Local government officials staying ready for potential overseas cyber-attacks

Published: Jan. 9, 2020 at 9:20 PM CST
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Local officials are stressing cyber security after recent cyber-attacks on multiple state agencies.

Governor Greg Abbott says the state is seeing nearly 10,000 cyber-attacks every minute from Iran. He says that because of this, everyone needs to remain diligent with online safety.

“We want to make sure the state, as well as local governments, as well as the private sector, is going to be best prepared to deal with, and that is potential cyber terrorism as a result and by-product of the Iran situation,” said Governor Abbott.

Bernie Acre is the Chief Information Officer for the City of Bryan. He says he and his team work around the clock to keep the city safe from cyber-attacks.

"Our customers could lose power. They could use their water flow. They would have water until the water towers run out of water,” said Acre. “But those are the side effects of a nefarious attack that would happen if someone such as Iran breached our systems,” said Acre.

Acre says the city’s cybersecurity team is blocking almost half of all emails that pass through the network because they could be dangerous.

Scott Smith, Chief Information Security Officer for the city of Bryan, says they are working with federal and state agencies to spot potential threats.

"We've received maybe a couple of hundred different IP addresses that they have seen nefarious activity form in the past,” said Smith. “We haven't seen any specific threat to be noted yet but we are monitoring those address ranges.”

Danny Davis is the Interim Director of the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center and says there are ways to keep you and your information safe.

"You don't want to use 1-2-3-4 as a password. You want to have a 14 to 15 letter password. You should also mix up your lower and higher cased your different characters,” said Davis.

Davis says cybersecurity is similar to home security. He says the person with the least amount of protection will most likely be the one who is harmed by a cyber-attack.

Experts also suggest never connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, and always updating your technology to the most recently released update.

For more information on cybersecurity best practices, visit the related links section.