Arizona is on high alert for Russian cyberattacks. Here’s what you need to do now.
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The Arizona Department of Homeland Security is on high alert for Russian cyberattacks, 3 On Your Side has learned. The agency’s director, Tim Roemer, says his team in the state’s Cyber Command Center is closely monitoring the situation in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We have to be prepared for the worst,” Roemer said. “The worst could be a number of things. If a cyberattack was successful against critical infrastructure, against a pipeline, water, energy sector, you could see those types of services go down in a city, in a county, in a state for any number of hours or even days.”
Roemer says cyberattacks could be carried out by the Russian government or criminal organizations based in the country.
“I think it’s really important for people to understand that overall the United States is very cyber resilient, and we’re really energy resilient,” Roemer said. “It’s important for people not to panic. We don’t want the consumer response to be worse than the cyberattack or the emergency itself.”
Every month, Arizona faces 5 to 7 million cyberthreats on the state’s network from a variety of actors. Most are thwarted automatically, but approximately 2,000 are considered “advanced threats” and must be investigated by the state. “We’re attacked all day, every day -- prior to Russia’s unprovoked action on Ukraine,” Roemer said. “That was happening anyway, so the likelihood of it escalating into something larger is very likely.”
Roemer says it is critical for people to use two-factor authentication and update software to patch vulnerabilities on their devices. Consumers should also avoid clicking on links in emails and text messages from unknown senders. “These organizations target you in your personal life; they try to get access to certain accounts. They’re hoping you reuse those same passwords for work,” Roemer said. “If you’re the type of person that you work for a financial institution, a healthcare provider, an energy company, now you’ve taken your personal life, and you’ve let it compromise your employer, and possibly the state and the nation, as well. That’s why being vigilant from your personal life all the way to your professional life really can make a difference.”
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