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Cybersecurity expert gives tips to staying safe online

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - They can happen to anyone almost anywhere. Cyberattacks are on the rise across the nation. It’s why the University of South Mississippi Gulf Park is making sure their students and staff know how to prevent them.

The number of cyberattacks has grown in the last few years.

United States Air Force Lt. Col. Cleo Lamkin has been a cyberspace operations officer for more than 15 years and said people don’t realize how harmful the consequences can be if we’re not careful.

“That’s where our entertainment is, that’s where our resources are, that’s where our funds are, that’s how we connect with our family,” Lamkin said. “It’s an important environment and we can’t just treat it as a stand-alone thing because of the reliance we’ve put on it from our culture.”

Lamkin taught cybersecurity majors that readiness is better than reliance.

He said having complex passwords, updating computer systems, and avoiding phishing emails are great ways to avoid becoming a victim.

“Financial risks. You’re looking at privacy concerns if your health data gets leaked because you keep your health records on your computer. If you’re doing banking from a public Wi-Fi hotspot and it’s compromised, now you’re looking at your financial information potential disclosed,” he said.

Bryce Wiseman is a cybersecurity major and said she knew the basics but didn’t realize how large the cyberworld is.

“I wasn’t very into the whole military aspect of it. I knew the government did these types of things, but I didn’t know they were so involved,” she said.

Wiseman was also surprised to learn the statistics of threats from cyberattacks.

“Once people are found to have vulnerable systems and they get the ransomware on their systems, about 83% of those folks pay for the ransom, so if you’re looking for a stat, then I’d say that’s problematic,” she said.

Lamkin said knowing what to look out for is important, like avoiding phishing emails and websites so you won’t be in a problematic situation.

“Make that differentiation pretty quick and air on the side of not trusting. Unfortunately, air on the side of not trusting and you’ll be much better for it,” he said.

Lamkin works at the 81st Training Support Squadron located at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi and oversees approximately 29,000 graduates per year.

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