Watching Out For Cyber Threats

How to keep an eye out for cyber threats, and report anything suspicious.

For New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, cybersecurity involves not just fighting terrorism, but also protecting individuals from identity theft and Internet fraud.

New Jersey is “very digitally dense,” says OHSP director Chris Rodriguez. “Our citizens are on the Internet, and as their devices are increasingly connected to the Internet, that raises vulnerabilities.” OHSP aims to be a bulwark. “What we really want to do is raise the barriers of entry for malicious actors,” he says.

A breach in cybersecurity can mean theft of an individual’s credit card information or a hospital’s patient database. Hackers are trolling for money and personal information; others want to disrupt communications.

OHSP recommends best cyber-hygiene practices like changing account passwords every 30 days and not opening e-mails from strangers. E-mail recipients should beware of messages with generic greetings or grammatical errors.

Rodriguez says it is essential to share information in the fight against  cyber threats. To that end, OHSP formed the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) to bring together analysts from state and federal agencies to track, share and dissect threats with local governments and private entities.

“We’re able to take that information and have our analysts look at it, understand what those threats and those tactics are for attacking a cybersystem, and then share them broadly with all of our constituents that sign up for NJCCIC alerts,” says Steven Gutkin, OHSP’s deputy director. “So you’re getting a tremendous fusion of intelligence from a whole number of different sources.” (To sign up for NJCCIC cyber-alerts, go to cyber.nj.gov.; to report a hack, go to cyber.nj.gov/report.)

Thanks to NJCCIC, the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy cited New Jersey as one of eight states prepared to meet the cybersecurity challenges of the future.

See Something? Here’s where to say something.

The Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness encourages members of the public to submit Suspicious Activity Reports if they’ve witnessed activity that seems out of the ordinary. Tips can be made anonymously by phone (866-472-3365); e-mail ([email protected]); or the web (njohsp.gov/report-suspicious-activity).

OHSP also has a SAFE-NJ mobile app that lets the user upload photos of suspicious activity. Tips are sent to the office’s Counterterrorism Watch.

To learn about how the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness fights cyberterrorism, read “On The Frontline.

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