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How to protect yourself from an increasing number of cyberattacks

Posted at 5:03 AM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 06:24:34-04

(WXYZ) — The potential for cyberattacks may be greater now than it's ever been. President Joe Biden's administration has warned the country repeatedly about the possibility Russia will engage in "malicious cyber activity" against the U.S.

The attacks might not only be directed at our infrastructure or big companies. Targets could include U.S. citizens, but there are ways to protect yourself.

These most recent warnings came out in the last couple of days. Verizon customers received a text message which appears to be from their own phone number, suggesting the company will give them a gift for paying their bill.

Whatever you do, do not click the link or any attachments. ABC News reported that customers who did have been steered to what appears to be a Russian website.

Authorities fear this may be a way to hack your phone or other devices.

I posted about the spam text alert on my Facebook page and received more than 100 comments.

Wen Uppy replied, "Just got one yesterday. I was like how did I send myself a text. Knew right away it was a scam."

Judy Turner-Earich wrote, "It's not just Verizon. AT&T and Sprint, we've had that happen several times. We just delete them."

ABC News confirmed other companies' customers have been targeted, receiving a statement from T-Mobile saying, "Unfortunately, scams like these are an industry-wide problem."

Gregory Laidlaw is the Cybersecurity and Information Systems Department Chair at the University of Detroit Mercy. He suggests three ways to protect yourself.

First, minimize your attack surface.

“If you’ve got 15 credit cards open and ready to go, that’s a bigger attack surface than if you’ve got three or four," Laidlaw said.

Second, use multi-factor authentication.

This requires users to provide two or more factors — like a password and a pin — to gain access to your accounts and devices.

Third, update your anti-virus software and run any other software updates that pop up.

Office or computer stores like Staples offer PC tuneups, which include an integrated scan and vulnerability protection.

So, a reminder to not click on any unexpected links in texts or emails. If you've received one of these texts with a link to a "gift for paying your bill," delete it.

Also, if your phone, tablet, or computer has been crashing a lot, slowing down, not letting you shut down or restart, your device may be infected, beware. You might want to see a computer tech to scan for malware.

To find out how to recognize, remove, and avoid malware, check out the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Advice.