Cyber Security: The number one thing to strengthen your account

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 5:38 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - We’re online these days more than ever. And it’s easy to get complacent about your digital security. In the spirit of Cyber Security Awareness Month, we invited Michael Watson to the WDBJ7 Digital News Desk.

Watson is Chief Information Security Officer for VITA, Virginia’s Information Technologies Agency. It’s the agency responsible for information technology for all of the Commonwealth’s other agencies, including the executive team.

“The last year has been quite a wild ride for us cyber security folks,” he said Thursday.

Watson said the last year has been unprecedented in the number of cyber incidents and the scope.

He noted the attack that temporarily affected the Colonial Pipeline, resulting in gas panic buying throughout the southeast. But even local organizations, like Roanoke College, have experienced cyber incidents.

Agencies big and small, Watson said, have to keep up.

“We’ve got to remain diligent because just like what we see for all of these types of attacks and what we see out there, attackers are going where the money is,” he said.

While identity theft is still rampant, he said financial institutions in particular have beefed up security for individuals.

“I’d say it’s more of a good news story,” he concluded, saying many financial institutions have numerous checks and balances in place for individual accounts.

So how can we make sure that good news story doesn’t become a bad one?

Most important, he recommends a multi-step authentication for your most important accounts, which offers an extra layer of protection to log in.

“That’s that string of numbers that you get a text from or that is on your app on your phone,” he explained. “...It’s the number one thing that saves people when their passwords get compromised because it’ll eventually happen.”

You can watch our full conversation with Michael Watson here:

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