Sensitive information at risk as cyber threats evolve

By Jill Sperling
February 1, 2017 - 4:53pm Updated: February 1, 2017 - 5:40pm

KAMLOOPS — Modern technology has made it easier than ever to access and share information, but how secure is your personal data?

The third annual Privacy and Security Conference held at Thompson Rivers University Wednesday explored the growing risk of cyber breaches. 

Even as people become more aware of the risks they face online hackers are finding more sophisticated ways to carry out their attacks. 

Justin Fong is Deloitte's cyber security leader for western Canada. He says it's not a matter of if you will fall victim to a cyber attack, but when. 

"Most of the threats are actually with ransomware," Fong explained. "We've heard a lot about that where computers get encrypted and people are losing data. The other large one that people are hearing right now is denial of service, or distributed denial of service."

Fong says it's fairly simple for hackers to access sensitive information from organizations' seemingly secure networks. So, how do people protect themselves against an attack?

"One: have a strong password," Fong said. "Two: be very aware of what's happening in the world today from a threat perspective, and three: make sure you have the appropriate controls to protect sensitive data. If you have something sensitive, encrypt it using strong encryption, and don't share those passwords across multiple sites."

Cyber breaches often remain undetected for months. That can be devastating for businesses that collect and store personal information. 

Kamloops Airport Manager Fred Legace says airport staff are cognizant of how important it is to keep private information private.

"We need to make sure that we take as many opportunities to make sure that we're protecting the information, and we're not letting it get out in the rest of the world," Legace said. "The bigger piece is make absolutely certain that we're only collecting information that we really need."

The Kamloops Airport keeps its critical systems offline because the risk of an attack to navigation systems and everyday operations is too great.

"That part is that physical, really physical, firewall around those infrastructures to make absolutely certain that because it's such a life safety issue that we restrict access to it," Legace said. 

In the world of cyber security the only constant is change. Anyone who has anything to lose must remain vigilant in detecting potential threats. 

"We're a lot more savvy than we used to be 10 years ago," Fong said, "but I think there's a long way for us to go, and a lot to learn." 

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