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Local expert gives tips on how to stay cyber-secure following Apple emergency security update

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Posted at 7:59 AM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 08:59:20-04

Hacking can be a problem in this constantly evolving world of smart-devices, but there are ways to keep information safe from prying eyes.

It's pretty common for people to have multiple smart devices these days. Anna Tlachac, Sturgeon Bay, has six of them.

"I have at home a smart TV, which when I was on virtual classes I used a lot to connect my computer to my TV," Tlachac said. "I have two laptops at home that I use both of them. A smart watch, which is also really convenient. I have an iPad and an iPhone."

Tlachac said a few of her friends' Facebook accounts have been hacked in the past. She said someone hacked into her debit card twice.

"I think everybody's worried about getting hacked," Tlachac said. "It's scary to think someone can just get all our information there at once and then lose everything."

Jayden Klarkowski, Pulaski, has two smart devices. While he said his accounts have never been hacked, Klarkowski said he has a few relatives who've had their Netflix accounts and debit cards hacked into.

Klarkowski said the idea of hacking can be "slightly concerning."

"I do use multiple passwords, but sometimes I overlap," Klarkowski said. "I mean, if they get one, they'll probably get all. I think I need to be a little more aware when it comes to media technology."

Apple issued emergency software updates Monday after security experts discovered a flaw that allowed invasive spyware from Israel’s NSO Group to infect anyone’s iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Mac computer in a "zero-click" exploit. The update fixes a flaw in the i-message software that allowed hackers to get into devices without that person even clicking on any links.

Ryan Van Scyoc, an IT systems & security instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, said the flaw allowed the spyware company to run whatever malicious code it wanted.

With current technology, Van Scyoc said hackers can get into devices people may not even think of.

"We often don't think of phones as something that is a target for hackers," Van Scyoc said. "Anything with a software can basically be attacked. As we move to the internet of things, a lot of these great things - light bulbs are now connecting to my WiFi. TVs are connecting to the internet. Any time we get that interconnectedness, we have to worry about how people might trick our light bulbs or our TVs into doing things."

Van Scyoc said that's where patches come into play.

"Software companies, like Samsung, Apple, Google, Microsoft, keep all their software up to date with patches to prevent bad things from happening," Van Scyoc said. "That's really the best message I can get out to stop something like this is make sure you're keeping your devices up to date."

He said while most people weren't at-risk from the invasive spyware that impacted some Apple devices, other hackers could use the code to target and attack others who haven't patched yet.

Van Scyoc said people can set up auto updates if they forget to check on their own. He said tech users should also create strong, long passwords that are different for every account and need to be sensitive with private information.