North Dakota warns about cyber attacks

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 5:39 PM CST
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Concerns over military warfare with Iran may have relaxed over the week, but there are growing concerns of a possible cyber attack.

Online threats are nothing new. Everybody gets fake emails from time to time. However, multiple state agencies are setting up defenses following a warning from the Department of Homeland Security.

Following threats between Iran and the U.S., many North Dakota agencies are on high alert for oncoming online attacks. Last week, the North Dakota University System emailed students, staff and faculty warning them about suspicious phone calls or emails.

"We see tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of threats on a regular basis that come through the network. And we secure them and respond to them if we need to. And then if there are any anomalies, we search them, we seek them out,” said NDUS Vice Chancellor Darin King.

These concerns go further than higher education. The North Dakota Information Technology Department has seen a 300 percent increase in cyberattacks just in the last year. From 5 million a month, to more than 15 million.

"These are pretty considerable things. Even though they seem benign, even though it’s just simple things that they're going after, it can be exceedingly costly for the state to be able to manage and clean up,” said Shawn Riley of ITD.

Threats go beyond a computer virus or websites being inaccessible. Dozens of states have reported cyberattacks. Louisiana declared two Statewide Emergency Declarations because of attacks.

If you are a state employee and receive an email that seems suspicious or asks you for personal information, play it safe and contact tech support before responding or clicking on suspicious links.