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ALEA campaign warns Alabamians of potential cyberattacks

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Cyber security threats remain a high concern for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which says illegal activities like phishing are an ongoing issue everyone should be aware of.

“FBI released their 2020 internet crime report, and it stated that phishing was the most prevalent threat,” ALEA intelligence analyst Rachel Salter said. “It’s something that we all face.”

With an abundance of these cyberattacks, ALEA joins the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Cyber Security Alliance in promoting National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

“It’s much more common than people realize,” Salter said. In fact, the FBI reports 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime in 2020, up by over 300,000 complaints in 2019.

“If you have any sort of online account, if you have a cellphone, if you have really any connection to the internet, you are at a high risk for cyberattacks,” she added.

The public has seen an increased reliance on the internet, after the pandemic forced many Alabamians to work remotely. The intelligence analyst said this means more people at risk.

“We rely so much on internet banking, we rely on working from home and working on computers,” Salter said. “So everyone is at risk of being a victim of some sort of malicious activity.”

ALEA encourages Alabamians to take action to help prevent these information technology security breaches.

“So some practical steps that I like to give to the general public is threefold. It’s passwords, patches and people,” Salter said.

When choosing a password, ALEA encourages a strong unique one – something that cannot be easily guessed or replicated.

“There’s a study out there that says we each have around 100 passwords that we have to remember,” she said. “So that goes back to how much we rely on the Internet and on cyber means.”

Patches refers to technology companies recommending updates. ALEA says it is best to follow these recommendations because there could be a vulnerability risk you are facing.

Lastly, ALEA said people play a crucial in preventing these crimes. The intelligence analyst said it is best to not only educate yourself but educate others.

“Just getting out there getting educated on some of these matters, how to spot attacks and how to better protect yourself, making sure you have the resources,” she said.

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