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Tech’s CEROC educates on recent ransomware surges for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Eric Brown stands in Tech's Cybersecurity Education Research and Outreach CenterThe recent change in working patterns has significantly impacted ransomware surges in the last couple of years. Because cybersecurity is important to our community, the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC) at Tennessee Tech University is raising awareness of these attacks during October for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. 

A ransomware attack is malware that demands a ransom to avoid releasing a user’s private information to the public. 

“It’s easy to deploy, and it’s easy to hire a company to deploy it for you. It relies largely on social engineering; you need to find a weak link somewhere to click that one link. So, it’s cheap to deploy and maintain with a high payout,” said Eric Brown, assistant director of Tech’s CEROC. “They play on top of the absolute weakest link, and that’s a human being that’s not been educated enough to know when they’re being duped.”

The problem with ransomware is that it happens quickly. It is hard to backtrack from, so getting ahead of it and educating ourselves on cyber best practices is important. If you click a link in an email, it should be from somebody you know, and there should be a reason for receiving it.

“We must seek the training to better understand our operational environment to safely work within it. Now, that means these virtual environments, home office environments and things like that, which we didn’t speak of as recent as three years ago,” said Brown.

Due to changes in working patterns, training needs to be extended to families of those employed by a business in a world where people work remotely or may be working from home. The home network is now part of the business network, and the vulnerabilities that exist in that home network are now vulnerabilities in the business network.

“We need to make sure that families are aware of the scams and challenges that’s going on because, guess what, that home problem will get into the office, especially if the home is the office part of the time,” said Brown. “We need to figure out how to get people to place the same level of importance on being cyber aware that they are in other parts of their life. It would be amazing how many of these exploits would disappear simply because some education and common sense were being used.” 

Learn about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and how to protect yourself from threats at www.tntech.edu/ceroc or www.cisa.gov. 

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