Updated 06/06/2012 05:47 PM
Avoiding cyber threats
Fears that millions of passwords were hacked from a global networking web site this week has many searching for ways to better protect themselves online. And the state's annual Cyber Security conference may have some solutions. YNN's Solomon Syed checked it out Wednesday and has more on what you can do to stay safe and how some schools are tailoring their programs to growing problem.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Surfing the net is a way of life for millions of New Yorkers. Unfortunately, the same can be said for computer hackers.
"The hacker is not really the individual anymore, it's more often than not a member of an organized group," said Thomas Smith, the State Office of Cyber Security Director.
The more sophisticated the hackers get, the bigger their targets. Web reports swirled Wednesday that as many as 6.5 million passwords were lifted from the career and social-networking site "Linked In," which security experts fear might expose thousands of users to cyber crime.
"The big problem there is that if these passwords have been used for other things, like say Facebook, banking, then bad people could essentially compromise your other accounts by those compromised passwords from linked in," says Mike Stamas, of Troy-based GreyCastle Security.
There's no doubt the computer age has opened windows for crime opportunities, but as firms seek to shut it down, it's also opening up more career options.
Excelsior College in Albany is one of many institutions that now offer degree programs in Cyber Security.
"30,000 jobs will be created over the next five years in cyber security, so academically, we want to provide content and coursework that meets those needs for professionals, government and corporate level," said Andre Adams, a representative from the school.
But experts say the easiest way for you at home to protect your vital information is to simply switch it up while you're surfing.
"Don't use the same password for every account, it's really a big problem," said Stamas. "Have something unique for each account. Not so difficult that you can't remember it, but something unique so that if someone's password is compromised, all your other online properties are still secure."