Internet Safety Update: USA vs Iranian hackers; how do you stay safe? | Business & Energy | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

A client wrote me concerned about the Department of Homeland Security issuing a warning that Iran could be launching a cyberattack against the United States, one that could possibly disrupt critical infrastructure. She wondered, what should regular computer and Internet users do to protect themselves?

She was right. The DHS Homeland Threat Assessment for 2024 states, “Iranian government cyber actors continue to employ social engineering tactics, utilize easily accessible scanning and computer hacking tools, and exploit publicly known software and hardware vulnerabilities to conduct cyber espionage against US critical infrastructure entities.”

Is this something new that’s developed? No. Is it cause for concern? Yes.

Do you know how to stay safe on the Internet? If you don’t know the answers to the following simple questions, it’s time to get with the program and learn.

Everyone from kids to grandparents needs to know: why do computers need updates? How do I use my antivirus program? What makes a good password? How do I pick security questions? What is a “browser,” and which one should I use? How can I know which websites are safe? How can I identify scam emails? How do I “clean” my computer? How can I know if my Wifi is safe? How do online con artists trick so many people?

Cyberattacks from Iran and other nations are a real and credible threat. They happen thousands of times every day. Despite what you may think, the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t just issue warnings willy-nilly without good reasons for doing so. First, though, it is good to understand what a “cyberattack” actually is, and who the bad guys are targeting, in the first place.

In its general usage, a “cyber” attack is activity using computers and the Internet to cause harm. So-called “nation states” like Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and the United States have been “cyberattacking” each other like crazy for many years. Usually, these attacks are directed at government and military installations, as well as “infrastructure” entities like power companies and public utilities. Sometimes, nation-states cyberattack large companies and corporations.

Organized crime cartels engage in massive cyberattacks, too, but they are not seeking military dominance or political power, per se. Instead, they are mainly interested in one thing: money. As such, they will and do attack anyone and everyone on the Internet, all the way from giant government installations down to Mom-and-Pop email users and Netflix watchers. As long as there is money to be made, they don’t care who they go after.

Whether it’s online political warfare between nations, or Internet theft and robbery, cyberattacks usually succeed using one or both of two methods: (1) invading poorly maintained computers with lousy security, or, (2) tricking and deceiving people into giving up information and opening the doors so the bad guys can just waltz right in. Attack One is often called “hacking.” Attack Two is more like cyber-sleight-of-hand con man trickery, without much real “hacking” going on, at all. It’s like the difference between skillfully picking a lock, or skillfully tricking the lock’s owner into handing over the key.

The defenses against cyberattacks are essentially the same, too, whether defending against nut-jobs with a political agenda, or Internet crooks determined to rob you blind. Attack One is often deployed by testing for computers and online accounts that have not been updated, or that have been poorly setup and configured. Attack Two is based largely on fake emails, bogus websites, and sketchy social networking scenarios.

Internet Safety Expert

Educating yourself on how to stay Internet safe is not difficult to do; you just make up your mind and do it. Stay tuned for information on free Internet safety classes I offer at local venues. Take a look at to learn about my Internet safety book titled, “Fight The Internet Bad Guys & Win!” Keep reading my column in this newspaper and stay safe!

Dave Moore has been fixing computers in Oklahoma since 1984. Founder of the non-profit Internet Safety Group Ltd., he also teaches Internet safety community training workshops. He can be reached at 405-919-9901 or

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