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War in Ukraine highlights risk of Russian cyberattacks

Experts say it is important to back up any files on your computer and smartphone, either with an online service or an external hard drive and make sure software and operating systems are up to date, as they often offer security patches for the device’s protection.
The Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute's “heat index” lists a “high likelihood” of Russia launching a cyberattack against the U.S. and its allies, in part because of the sanctions leveled by them against Russia because of the war in Ukraine.
As Russia wages war on the ground in Ukraine, there’s another war taking shape in cyberspace - one with the potential to cripple real-world systems people rely on, like the electrical grid and public water systems.
Posted at 9:13 AM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 12:13:01-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Russia wages war on the ground in Ukraine, there’s another war taking shape in cyberspace: one with the potential to cripple real-world systems people rely on.

"You've got to remember in the cyber world, critical infrastructure -- water power, transport -- 85% of it is privately-run,” said John Miller, NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism. “So, it can't just be a government-only security fence.”

That security fence in the online world requires everyone to help maintain it, experts say.

“It's not only attacks on well-known websites, but it's attacks on individuals and small businesses as well,” said Anton Dahbura, executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute.

The institute monitors the potential of nations to launch cyberattacks against other nations.

Right now, their “heat index” lists a “high likelihood” of Russia launching a cyberattack against the U.S. and its allies, in part because of the sanctions leveled by them against Russia.

“Pretty much anybody that has a computer is vulnerable,” Dahbura said, adding that now is the time to take action to protect your online footprint. “There are pretty easy things that really decrease your level of vulnerability significantly.”

First off, experts say to make sure you have a strong password, which uses lower and uppercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols.

It is also important to back up any files on your computer and smartphone, either with an online service or an external hard drive, and make sure software and operating systems are up to date, as they often offer security patches for the device’s protection.

Experts say think about taking steps to protect your computer and smartphone, the same way you would for your home.

“You install cameras, you install a reasonable burglar alarm, then the bad guys probably aren't going to go to your house,” Dahbura said. “They're probably just going to keep going. So, that's where you want to be in the cyber world as well.”

Precautions that are necessary as the real world and the cyber world become equally vulnerable and intricately linked.