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Brad Spiegel on 11Alive News in Atlanta & 13WMAZ in Macon

The following appeared on 11ALIVE News Atlanta & 13WMAZ:
After Atlanta cyber attack, expert offers tips to stay safe online
Brad Spiegel, owner of Quality Computer Systems, says ransomware is one of the major threats on the internet today.
A cyber attack took down part of the city of Atlanta's infrastructure last week.
Now, a Macon computer expert is offering advice on how you can stay safe on the internet.
Brad Spiegel says what happened to our neighbor to the north is no joke.
"Somebody big like the Atlanta city getting hit by ransomware is definitely concerning," said Spiegel, the owner of Quality Computer Systems in Macon.
He says he's been working in tech for decades and he spent part of his day explaining how ransomware works.
He says the whole thing can be done sitting at home, with something as small as a USB drive.
"What somebody does is they take that software that's on that flash drive, creates their own key for it, and sends it to you as a file," said Spiegel.
Now, Spiegel says that's not the only form of ransomware, but it is one of the simplest.
According to him, that dangerous file usually comes in the form of a suspicious email attachment.
If you open it, the software can lock you out of your computer and force you to pay a ransom to the hacker to have it unlocked--or worse.
Spiegel says he's seen many "very sad situations where...people's data is gone."
However, he says that doesn't have to happen to you. According to Spiegel, there are there proactive steps you can take to reduce the chances you become a cyber thief's next victim.
First, he says it's important to always back up your machine with a service like Dropbox or a device like an external hard drive. However, he says if you opt for an external hard drive, it's important that you don't leave it constantly connected to your computer. If you do, ransomware can infect the external device just like the rest of the computer.
Second, Spiegel urges people to not open suspicious emails or attachments. He says a lot of ransomware is transmitted that way, and once the attachment is opened it can immediately begin encrypting your system.
Finally, he says that "if you are going to be in a position where you're going to be prone to ransomware, private DNS is the way to go."
An example of a high risk profession would be something like a job placement firm, where employees spend a large part of the day opening resumes sent as email attachments.
Spiegel says private DNS is a special way to browse the internet that looks out for dangerous sites and it's usually available for purchase at local computer stores (like Quality Computer Systems). He says for personal users, it typically costs only a few dollars a month.
Spiegel says those three tips will help you keep your data safe while using the internet.