Make cybersecurity a business priority |

Make cybersecurity a business priority

Bill O’Driscoll
Cyberseurity experts Shamik Sengupta, executive director of the Cybersecurity Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, Brandon Peterson, chief information security officer at the Desert Research Institute, and Darren McBride, a Reno electrical engineer and Microsoft Certified Instructor, on Sept. 7, listen to questions during the Northern Nevad Business Weekly's September Business & Breakfast event at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.
Melissa Saavedra/NNBW |

Worried about cybersecurity? You should be.

Email, a must in every business, is the biggest port of entry for those seeking to steal from your company and your employees, a panel of experts told about 100 people attending Northern Nevada Business Weekly’s monthly Breakfast & Business event at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno.

“Email is where most things happen,” said Darren McBride, a Reno electrical engineer and Microsoft Certified Instructor.

And passwords can be the doorway for bad things to enter, McBride and others said, as email users often are not creating passwords sophisticated enough to ward off cyber criminals.

“The bad guys have the advantage, but you have to provide the resources” to address cybersecurity, said Brandon Peterson, chief information security officer at the Desert Research Institute and an instructor in classes across the country on incident handling and hacker techniques.

To illustrate the magnitude of the challenge, he said that in the past month alone, 8.4 percent of all emails into the DRI, a branch of the Nevada System of Higher Education with extensive operations in Reno and Las Vegas, were found to have some form of virus attached.

In addition, Peterson said, at least two DRI employees responded to an email “phishing” attempt, a technique used by cyber criminals to gain access to personal and financial information such as Social Security and sensitive information.

“Phishing is what keeps us awake at night,” Peterson said.

But even so, there are ways to combat online crime, notably being aware.

Among their advice: Don’t open email attachments without first questioning the sender. Watch for awkward spelling or grammatical usage in the text; often that can be an indication of criminal intent. If it looks suspicious, close the email and contact the sender or company to verify its legitimacy.

The bottom line for businesses, they said: Train — and continue to retrain — your employees on cybersecurity best practices, using outside expertise in addition to, rather than solely relying on, IT staff if possible.

“Most of us have some level of awareness,” Peterson said. “Lots of organizations leave it in the hands of the geeks. We can help, but we do communicate differently. We tend to be good technically, but we don’t often deal well with people when it comes to communication.”


Back up ALL your computer information, ideally to a location outside of your business or away from your city.

Educate your employees on cyber crime and retrain them periodically as malicious activity get more sophisticated; make them aware it exists at every level of online activity.

Invest in antivirus programs.

Invest in good routers with built-in protections.

Keep your computer servers in a secure and locked room.

Use wi-fi with care, especially in a public setting like Starbucks, and keep personal information closed when wi-fi is open.


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