How to Stay Safe in Cyberspace

In a recent presentation at the 14th annual Dick Smyser Community Lecture Series held in the American Museum of Science and Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Director Thom Mason spoke on “Staying Safe on the Cyber Frontier.”

Mason focused his lecture on the recent ORNL computer system hacking, which was caused by the opening of one e-mail. And while the low-level hacker activity that compromised ORNL’s system wasn’t devastating, the main message of Mason’s lecture was clear: If the super secret birthplace of the atomic bomb can get hacked, then any business is susceptible.

Here’s what ORNL’s lab director had to say about the importance of cybersecurity.

“It could undermine the standard of living. There are rules of war but there are no rules in cyberspace,” Mason said of cyber hacking, according to a by Beverly Majors.

The main issue in cyberspace rests on the fact that businesses and countries now rely on computers to run the show. This includes banking, utility, and supply chain industries. Mason also believes entire countries are at risk because of unsafe cyber practices.

And while Mason specified that cyber attacks are opportunistic, “It’s about accessed information, a combination of technical espionage and industrial espionage. There are 60,000 new malicious attacks a day,” he said in the article. “Eighty percent of legitimate websites have been hacked or compromised.”

In the ORNL cyber attack, one innocent-looking e-mail caused a lot of havoc that could have even been worse. Mason advises businesses and individuals to look over e-mails closely before opening them. Make sure the e-mail address looks legitimate, investigate further if you see something addressed to “Dear All” or the like, and if coming from outside your company, take even more precautions.

Mason also cautioned about the use of social media sites. “They are great tools to communicate with friends and enemies,” he said. “(But) using those tools can make you a target.”

Mason said ORNL is actively engaged in cyber security, but said the general public should also be educated. And when using a home computer to pay bills, use a non-administrator account.

For more information about Mason’s lecture, visit: