As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine moves into an even deadlier phase, many experts expect Russia to respond to Western sanctions and other actions by unleashing cyberattacks in greater numbers.
That means interests in the U.S. — including your own personal information and wallet — could be at risk.
Ryan Wright, a professor specializing in cybersecurity at the University of Virginia, tells USA Today:
“With U.S. sanctions setting in, it is only a matter of time until the U.S. is targeted more directly. This may mean attacks on your personal device through ransomware but also attacks on the infrastructure such as your internet access or even the power grid.”
While fighting such well-funded and expertly engineered cyberattacks might seem hopeless, MarketWatch reports that you probably can fight back more effectively than you imagine.
As the publication notes, taking simple steps can help protect you from rogue cyber-crooks, even when a major government is behind the attacks.
The U.S. government reminds you that cyberattacks can take on many forms. Crooks might access any device that connects to the internet or Bluetooth, including computers, mobile phones and gaming systems.
Once an attack is underway, you are at risk for everything from identity theft to big financial losses. Cyberattacks can prevent you from accessing your personal information or accounts.
It is even possible that a cyberattack could halt transportation or disable the power grid.
Although you cannot do much about those last two possibilities, there is much you can do to protect your own information. Here are some steps Uncle Sam suggests you take to build a defense against cyberattacks:
- Limit personal information you share. The government urges you to strengthen privacy settings and to avoid using location features.
- Update software. In particular, keep your apps and operating systems up to date.
- Create strong passwords. How strong? Stronger than you think. For more, check out “6 Ways to Stop Hackers From Emptying Your Retirement Accounts.” Also, don’t reuse passwords.
- Use common sense before you click. If something sounds fishy, or too good to be true, it probably is. Never give out personal information.
- Always use a secure internet connection. Avoid public Wi-Fi connections like those at coffee shops. Also, use strong antivirus software and firewalls.
- Use biometric scans. When possible, use these scans — such as a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition technology — instead of passwords.
Using multi-factor authentication is another good way to fend off cyberattacks, as we explain in “Be Sure to Do This With Your Tax Software.”