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Beware of a cyber attack

By Staff | Feb 23, 2020

Security specialist Ben Geddis of Midwest IT Systems, left, discusses a variety of Internet security matters with the Faribault County Board last week.

“There is a large effort to target county commissioners by hackers,” Midwest IT Systems security specialist Ben Geddis told the Faribault County Board at their meeting on Feb. 18.

Geddis was in attendance at the board meeting to talk about Internet security matters with the board.

“The idea the hackers have is they can cash in on government officials and gain access to information,” Geddis explained. “Counties are highly targeted. If they can get control of your account they can impersonate you and send out emails which appear to be from you.”

The problems are most commonly spread through phishing emails, according to Geddis.

“For instance, I received an email which appeared to be from Pizza Hut offering me a free pizza if I clicked on the link in the email,” Geddis commented. “But when I used my mouse to hover over the hyperlink displayed in the email message, the link-to address was for a different website.”

You need to be very careful what you click on, Geddis shared.

“Ransomware is on the rise,” he stated. “If hackers can get into your system, they can encrypt your information and prevent you from accessing it unless you pay them a ransom to remove the encryption.”

So, what can be done to lower the risks of a hacker getting hold of your data?

“Many people live by the rule, if I was not expecting it (email), I delete it,” Geddis said. “Changing your passwords every year is also a good idea.”

Another way your information can be safeguarded is by having multi-factor protection.

“Multi-factor protection is when you are required to enter a code you may receive through a text to be able to get into your data,” Geddis explained. “For instance, if you are logging into one of your credit cards from a computer you do not normally use, the credit card company may require you to get a code, which they will send to your phone, you will then have to enter the code before you can proceed on their website.”

He provided the board with a list of red flags to watch out for.

“Unknown email addresses, emails received from outside of your organization and emails with a suspicious domain name are all things to look out for,” Geddis said. “Also, watch for bad grammar and spelling errors. Be aware of emails which try and scare you into clicking on a link without thinking about it.”

Also at the meeting was Billeye Rabbe, the solid waste coordinator for the Prairieland Solid Waste Facility in Truman.

She brought a list of solid waste and recycling haulers who needed to have their license renewals approved by the board.

B and B Sanitation and Recycling, Hometown Sanitation, LIP Enterprises, Inc., Peterson Refuse and Demo, Thompson Sanitation and Waste Management were approved for both solid waste hauling and recycling licenses.

Minnesota Lake was approved for a solid waste hauling license and Mason City Recycling was approved for the recycling license.

Commissioner Greg Young mentioned the audit of Prairieland had gone well, morale at the plant is high and the board is very happy with the job Rabbe does.

In other business, it was also noted the Charles Carlson versus Faribault County Drainage Authority court trial will begin on March 18, at 9 a.m., in Martin County.