All posts by tylersonnemaker2019

Taking command of cyber risks: Tips and tools you can use now

A guide to keeping your digital information exactly that: yours

By Tyler Sonnemaker
Medill Reports

Has your personal information leaked in a data breach? (Not sure? Use this tool to find out). How about passwords — still using “password” or “123456” for everything? Do you want to keep prying eyes away from health records, personal finances or information about your children?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions and want to better protect yourself online, this guide is for you. If you’re still wondering why you should care about cybersecurity or privacy, learn how tracking and hacking can impact even average internet users. Continue reading

Facing inevitable data breaches and new privacy laws, companies shift focus to response

By Tyler Sonnemaker
Medill Reports

The number of data breaches has skyrocketed in recent years, with high-profile incidents involving major companies such as Facebook and Uber, financial institutions and government agencies. According to a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, 1,579 incidents — involving nearly 179 million records — occurred in 2017 alone.

That amounts to more than four incidents per day, and there are likely many more that go undetected. As a result, hundreds of millions of people have had their personal information stolen. Continue reading

Traffic never jams at Chicago’s busiest internet intersection

By Tyler Sonnemaker
Medill Reports

Remember when you used to order DVDs from Netflix and discs would arrive within a week or two? When you added a movie to your queue, Netflix would locate a physical copy in one of its distribution centers, load the DVD on a truck and then ship it to your house in a signature red envelope.

Most people stream movies now, but that data still gets delivered to your device from somewhere else. It has a physical address, and that address might not be as far away as you think. Continue reading

Multiple federal agencies hit by wave of possible Iran-linked cyberattacks

By Tyler Sonnemaker
Medill Reports

The Department of Homeland Security last week instructed all federal civilian agencies to take immediate actions to address “significant and imminent risks to agency information and information systems” resulting from an ongoing wave of cyberattacks.

In an emergency directive issued Jan. 22, DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said it is aware of “multiple executive branch agency domains” impacted by the campaign and has notified the agencies that maintain them.

FireEye, a cybersecurity firm based in California, indicated it had identified attacks that affected at least 50 government, telecommunications and internet infrastructure entities globally on an “almost unprecedented scale,” according to a company blog post published Jan. 9.

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Daughters of Oscar Brown Jr. preserve his legacy with cyber-themed musical

Tyler Sonnemaker
Medill Reports

In the nineties, Chicago entertainment legend Oscar Brown Jr. began working on a musical about morality in the digital age. While many of his predictions remain relevant today, his daughters, Maggie and Africa, are advancing his vision posthumously through their production of CYBERSOUL, a computer-generated musical.

Photo at top: Maggie and Africa Brown present CYBERSOUL at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. (Tyler Sonnemaker/MEDILL)

Tracked and hacked: Why every internet user should care about cybersecurity and digital privacy

By Tyler Sonnemaker
Medill Reports

Consider all the digital devices you use. Smartphones and tablets. Smart TVs and speakers. Wi-Fi routers and cable boxes. Wearable technology and health trackers. Video game systems. Wireless connections to printers, refrigerators, thermostats, home security systems and other smart appliances. Even cars with onboard computers.

If it’s connected to a network  – and sometimes even if it’s not – your device can be hacked or monitored by anyone from advertisers to criminals to governments. The more devices you use, the more you’re at risk. And once data is collected or intercepted by a third party — whether or not you volunteered it — it can be used against you and you likely won’t be able to do much about it.

Concerned yet? If not, try entering your email into HaveIBeenPwned, a free service created by Microsoft Regional Director and security researcher Troy Hunt to assess whether your online accounts have been compromised. Just last week, Hunt added a collection of nearly 773 million unique email accounts exposed through breaches. By this point, most people have heard about — or been affected by — high-profile data breaches, cyber-attacks, or unwanted data collection. In the past few years, Facebook, Google, Uber, Equifax, Yahoo, Adult Friend Finder, Target, Under Armor and eBay had breaches involving tens and even hundreds of millions of accounts. People also voluntarily offer information without fully knowing what’s being collected or how it’s being used (think Google searches, location data, or car and home loans).

These products and services often offer us extreme convenience in exchange for our information.  In comparison, changing our cybersecurity practices may seem too inconvenient or confusing. And people might think they don’t have any data worth protecting.

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