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IT expert shares tips on how to protect against ransomware

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The majority of cyber attacks are against smaller companies, and a local information technology expert says backing up data is a big part of the strategy and solution to protecting against cyber attacks. Brent Cooper is the owner of IT company C-Forward as well as the interim president of the NKY Chamber of Commerce. He said many people are vulnerable to cyber ransom attacks. "Ninety-one percent of attacks are coming in via email," he said. "And they are the links that you're clicking on." Ransom attacks quadrupled last year and are projected to double again this year, according to Cooper. Some small businesses pay the hackers thousands of dollars in ransom, though Cooper doesn't recommend paying it. For those who are hit by the attacks, there can be frustrating and serious consequences. Florence Tandy, the director of NKY Community Action Commission, said a relative's computer was affected by a ransomware attack. "We basically just had to wipe her computer out and get her a new one and start all over," Tandy said. The Commission tries to be cyber-safe, according to Tandy. "It's a constant worry," she said. "Anytime you hear about something you think, 'Oh no, are we protected?'" Cooper shared these tips: in addition to updating system and software, trying using "pass phrases" as passwords. "We recommend saying things like, 'I [space] love [space] the [space] Reds exclamation point,'" he said. Cooper also recommends using a password manager with encryption, and using dual authentication for access. It's a combination of something you have, like a thumb print, and something you know, like a generated code. And it's important to remember that Apple products can be vulnerable. "Unfortunately, there's not one silver bullet," Cooper said. The NKY Chamber of Commerce has several cyber security workshops scheduled through the spring.


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