Posted by Sandy Warren on Jan 29, 2018
Kimo Kildreth of Ventura County D.A.'s Office
Offers Insights into the World of Cyber-Security
"Cyber-crime has exploded." This was the simple and sobering statement that Kimo Kildreth used to begin his presentation to members and guests at our January 29 meeting. Kimo, an investigator with the Ventura County District Attorney's office, noted that no one who goes online with a smart-phone, tablet, or computer is completely safe from a potentially damaging cyber-attack. However, he stressed, there are ways to make oneself safer and less likely to fall victim to such a threat.
Kimo provided statistics on both corporate and personal cyber-crime. He noted that 60 percent of small businesses that have a major breach of their data security are out of business within six months. On the home front, he reminded everyone that it's not just cell phones and computers that can provide an entry into a person's data - many new appliances, such as refrigerators, have their own IP addresses and are thus vulnerable targets to a hacker.
What to do? The number one defense, according to Kimo, is a combination of vigilance and common sense, particularly when dealing with something as seemingly routine as email. Pretty much everyone knows to ignore those messages from distant foreign lands that offer to share millions of dollars if you just "click here" and provide a bank account where they can transfer your riches. But did you know that a smart hacker can cleverly disguise his message to appear as though it came from a trusted source, like your broker or mortgage lender, and offer up a link where you can conveniently take care of a planned transaction? Again, vigilance is key - if in doubt, call the person before you click on anything.
Lastly, said Kimo, protect yourself with strong passwords for your various financial accounts and other frequently visited sites. His recommendation is a minimum of 15 characters, and don't use the same password for more than one site. Also, back up your data onto an external source, such as a portable hard drive, then disconnect that source from your computer. That way, if you are hacked and it appears your data is gone, you've got a secure back-up from which to restore it.
Thank you, Kimo, for an eye-opening look at the potential perils that await on the information superhighway!