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Hacking is a threat to all: What you can do to prevent it. – Detroit Free Press

With the flurry of headlines about schools, airports, hospitals, credit card companies and others being hacked across the nation, there’s certainly more reason than ever we should all be paying more attention to cybersecurity.
Pew Research Center found that more than 60% of Americans have personally experienced a major data breach. And, in the past year, the FBI reports Michigan residents and businesses have lost more than $181.6 million to cybercriminal activities, according to a news release from the state.
Worried someone may hack into your laptop or your company’s computer system? There are some things you can do.
For example, don’t use the same password over and over again. And DON’T keep it simple. Instead opt for more passwords with numbers, letters in upper- and lowercase, and special symbols, too. And, if you have employees, make sure they are educated on these steps to help keep threats at bay.
That advice comes from Rick Snyder, who has been involved with technology and issues of security for decades. Before serving two terms as Michigan’s governor, he was president of computer maker Gateway. He just launched SensCy, a cybersecurity firm in Ann Arbor, to help companies, organizations and others avoid threats.
More:Cain: Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to become CEO of Ann Arbor cybersecurity company
He isn’t alone as we take note of Cybersecurity Awareness Month during October. It’s a serious topic as more people and companies are being impacted.
Which is why companies big and small, organizations, educators, CEOs and others are focusing on it. At the same time, others are looking to create jobs wrapped around cybersecurity.
Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II is another who has been focused on computers his entire life. He got his first computer at age 5, studied computer engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, had a successful career as a software engineer at Microsoft and as an entrepreneur before turning to politics.
“As an engineer and entrepreneur, I am always thinking about how we can make sure more people have access to good, secure technology,” Gilchrist said. “It’s required to run a business, get a good education, and even access health care safely. We have expanded access to high-speed internet to tens of thousands more homes and small businesses across the state, while working to ensure people can use the internet without fear their information will be compromised.”
He said that he and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer worked across the aisle to secure more than $40 million in investment to bolster the state’s cybersecurity and protect sensitive data Michigan residents and businesses entrust to state government. “We encourage families and businesses to educate and protect themselves from the evolving threats in the digital world,” he added.
More:Schostak Brothers giving away $1M to mark company’s 100th anniversary
Communities are adjusting to pressing needs and opportunities.
MADCAT (Macomb Automotive & Defense Cyber Awareness Team) was formed in 2014 to focus on helping build the cybersecurity workforce to meet growing demands, particularly with young people.
“Macomb County recognized early on that cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing and in-demand jobs nationwide,” said Mark Hackel, Macomb County executive, who launched the program. “As part of our efforts to ensure we have a suitable workforce, we have engaged education, academia, government, and industry to build out a robust pipeline of talent. Protecting against a cybersecurity attack can be intimidating for many businesses and having the right tools and talent in place not only ensures our businesses are prepared today, but into the future.”
MADCAT promotes the county and state as leaders in developing and supporting a cyber ecosystem while leveraging regional assets in the defense and automotive industries to drive technology innovation, encourage economic development and create a workforce primed for the future.
An offshoot from MADCAT led to the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD) adding in 2017 a cybersecurity program to the high school curriculum. Currently, 14 high schools there offer such programming.
And in partnership with Oakland University, MISD has provided opportunities for teachers to receive certificates to teach cybersecurity courses. Macomb Community College also just launched a Cybersecurity Boot Camp, which is 12 weeks long.
The Michigan Cyber Security Summit is being held Oct. 27 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. This invite-only event, now in its 11th year, is bringing together experts from across the region to talk about the state of things.
Snyder started the event while serving as governor to help raise awareness about these issues.
“Cybersecurity is one of the greatest risks in our world,” added Snyder. “Cyber incidents are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated. It’s particularly bad for smaller organizations who don’t have a full-time IT staff. Cyberattacks on small businesses grew over 400% last year.”
He said, “Cybersecurity threats are like having a chronic disease. It will always be with you. You have to be proactive to manage the dangers/threats.”
Amid all the numbers revolving around cybercrime, I asked which he thought was the most startling.
“That 80% of cyberattacks could have been avoided if basic cybersecurity hygiene was implemented and understood by employees,” Snyder said. “That’s why it is imperative to follow cyber best practices and create a cybersecurity culture that has ongoing employee education and awareness training.”
More:Apple, Google among big tech companies committing billions to cybersecurity
Contact Carol Cain: 248-355-7126 or clcain@cbs.com. She is senior producer/host of “Michigan Matters,” which airs 8 a.m. Sundays on CBS Detroit. See GM’s Aseem Kapur, Richard Schwartz, Randy Richardville, state Rep. Mari Manoogian and Ed Sarpolus on this Sunday’s show.


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