North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
October 31, 2016
           Hero helper needed: A volunteer (actually two are preferred) is needed to help present the Holmes Golden Heroes awards Dec. 9 at the school at 1:30pm.  If available, please contact President Nancy Hanson or Sandy Fink.
How safe are your computer files?
“Cyber crime is the new organized crime,” a cyber security expert told the club Oct. 31.
            Heather Stratford-Geibel, CEO of IT Training solutions, took club members on a “phishing expedition” and it was a scary trip through computer-land on Halloween.
            “Ten years ago, companies could set up a firewall to protect their files,” Stratford said.  Now computer files are full of “Trojan Horse” attacks, often from Eastern Europe, Russia and China, where fire walls are low and extradition is nearly impossible, she said.
            How rapidly is the field changing?  “If you have been out of school two years, you are out of date,” Stratford said.
            Social media use often facilitates the cyber attacks, she said.  While business computers usually are the most profitable targets for hackers, personal computers are not immune, especially if people occasionally work at home, thus linking to business applications.
            And if children and other family members use the same computer, hackers can gain entrée from their Facebook, Linked-In, or other media outlets, she said.  College students often use “free, pirated software sites,” which are rife with malware hacking opportunities, she said.
            How widespread is the problem?  Stratford said “half of small business has experienced a cyber attack.  Only the big companies, like Target and Premera, have to report the successful attacks, she added.  Apple-based products have been less exposed to attacks than other PC’s, but are not immune, she said.
             Bottom line, some $1 billion has been extorted this year through “ransom-ware,” Stratford said.  The FBI says don’t pay ransom extortionists, and in the U.S. about 90 percent follow that advice.  But in countries like the United Kingdom, where more victims pay, there is even more computer hacking, she said.
          Stratford offers “four keys” for some protection:
                  1) “Patch it” – install new computer patches as soon as possible to close malware loopholes.Hovering over the patch name with the computer mouse often can tell users if the URL is real.
                  2) “Back up everything” – do this regularly on home and business computers and store data off-line.
      3) “Use anti-malware software” – on business and personal computers and scan weekly.
      4) “Train your staff” (also family and household) – insist on good security practices for everyone, from the CEO to the maintenance staff, from children to maids and gardeners who may use computers in your home.
IT Training Solutions was founded in Utah in 2006 and its Spokane home is at 633 E. 25th Ave.
The bulletin producers:
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Program coordinator: Brad Stark