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TEEX CRC strives to make a difference in cybersecurity, weighs in on recent events

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Posted at 4:34 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 21:47:27-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Did you know, according to Cybint, a global cyber education company, 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error?

Cybersecurity attacks have dominated the headlines as of late, from an oil pipeline to a meat processing plant. Those attacks could costs businesses big dollars. IBM says the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million dollars.

There's a center in Aggieland that tries to prevent those attacks before they happen and whose mission is to help organizations build cyber-resiliency.

"We conduct training. We are a member of the National Cyber Security Preparedness Consortium with several other institutions of higher education where we develop and deliver training for the Department of Homeland Security, we as well as training for others," Andrew Jarrett shared with KRHD News.

Cybersecurity professionals at TEEX say there has been a spike in cyberattacks during the pandemic and they don't predict the attacks to slow down any time soon.

"Don't engage... Mark it as spam... Delete it. Get rid of it," Jarrett added.

Jarrett, a leader at the TEEX Cyber Readiness Center, says, the last two weeks have been very interesting given recent cyber-related events.

"Unfortunately, the types of attacks we have seen in the news have been incredibly common for several years, but at this point, it's starting to affect large companies like Colonial Pipeline and the food company and it's starting to affect our actual supply chain in the United States," Jarrett said.

With recent ransomware incidents, Jarrett says hacking operations work as a full-fledged business, with arms extending far and wide.

"The Colonial Pipeline hack.... and the fact that the FBI managed to recover some of the money that they paid for the ransomware. That money, we believe, came from an affiliate group, not the group that wrote the software, but one of the groups that probably deployed it on Colonial's networks," Jarrett added.

Attackers have a variety of purposes, most are financially driven and look for a payout... but that's not all.

"But we see other things like credential-stealing... Working accounts... Working log-ins to accounts are actually worth money on the dark web," Jarrett said.

Helping organizations get ahead of future attacks, and step in when urgency is needed, the TEEX Cyber Readiness Center says, developing a cybersecurity culture requires much more than tools or designing a secure network.

"It's not just a problem for the IT department. It is a holistic thing that involves the entire organization, from leadership all the way down to individual employees," he added.

The center has a traveling cyber range server, just one tool they use to help businesses prepare for these events, it even simulates a real cyber attack.

"A lot of what we do focuses around that training and around assessing that culture and helping guide companies and jurisdictions down the path towards maturing their cybersecurity efforts," he shared.

Another professional providing training to prevent attacks is IT specialist Joe Cerney, who says attacks happen much closer to home than you think, including right here in Bryan College Station.

"It used to be you would only see targeted attacks on large entities where it's big companies that everybody knows of, but I am well-aware of targeted attacks to smaller companies that you would think would be kind of off the radar," President of JMC Technologies INC, Joe Cerney said.

Cyber attacks cannot be entirely prevented, but Jarrett says the instances can surely be reduced.

"use strong passwords... pass-phrases.. long sentences.. don't use the same password in the same place. Especially, if you work at a company and they give you a login, don't use the same password there that you use for your bank or Facebook," Jarrett shared.

Jarrett says the main takeaway is to stay vigilant and to think before you click.

If you want to learn more about the Cyber Readiness Center or how you can become more cyber-ready, click here.