Cyber Terrorism: Are You Protected?

By Rachel Martin

November 8, 2012 Updated Nov 8, 2012 at 7:41 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – Terrorists are not just targeting countries anymore. Now they're infiltrating the web, finding ways to attack from within. It may seem like a Federal problem, but cyber terrorism could affect you in your home. Are you protected?

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently stated the United States is under a cyber attack.

Instead of terrorists attacking our land, they're attacking through the web, and Panetta says these attackers have the ability to take down a power grid, water system, transportation, or even a financial system and paralyze the country as we know it.

But that's in Washington and major corporations—what about at your home? Is Al Qaeda sitting in front of a lap top planning to attack you?

It seems scary, but computer specialists say it’s easy to protect your PC from cyber terrorists. All it takes is keeping your anti-virus up to date.

“Really it's just anybody out there. It might be someone that has a malicious intent, you know as we call "terrorism" or it might be someone that's just trying to cause problems for people,” said Stephen Bush and IT Engineer in Fort Wayne.

By problems Bush means computer viruses. Matt Schmidt, the owner of A Plus Computers in Fort Wayne agrees, but it's not necessarily about stealing your personal information, it's about making you click on an add or open a malicious email.

“Most of the time they're trying to make your computer a bot. So they'll put something on your computer for you to infect all your friends. And then all your friends get that bot and infect all their friends,” said Schmidt.

“You go onto Facebook and you'll see people who get their accounts hacked and they post things on their stream that allow people to click on that and then they're affected,” added Bush. “Whether they’re trying to generate revenue in some way by making you visit their website by directing your click somewhere else, or if it’s someone trying to fish out your information so they can buy things they want for personal gain.”

Why? Schmidt says because there's money involved.

“Usually they're getting the money from people who are doing the advertising, it's a big circle, you know? They make a tenth of a penny, and you think oh it's not much, but over 10 million people a day that they attack, it adds up,” he said.

So how do you protect yourself at home?

“Watch what you're browsing, keep your anti-virus software up to date and be very careful with the emails you click on,” said Schmidt.

Not only are cyber terrorists coming after your computers, but because so many phones nowadays are like mini-computers, cyber terrorists are coming after these too. Bush says thee best way to protect your phone is by using a password.

“Locking your phone with either a numeric password or a computer password will help prevent that. Changing your password often and having a strong password-not just your dog's name-will help quite a bit to keep it safe,” said Bush.

Besides locking your phone, Bush says the easiest form of protection is proximity—keep your phone close, and just like with your computer, keep update the software.

“There are even anti-virus companies that are starting to develop things to secure phones, even remotely wipe the phone and completely clear it off so if someone has your phone they won’t get anything off of it,” he said.

In terms of anti-virus software, both Bush and Schmidt agree free software will do the job, but Schmidt says the free ones will have more “holes” than the ones you purchase.

“Free is free, there’s a reason for it,” said Schmidt. “But once your anti-virus software lapses, there are no new updates coming out for it. The ones you pay for, they’re going to lock down most of your stuff.” However, Schmidt warns, “None of them are fool-proof because the hackers are trying to attack it everyday. They’re trying to find ways around the software. It’s a vicious circle.”

“Just be aware there’s a threat out there, it’s nothing to be overly paranoid about, but definitely have in place strong passwords, up to date anti-virus and software and it’ll keep you safe,” said Bush.

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