Cybersecurity

Brett Callow of Emsisoft

In April, Illinois Valley Community College’s servers shut down. It happened soon after COVID-19 closed down the campus and shifted classes online. Hackers locked the college out of its own networks. That caused its website and email system to crash. 

In the directory where files should be, the hackers left a message demanding cash for ransom.  

Flickr

Illinois Valley Community College recently had servers shut down by a cyberattack.

 

The school hired cybersecurity firms to get to the root of the ransomware and make sure confidential records are safe. 

 

The servers have been down since April 24. The school hopes to have more answers soon on how and why hackers got into their system. 

 

The attack primarily affected the college’s email servers, website and administrative software.

 

Peter Medlin

Early voting is open in Illinois. But five minutes before it opened on February 6, election integrity actually just sounds like a long receipt being printed out by a voting machine. That’s because it is. It has every race, every candidate, every party. 

And since voting starts less than five minutes from this moment...it all reads zero. 

“All of the numbers have to match every day,” said Jessica Rugerio, a deputy clerk in DeKalb County.

They compare the numbers to the paper ballots, no app required. 

An audit is criticizing cybersecurity practices at the Illinois State Board of Elections, but the board is taking issue with some of the findings.

Chase Cavanaugh

At the beginning of the school year, Rockford Public Schools experienced a ransomware cyberattack knocking out digital equipment across the district. More than a month later, the technology is still not all the way back.

The most important services, like their online grading and attendance systems just returned at the end of last week. But, whether they work perfectly or not can still be hit and miss.

Mel Gilfillan is the president of the Rockford Education Association. He said he’s been hearing similar concerns from teachers in the district.

Logo design by Spencer Tritt

Since returning to DeKalb a decade ago, Maurice McDavid has held many titles. Some call him their teacher, others call him their preacher. To some of his elementary school students, he even goes by his hip-hop moniker, Mr. McDizzle. But above all of that, he's trying to be an advocate in the town he was raised in.

Also on the show, a topic with both international and personal ramifications: cybersecurity.

Photo by Spencer Tritt

More than four billion private records were exposed by data breaches in the first half of 2019.

Illinois residents have seen their fair share of information compromises. In July, the state received a share of the Equifax settlement.

Pixabay

Cyber Monday has grown in popularity as companies offer online deals the Monday after Black Friday. As people use different platforms to make these purchases, their personal information may become vulnerable. On this week's Friday Forum, WNIJ's Jenna Dooley talks with an expert who teaches cybersecurity in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois.
 

John Bambenek says people who try to steal your information mimic brands you're familiar with. He suggests going directly to the websites where you want to make a purchase.

"Keyboard" By Flickr User Jeroen Bennink / (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a new law requiring state employees to take cyber security training.

It covers such topics as preventing and responding to data breaches, computer viruses, and identity theft. State Secretary of Innovation and Technology Hardik Bhatt said it’s important to safeguard the state’s network from cyber threats.  

"We are creating a secure enterprise," he said, "and we are training and we are giving the tools to our employees to understand how to keep everything safe, and they become the first line of defense. 

"170 - Typing" by Flickr User Hillary / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has unveiled a broad-based cybersecurity plan that would cost $1 billion to implement.

The Republican announced the plan Tuesday. He says protecting citizens from cyberattacks should be a priority even amid the state's fiscal crisis.

The framework outlines goals to protect state information systems. But it covers only executive branch agencies directly. It wouldn't have prevented incidents like the cyberattack on Illinois voter data last fall. Officials say no information was changed nor voting affected.

Hackers Expose Illinois Cybersecurity Holes

Feb 6, 2017
bluecoat.com

In 2016, the Illinois Board of Elections and the state Republican Party were victims of cybersecurity breaches. But uncertainty lingers as to what the hackers wanted and whether future attacks can be prevented. 

When Tim Soper received a letter from the Illinois Board of Elections in late September informing him that personal data from his voter registration may have been compromised in a cybersecurity breach, he chose to find the humor in the situation.