Beware of cyber attack

We have all seen this pop up on our screen a few too many times — create a password. Perhaps you will use your mother’s maiden name, your birthday, or maybe even your graduation date. Although these are all common things people use to make passwords, hackers know this as well and are using this to their advantage to steal information and crash systems.

While technology is advancing, cyber security threats are also becoming more sophisticated. Incidences of cyber attacks have become more and more prevalent as our society continues towards a more technologically advanced culture.

From the first computer worm created in the 1980s to more recent grand-scale attacks on credit card companies and government entities, cyber attacks have plagued our society for decades.

A recent hacking scandal of top security officials has brought cyber security back into the limelight once again. An alleged high school student has hacked into the personal AOL account of CIA Director, John Brennan, and the Comcast account of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson.

Although the hacker didn’t access classified documents, the ease with which he or she was able to perform the cyber attack is raising some concern. The hacker simply used the documented tactic of “social engineering” in order to get the officials’ personal information, reset their passwords, and log in to their accounts, according to the New York Post.

The ease of this attack reveals that cyber security is an issue all citizens should be concerned about. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has put out helpful tips and strategies to help citizens and companies protect themselves from cyber attacks by setting up secure passwords, protecting personal information, not clicking on links in emails, etc.

President Barack Obama has also been pushing for cyber security information sharing for many years. Currently, the Cyber security Information Sharing Act, otherwise known as CISA, is one of a few bills being considered to step up cyber security. CISA’s goal is to make it simpler for corporations and the government to share information about cyber attacks with each other.

Cyber attacks are even being combated here at the University of Southern California. The University has information technology programs as well as a Master of Science program to inform students about cyber attacks and to train students to strengthen cyber security.

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