×

Maui students focused on cyberattacks

Free talk given during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Jason Huynh, Seabury Hall senior, prepares for a talk on cybersecurity Saturday at Kahului Public Library. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photos

KAHULUI — Do not click to win a $1,000 Amazon gift card. Do not spin the wheel that just popped up onscreen. And definitely do not use the word “password” as a password.

“Especially in today’s society, there are so many ways that we can experience the downsides of lack of security in the cyber world,” said Bonnie McCrystal, local coach for Cyberpatriot, a national youth cyber education program.

Important cyber practices were discussed during a free talk called “Safe and Secure: Protecting Yourself on the Internet” for youth and adults at Kahului Library on Saturday. The presentation, offered by McCrystal’s Cyberpatriot group of Seabury Hall students, coincides with October’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Cyberattacks and breaches are growing in frequency, and losses are rising, authorities say. Breaches hit a new record in 2017, with 1,632 breaches tracked, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

Because no one is exempt from being targeted, the best way to protect information is to be proactive, presenters said Saturday.

Cybersecurity presenters and Seabury Hall students William Judge (from left), 7th grade, Jack Bendon, 7th grade, and Jamie Nees, 8th grade, are introduced Saturday at Kahului Public Library.

A main guard against cyberattacks is creating a strong password and changing it every 90 days.

Presenter Jason Huynh said to write a password with qualities that make it difficult to crack using a combination of capital letters, punctuation and special characters, such as an ampersand or asterisk.

“A weak password is most common way that people can hack your computer,” he said.

Check the strength of a password by entering it at www.howsecureismypassword.net, a website that predicts the time it will take to hack, the group said.

Also, create a password that is at least eight characters or more, presenter William Judge said.

Bonnie McCrystal - Cyberpatriot coach

“Nothing good will happen if you don’t have a secure password,” he said. “It’s very important you don’t use the same password for all of your things even if it’s a very strong password. If (hackers) break that one password, they have access to all of your stuff.”

The group said the top three worst, and most common, passwords are “12345678,” “123456789” and “password.”

Presenters said to use the old-school pen and paper to write down passwords for storing.

The group also gave an overview on scams that include malware and phishing. They often come in the form of fake emergencies, false promises, bogus investments, fabricated prizes, deceptive money offers and phony lotteries.

“If you’ve won a $1,000 Amazon gift card, it’s probably a scam,” Judge said.

McCrystal said that if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Presenter Jamie Nees talked about a recent download that notified her she’s the “5 billionth search to spin the wheel.” It told her she had won an iPhone X. She did not spin the wheel.

“They’re designed to entice you,” McCrystal said. “Who doesn’t want to spin the wheel to see if they’ve won?

Saturday’s program was supported by Center for Cyber Safety and Education, State of Hawaii, Department of Homeland Security, Hawaii State Library System and International Security Consortium.

Part of the Air Force Association, the Cyberpatriot program helps channel young people into cybersecurity careers. Five schools in Maui County have Cyberpatriot teams.

“Our group of kids and myself are the go-to team here on Maui when the folks at Department of Homeland Security on Oahu need some support and backing on the outer islands’ initiatives,” McCrystal said. “We always raise our hands; we are eager to do it and serve our community.”

The group’s top cybersecurity tips include the following:

• Create strong, unique passwords for every site

• Get antivirus protection and keep it updated

• Keep your computer software and device apps updated

• Be careful on public Wi-Fi connections

• Question what you see in emails and pop-ups

• Download and stream from proper sites only

• Don’t download or open attachments, or follow links, from an unknown source

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.