Cybersecurity professor stresses protecting against hackers

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Our noses are stuck in our phones, in our tablets and even in our watches. So it's no wonder one of the biggest threats to our personal security is happening right in front of our faces and no one seems to see it. 

"There might be a little bit of desensitization. We hear about hacking all the time," said WSU Cybersecurity Professor Lincoln Schroeder. "And I think people take the approach, 'Oh, it won't happen to me.'"

Schroeder certainly sees it. In his decades of service to our country, as a retired member of the 184th Intelligence Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, he's learned a thing or two about the mind of a hacker.

"Most of the threats out there are pretty subtle. You won't know when they're on your system using it."

He says that every device you own, from your phone to your baby's monitor, contains marketable info hackers can sell.

"How much do you really trust the apps that you're downloading? They will allow a hacker to take over your phone, monitor everything you do, turn on the mic, turn on the camera, watch your texts."

A recent survey by PC Magazine asked Kansans about their cybersecurity. Fifty-five percent admitted they never change their passwords. And one of the biggest mistakes is where people store those passwords.

"You're going to write it down or use a password manager that is on your system where if your system is compromised. It's available to hackers. Or you put it in a .DOC file on your computer. So guess what hackers look for?" Schroeder said.

He says your best bet is a 21-character or more string of capital and lowercase letters and numbers. But don't over think it. He suggests using a sentence like "kakenews10isonyourside."

"That right there is so long that a lot of hacker dictionaries or brute force attempts will never get to it," Schroeder said. "Although I wouldn't use that one now."

License plates, famous quotes and family names are also easy to crack.

"One of our favorite common passwords we used to find was 'Cowboys#1.'"

Also concerning is that only 21 percent of Kansas users back up their data. He says that while using the cloud for pictures is fine, a hard drive or computer that's not on wifi 24-7 is the way to go for finances, medical and family documents

Where Kansans felt confident is in their use of anti-virus software. Forty-eight said it's installed.

The Best Antivirus Protection of 2018

Schroeder said, "Vulnerabilities happen. Nothing is 100 percent secure. The more we educate ourselves, the more we watch out for each other, the better it'll be for cybersecurity and the less places we give cyber criminals to go and exploit.

One last number for you:  46 percent of you admit to having no education on personal cybersecurity. 

Schroeder gave us two very helpful websites to step you through securing your digital world:  stopthinkconnect.org and consumer.ftc.gov

What I also found shocking is that devices like Amazon Alexa and even those high-tech crock pots and your router have default passwords that hackers know we never change.

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