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Federal agencies warn of cyber threats after Russia sanctions

Avertium has a Cyber Fusion Center in Knoxville, where they assess and try to avoid cyber threats for their clients

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned organizations large and small to have their "shields up" against cyber threats. 

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced sanctions against Russia for their "unprovoked" invasion of Ukraine. 

The CISA said those sanctions may have consequences for critical infrastructure at home. 

Paul Caiazzo from Avertium, a cybersecurity company with a Cyber Fusion Center in Knoxville, said Russia has used Botnet and Hermetic Wiper attacks. 

A botnet takes important websites off of the internet and hermetic wipers look like ransomware, without the ransom. Caiazzo said hermetic wiper attacks will turn your device "into a brick."

Caiazzo said he doesn't think Russia will attack individuals or small businesses, but they can still feel the effects. 

"Let's say you own a local dry cleaner," Caiazzo said. "You're likely not going to be the target of an attack, but the company that supplies your chemicals very well may be." 

To protect themselves from attacks, Caiazzo said people should "first and foremost" set up multi-factor authentication. Accounts with that technology use another point of authentication to make sure you are the correct person logging into the account. 

The CISA also said people should make sure all of their software is up to date. They have more advice and free services on their website

Caiazzo said he doesn't want to fearmonger but thinks it's important for people and companies to be ready against cyber attacks. 

"They told everybody to put their cyber shields up for a very good reason," Caiazzo said. "Where there's smoke, there's fire and preparedness is absolutely key right now."