SPEAKER

Posted by Robert Homann on Jun 21, 2017
Our speaker today was Tina Slankis, Deputy Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the city of Phoenix.  She has spent over 20 years as a leader in the fields of information technology and cybersecurity.  She has a BS degree in mathematics from the U. of AZ and an MS in information and telecommunication systems from Johns Hopkins University.  Tina has worked in various technology roles for the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon, for Lucent Technologies, for Wells Fargo Banks and for Freeport McMoran Mining Co. prior to taking her position with the City of Phoenix.  Her topic today is "Cybersecurity".
By cybersecurity" she means "measures taken to protect a computer or a computer system against unauthorized access or attack."  Almost everyone in the world is connected to the Internet in some way and some businesses such as Ally Bank exist only on the Internet.
People who do this kind of mischief fall into three broad categories:
1. Criminals (46% of attacks) - they are out to make money.  Their major weapon is Ransomeware that locks up your files unless you pay a ransom to free them (which isn't guaranteed).  For examle, Lake Havasu City had its entire governmental structure locked up by ransomeware. 
2. Hacktivists (33% of attacks) - many are out to promote their political cause by getting publicity through their attacks. This group also include people who see a challenge in breaking into someone else's system.
3. Nation States (21% of attacks) - much of this is industrial espionage but it also includes attempts to gain access to military systems and infrastructure systems like power, water and telecommunications.
 
How do these people get ransomware viruses into your computer or computer system?
1. Via email messages - they are very clever about making real-looking emails that look like it came from your bank or insurance company or your ISP or FedEx or whatever.  This is called "Phishing" and they are looking for you to provide personal information in reply to the email.  Verify if you are in doubt by calling the company.
2. Watering hole attacks - a web site is infected with a virus so whoever visits the website is automatically infected by the virus. 
3. Mal advertising - urgent messages that appear on your computer screen saying your computer is infected.  NEVER click on this malware or you will be in deep trouble.
4. Denial of Service attacks - people link a large number of computers together into a "botnet" that then can send an overwhelming number of requests to your business that blocks out usage by anyone else.
5. And many others - there are new ones every day.
 
The best and only way to protect your information from ransomware is to back it up regularly to an external hard drive or to the cloud.  THIS IS A MUST FOR ALL USERS WHO WANT TO PROTECT THEIR FILES!  Get in the discipline of doing this frequently.
 
The number of devices that are connected to the internet is growing rapidly.  It has been called the "Internet of Things". Your home (thermostats, security systems, etc.), your car (GPS system, phone, etc.), your cell phone or tablet (Wi-Fi, location devices, etc.) are examples.  Each one provides a potential portal for access by hackers. 
 
What do you do if you have been hacked? 
1. Disconnect your device from the internet.
2. Have your hard drive wiped clean by a professional.
3. Re-install your data from your backed up files.
4. Report the problem to law enforcement.  In AJ, that is the city police.  Or to agent Paul Schaaf of the FBI (Paul.Schaff@ic.fbi.gov or 623-466-1241).
 
Thank you Tina for a very interesting (and troubling) presentation and for driving all  the way from downtown Phoenix to give this outstanding presentation.