“Easiest Catch: Another Fish in the Dark Net ” – Park Bugle – Park Bugle

By John Horchner

Today, more and more of the products we
bring into our homes and businesses are connected to the Internet—thermostats,
smart speakers, even pacemakers.

It’s called The
Internet of Things and “. . . that’s the topic that keeps me up at night,” said
Mark Lanterman, a computer forensics expert who spoke at University of
Minnesota’s St. Paul campus on Oct. 7 as part of the LearningLife program.

“Whenever we gain
convenie­nce, we give up security,” he said.

Lanterman, who teaches cybersecurity at the
University of St. Thomas School of Law, works for Computer Forensic Services, a
Minnesota consulting firm whose clients include states, counties and towns. He
often dispenses free advice, but it’s not always heeded. In one case, a small
city in the south left a web page for vital controls unprotected for six
months, Lanterman said, adding that was six months after he made them aware of
the problem.

“Hackers need our
help,” he said, “and unfortunately we’re willing to give it to them.”

Organizations aren’t
the only ones at risk. Today it is common for everyone to receive phishing
emails. “Whenever you are asked to give anything of value, pick up the phone
and call an unknown number to verify it,” he said. “Attacks are becoming more

As an example,
Lanterman showed the email that John Podesta’s personal Gmail account was sent
when he headed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Hackers sent
a message pretending to be part of a security team for Google and asked him to
click on a phony link and enter a new password. That one mistake opened the
door to his email account and may have been what influenced the results of the
2016 election, Lanterman said.

During the Q-and-A
period, most of the audience’s questions focused on how people can protect

Lanterman said the
first line of defense has to be oneself because “the government is not going to
do it for you.” Most antivirus products don’t work well, he said, including the
highly advertised ones. “But they’re better than nothing,” he added.

After testing, he
prefers Apple computers because the operating system is more resistant to
hacks. “Ninety percent of hacks occur on a Windows computer,” Lanterman said.
One way to protect against hacking is to “get off public Wi-Fi at airports,
especially if you’re going to be typing in usernames and passwords,” he said.
“Don’t be low-hanging fruit.”

Next up: UMN LearningLife’s “Headliners” for November will be “How Neuroscience Will Revolutionize the Law” by Francis X Shen, associate professor of law. It will be held at the Continuing Education and Conference Center at the university’s St. Paul campus. To register, go to https://ccaps.umn.edu/learninglife

John Horchner is a
publishing professional who lives in St. Anthony Park.


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