Where did we take you in 2019?

Where did you go with Archer News this year?

Around the country and across the seas to show you new research and ideas on cybersecurity, so you can stay safer and smarter in your digital world.

Here’s a look at where we went together — and highlights of what we learned.

Look for your industrial year in review here tomorrow.

Watch here:


New in 2019

This year, we moved into a new studio in Portland, Oregon, with a new interview set and a new green screen.

But we spent much of our time in 2019 on the road, taking you to places around the world, from Portland to Mexico, Colombia, ArgentinaTurkey and even Latvia, in search of stories to help your digital health and safety.

Social Engineering Tricks

From Riga, Latvia, we brought you the advice of experts on how social engineers try to trick you online — and how to defend yourself.

“Don’t think it won’t be you,” cybersecurity expert Kieren Lovell told Archer News.

“What they’re trying to do is get your emotions high,” advised Jenny Radcliffe of The Human Factor. “So, I’m happy because I’ve got a discount. I’m a bit worried because I’ve got a parking ticket or a speeding ticket. Right?”



Learn from the Danish

In Denmark, we explored why Danish people have less malware on their computers than anyone else in the world and what you can learn from their success.

“Are Danish people smarter?” Archer News asked on the streets of Copenhagen.

“No, I don’t think we’re smarter,” answered one Danish man. “I just think that we know that we are not so lucky that we don’t just win, like, one million Euros suddenly out of the blue.”

Danes are taught to question authority, said Kåre Løvgren of the Danish Society of Engineers IT group, possibly leading them to be more skeptical of scam emails.


Ransomware Attacks

Next door, in Norway, one of the largest aluminum producers in the world fell victim to a massive ransomware attack in March, slowing things down at Hydro plants across the globe, including Portland, where a worker complained bitterly about the cyber attackers’ nasty deeds.

We told you how you can protect yourself from cyber hostage takers, including making backups, testing the backups and protecting the backups.

Plus, we talked about how ransomware really gets on your computer, unlike the claims of some national TV commercials.

“It’s bull sh-t” and “scare tactics” said Doug Jacobson, director of the Iowa State University Information Assurance Center, of PC Matic’s claim in a national ad that ransomware intruders are climbing into our computers through “foreign made, black list antivirus.”

Ransomware hit more than 70 cities and states in the U.S. in 2019, and more than 1,000 U.S. schools.


Critical Machines

This year, you saw new developments in how people attack — and protect — the crucial machines that move your world.

Hackers of all kinds are focusing their energy on one of the basic building blocks of critical infrastructure, the PLC or programmable logic controller.

Control these devices, and you can control traffic lights, power plants, water, gas and more.

You learned about the March 5 cyberattack on the U.S. power grid — and why some experts say it may have been a random attack, and about a new bill working its way through Washington, D.C., that would direct researchers to look at lower-tech solutions to cyberattacks on the power grid, as well as new, high tech answers.

We showed you how solar power is opening up new targets for cyberattacks, and how malware landed on computers at a very sensitive location — a nuclear plant.



Everything is Hackable

From Hawaii, we brought you new information on how hackers can manipulate alerts and warning systems to manipulate you.

In California, how your smart home can be hacked and what to do about it — and how your farms and foods can be hacked as well.

“You’ve now automated the entire food production system,” said Trend Micro’s Bill Malik. “We’re building a system that is inherently brittle, right? And that means we are putting ourselves at risk.”

In New Orleans, we saw start ups trying to bring you more security in your car.

In Miami, you learned how hackers can take over construction cranes and cause damage.

“Maybe he’ll help them build whatever they’re building,” said Trend Micro researcher Stephen Hilt. “An attacker doesn’t usually really want to help too much. They want to kind of destroy and break things.”

“You might purchase a piece of radio equipment or piece of tech and just kind of make the assumption that it should be secure,” fellow researcher Jonathan Andersson told Archer News. “That’s not always the case.”


Fake Job Emails

In New York, Archer News tracked down the sender of obnoxious, fake Walmart job interview ads designed to trick you into clicking and giving up your personal information. In return, the sender may bombard you with even more deceptive emails.

Despite the vague and misleading business info in the emails, we located the people behind the company, Start A Career Today, at another company called Fluent on the waterfront across from the Statue of Liberty.

“Thank you for bringing the emails to our attention,” said Fluent’s head of compliance, Dan Barsky. “We identified the problem. We use third-party email publishers. We’ve stopped the emails and they’re no longer going out.”

Within hours of our conversation, we received more deceptive emails from Start A Career Today.

In fact, they continued for weeks.

See our story for ways to protect yourself.


Kids’ Watches

From Australia, we brought you a warning for parents about kids’ tracker watches that can let hackers talk to your kids directly, pretending to be you.

Cybersecurity expert Troy Hunt volunteered for an experiment, in which a researcher from Britain called Hunt’s daughter on her kids’ tracker watch in her bedroom in Australia.

“Hello, Elle,” the hacker said through her watch.

“Hi,” she responded, sitting on her bed. “Who are you?”

“I am Vangelis from the other part of the world,” he said.

Hunt had briefed Elle on the experiment, but still found it creepy.

“It was a very bizarre experience,” he said.

Parents can also get advice from a hacker dad and get tips on how to talk to their kids about cybersecurity.


The Lighter Side

Cybersecurity isn’t always serious.

You can learn about hacks through movies and comedy.

We topped off the year with Cybersecurity Mad Libs to make you smarter — and make you smile at the same time.

Enjoy them — and here’s to more great stories in 2020!


Cybersecurity Mad Libs 1

Cybersecurity Mad Libs 2

Cybersecurity Mad Libs 3 

Cybersecurity Mad Libs 4 


Main image: Beach near the Archer News Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, office. Image: Archer News

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