Hacked Again…It can happen to anyone, even a cybersecurity expert

By Guest Blogger Scott Schober

Hacked Again is the true story of my showdown with a daunting cyber-attack on my small company Berkeley Varitronics Systems, Inc. As a small business owner and security expert, I was naive in thinking I was immune to a cyber hack. After all, I regularly presented at security events, wrote on the subject frequently and taught others how to steer clear from online attacks and avoid cyber breaches.

The only thing that hit me quicker than the irony of a hacked cybersecuritry expert was the ugly truth that no one is completely safe from cyber hackers, especially when hackers have their sights set on you. My company suffered multiple credit and debit card compromises including $65,000 stolen from our checking account. In addition to monetary theft, my twitter account was also hijacked, and my company’s website security was “tested” by unknown cyber assailants. We even suffered repeated DDoS attacks that crippled our online store from selling our wireless security tools. A DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service) prevents legitimate users of your website from accessing it due to a flood of IP requests to the point of server shutdown. You might recall that recently DYN (a large domain name server for Twitter, NetFlix, LinkedIn) suffered a huge and devastating attack. I discuss details of this DDoS and the future of such attacks in one of my latest blogs entitled ‘IoT: the 21st Century Trojan Horse’ https://www.secureworldexpo.com/industry-news/iot-the-21st-century-trojan-horse

It’s been some time since I was hacked, but the ordeal is still a painful memory. I have learned valuable lessons on how to better protect my company and myself from hackers. My first instinct was to flee and hide the fact that my own company was hacked. But as I gained the courage to share my story, I learned that I was not alone. My company designs wireless threat detection tools used by cyber threat intelligence groups throughout government agencies so I can confidently share important security tips regarding wireless vulnerabilities that are often overlooked. I also delve into how to protect yourself from identity theft, malware and spam, and explain why it’s so dangerous to post too much personal information on social media as well as the importance of strong passwords which can never be overstated.

Here are a few key tips that will keep you safe from cyber hackers. I go into further depth in my book entitled Hacked Again.

  • Be careful whom you share your Wi-Fi password with. If you have not setup a guest network and have shared your password, change it to a stronger one immediately after they logout.
  • Never click on any attachment or link in an e-mail that you did not expect to receive no matter how legitimate it might look. This is a phishing attack and happens to millions of users everyday.
  • Make frequent backups. This prevents loss of precious data and is especially effective against ransomware threats.
  • Think before you put out personal information on any social media site or you might end up being a victim of identity theft.
  • Do not click on the bottom of a spam e-mails asking to be “unsubscribed”. You will likely receive more spam because they now know you are a real person using that email address. This increases the value of any email address substantially to thieves on the Dark Web.
  • Create Passwords that are long, strong, and unique.
  • It’s critical to have a password that is not easy to discover. Don’t use personal information in any of your passwords. Make sure that you don’t use the same password across multiple accounts.
  • It only takes one corrupt employee within an organization for a successful cyber crime to occur. Report all suspicious activity to your employer. Insider threats are dangerous to everyone within any organization.
  • Make sure you check your credit card statements regularly.
  • Never post your actual birth date on social media and do not use your actual birth date to answer security questions

For more of my story, you can get a copy of my book “Hacked Again” available at www.hackedagain.com

Scott Schober @ScottBVS

CEO | Author | Speaker | Cyber Security & Wireless Expert at Scott Schober LLC

Scott has presented extensively on cybersecurity and corporate espionage at conferences around the globe. He has recently overseen the development of several cell phone detection tools used to enforce a “no cell phone policy” in correctional, law enforcement, and secured government facilities. He is regularly interviewed for leading national publications and major network television stations including Fox, Bloomberg, Good Morning America, CNN, CCTV, CNBC, MSNBC and more. He is the author of “Hacked Again”, his latest book as well as a contributor for Huffington Post and guest blogs regularly for Tripwire’s State of Security series. Scott also writes for Business Value Exchange, Fortune Magazine, SecureWorld, and IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub.

For more details and definitions on unfamiliar terms please visit my cyber security dictionary:  www.cybersecuritydictionary.com