Anupam Joshi offers advice on limiting risk with internet-connected devices after far-reaching cyberattack

Last week’s cyber attack interrupted internet use for millions of people, and while this particular attack is likely over, the possibility of future similar attacks remains. Anupam Joshi, professor and chair of computer science and electrical engineering, and director of the Center for Cybersecurity at UMBC, explained what took place during the attack, and his ongoing concerns for the future, in a live interview on Maryland Public Television on October 24.

“Tens of millions of devices across the world were taken over…and then they were used to send fake traffic to this address book…denying legitimate users access to the devices’ services,” Joshi said of the attack.

Imagine you are in a grocery story, he explained. The recent cyber attack is like a flood of  people going to the grocery store, asking the cashier to check the price of an item, and then leaving the store without purchasing the item, tying up the system and making it impossible for you to purchase what you came to buy in the store. In the cyber world, this is called the “distributed denial of service,” noted Joshi.

Attacks of this nature can affect systems that rely on the internet to work properly and deliver certain services, such as cameras that monitor homes. “Increasingly, computing is embedding itself into our day-to-day lives,” he said, adding that cyber-physical systems like the power grid, driverless cars, and smart cities are all potentially subject to these kinds of attacks.

To minimize risk, consumers should be aware of and maintain control over their devices’ internet connectivity. “People should know that these kinds of devices have logins and passwords, and, of course, change them,” said Joshi.

Watch the full video segment on Maryland Public Television’s Direct Connection.