I read a book that scared the daylights out of me.
Fatal System Error by Joseph Menn tells about organized crime groups in Russia using the Internet to take control of thousands of computers all over the world, without their ownersï¿½ knowledge, and ordering those computers to attack and shut down company Web sites unless those corporations paid ransom. These criminals are protected from law enforcement by the Russian government, so that its military will have access to their expertise for cyber warfare.
The scary part is the book is nonfiction. Learning about high-level, real-life conspiracies of outlaws lurking in your broadband connection makes you feel defenseless.
These fears hit closer to home when I read an industry news item about a cyber criminal getting a hold of the name and password of an employee at an electric co-op.
In this real-life crime drama, the good guys won. A national organization that provides financial services for electric co-ops discovered the misuse of the information during a routine Internet scan. The Cooperative Finance Corporation immediately called the co-op, which changed the log-in information and erased any software that might have been secretly put on the employeeï¿½s computer to steal information.
It was no accident that co-ops caught this black-market activity.
CFC Vice President and Chief Information Officer Mike Carr says, ï¿½CFC monitors member information 24/7 to detect the misappropriation of CFC membersï¿½ data.ï¿½
The electric co-op network knows that even larger threats exist, as community and national electricity networks increasingly rely on sophisticated technology to keep power flowing to your home. Co-op experts watch for trouble day-to-day and develop plans to avoid future problems.
The Internet is a scary place. But you can know that electric co-ops are on guard for cyber mischief related to your electric service. And you can take simple steps to safeguard your own Internet use, like not responding to e-mails unless you know who sent them, and keeping your passwords secure. For more tips, including a way to check whether youï¿½ve selected an effective password, go to www.KentuckyLiving.com and type ï¿½cyber securityï¿½ in the Keyword Search box.
KEYWORD EXCLUSIVE: CYBER SECURITY
For more about cyber security, go to cyber security.