It can be as simple as an email virus that attacks computer files, or as massive as the Target data breach that expounded bank information of over 120 million people. The more we rely on technology, the more vulnerable we are to a cyber-attack.
Now, Michigan state officials are seeking to teach the public how they can be secure online through a four-part series kickstarting at Northern Michigan University Wednesday, the Michigan Cyber Awareness Conference Series.
â??Whether it be renewing your driver's license, reserving a campground, whether it be tax data, we just have a lot of data ourselves,â?? said Chief Security Officer of the State of Michigan, Dan Lohrmann. â??So, the state is taking initiatives to protect citizen data.â??
Vice President for Research and Cyber Security at Merit Networks, Joe Adams, said attacks have gotten more professional in the last decade. He said it's not your stereotypical "hacker in the basement" anymore.
â??That's really being replaced more by the cyber criminals, cyber activists, and state-sponsored actors,â?? he explained. â??Some of them come across as terrorists. Others are just looking for intellectual property to steal.â??
Some are easier to spot, like phone scams claiming to be from your bank asking for your account information. Some, however, are more difficult to see and can have a greater impact.
â??The sewage treatment plants, for example, uses computer networks to run the valves and the pumps,â?? said Adams. â??What we can do is we can actually turn one of those pumps off, back up stuff, and stuff gets into the water supply.â??
Things like password managers and programs that alert of a potential network breach can be utilized by private citizens, businesses, schools, and government sectors alike.
State officials said it's vital for people to be proactive in protecting yourself.
â??Eighty percent of critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector,â?? said Lohrmann. â??So, really both aspects, public and private sector, have a role to play in cyber security.â??
The Michigan Cyber Awareness Conference Series continues in Detroit in June, then stops in Traverse City in August, and ends in Kalamazoo in September. Governor Snyder will hold another Michigan Cyber Summit in Detroit in October.