 different data breaches over the years.”

It is also true, Budd continued, that “bad actors come out of the woodwork” any time there is “great uncertainty and chaos. … That increases cyber-risk for everyone across the board.”

But he also reassured Dori’s listeners that “Russian attackers are not going to come after their small business.”

If a cyberattack does occur, Dori asked, “What should my listeners do? What should we do to protect ourselves?”

“For a lot of people, if their phone dies, they go into a stress-induced panic,” he added.

“First and foremost, … don’t panic,” Budd advised. “Even in times of great uncertainty like we have right now, these are the things to focus on: keep your phones, keep your applications, keep your computers up to date with security patches. Run security software. Don’t click on links or open malicious attachments.”

For businesses offering workers remote access, Budd recommends using two-level authentication, and disabling connections for former employees.

“Finally, the single most important thing is to have good backup,” Budd said. The Cloud, he added, is “good, reasonable backup” for nearly everyone, including small- to medium-sized businesses.

Listen to Dori’s entire interview with cybersecurity expert Christopher Budd:

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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