New Brunswick

Protecting yourself from cyberattacks challenging, says IT expert

Dermot Williams says hackers are creating new tricks to mount cyberattacks all the time making it more challenging to protect against them.

UNB hosts panel discussion Oct. 1 on cybersecurity

Staying ahead of cyberattacks challenging says IT expert Dermot Williams. (Shutterstock)

Dermot Williams says hackers are creating new tricks to mount cyberattacks all the time making it more challenging to protect against them.

Williams, the chief executive officer of the information technology security firm Threatscape in Ireland spoke to Shift New Brunswick host Vanessa Vander Valk.

He said New Brunswick has all the technology skills necessary to help in the fight against cyber crime.

"If you build a better solution on the cybersecurity world people will absolutely beat a path to your door cause they need to stay ahead of the bad guys and they will be looking for the innovation coming out of smaller companies to produce solutions to challenges."

Williams, who will be taking part in a discussion called Cybersecurity in a Dangerous Time at the University of New Brunswick Saturday, said what is most concerning about the hacks is the rewards the hackers are reaping. 

In the past week, hackers were able to target election systems in 20 states in the United States, infect cameras and DVRs for massive internet attacks and steal 500 million user accounts after a hack at Yahoo.

"That's only encouraging them to keep on doing it and become more persistent. They're making money or if they are cyber activists, they are making a point. Or if they are politically motivated they are making wins for their side. All of these things will just keep them coming back."

Change of thinking

Williams said people have to change their thinking on how to approach and deal with cyberattacks. He is speaking about it at a panel discussion at the University of New Brunswick Saturday.

"People used to think it was like pest control, where you would go out and set a few traps to catch mice. It was like set and forget.

You can't do that with cybersecurity because the bad guys are much smarter than mice and they're going to keep coming back and find away around the traps."

Williams said it has to be approached like fire safety - do as much as you can to prevent the fire but "make certain you have something to detect a fire when it does break out."

And add to that a response plan so everyone knows who is dealing with it.

Follow mantra

Protect, detect and respond is the mantra Williams said everyone should follow when trying to stay ahead of cyber attacks.

Williams said cyber attackers go after what many think may not be of value like personal data, customer records, and possibly encrypt if they can't find a buyer.

For personal users, Williams cautioned against using the same password on multiple platforms and systems.

When it comes to organizations, Williams said it is often the employees who are the weakest link.

"A five cent Post-it note in the wrong place with somebody's password written on it can defeat a million dollars worth of security."

With files from Shift New Brunswick