Cyber attacks on the rise: How you can protect yourself

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The idea is to promote awareness about the threat and the understanding that everyone is at risk. 

Attacks on big business and big tech typically get the big headlines like the recent incidents involving Las Vegas casinos.

Amazon last week even caused a nationwide scare. The company sent messages that seemed to warn subscribers their accounts were used to fraudulently purchase gift cards. Amazon later issued an apology for the confusion stating the original message was only part of an awareness campaign.

Advise on protecting telework and personal information is available from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

The federal government has a lot of cyber safety information, but it has also stumbled a bit in getting out some of that information. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency back in late September launched a campaign called Secure Our World. It includes a PSD video called, "Kevin and Eva protect their family." 

The video tries to connect with average people, but at times it is a little vague and even a little confusing.


John Miri, President of the Electric Grid Cybersecurity Alliance, spoke to FOX 7 about the threats and the missteps.

"This is a particularly odd week. It should be a good week for us as the first week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. But it appears that the bad guys are more aware of cybersecurity right now than the good guys," said Miri.

This week, there was the test of the new national emergency notification system. Before that happened, Amazon sent out its own alert message. The anxiety and confusion both caused need to be avoided, according to Miri.

"I think it goes to the fact that communication is really not just important, but underappreciated by a lot of cybersecurity officials within companies and others that they're just they're not realizing the best way is to communicate with people to make sure that we're getting them the right information at the right times. And a lot like the Amazon situation just go off half-baked," said Miri.

Along with the problems of miscommunication there is also the mistake of thinking a hacker will not target you.

"It's coming for everybody. And it's coming particularly for smaller, easier targets. Everybody's got family photos, everybody's got tax returns, things like that. And, you know, would you pay $500 or $1,000 to keep a hacker from releasing it on the Web? I think most people would," said Miri.

It's easy to say be cyber aware, but following through with all the safety steps can be difficult. To help, Miri offered a suggestion similar to the advice to parents on how to talk to their kids about the dangers of drugs.

"Block off an hour of your own time or maybe gather your family together on a family game night and just walk through a pretend scenario to say, What would you do if you got hacked? What's a typical type of hack? And walk through that with yourself, your significant others and your family. It could be as simple as saying, I'm going to assume my phone was attacked. If I don't have access to it anymore, and I've got to go through, what would I do next? And I think that will give people some practical information to see what actually happens in an attack. What if my data is actually at risk, and what can I do about it," said Miri.

To help families with that conversation, John Miri created a site called, Cyber Game Night.

The game, according to Miri, is like doing a cyber fire drill. It should take only about 20 minutes to play.