The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center is out with a new warning about a sophisticated series of widespread cyberattacks.

A number of sectors are being targeted, including communications, energy, healthcare, information technology and manufacturing.

“If you look at New Jersey and our digital density, we know that attacks happen throughout these sectors all the time,” said Michael Geraghty, the director of Cybersecurity at the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

And it’s not just the private sector being targeted.

“Whether it’s government, municipal, county, state, healthcare — it’s also retail, it’s every other sector, and they’re constantly under attack,” he said.

In response, Geraghty said the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell is stepping up efforts to help companies and governments large and small protect themselves.

He stressed no matter what kind of business you’re talking about, having a strong information security program is key, which means “it’s layered; it has administrative controls, which are policies on how we’re going to do things; there’s governance to it.”

But you also need technical controls.

“It may be encrypting data, it may be anti-virus controls and firewalls and the like,” he said

“But also you need physical controls, making sure that nobody can just walk up to a computer or system or a network device and have access to it.”

Geraghty said “one of the biggest areas that I would suggest is making sure we segment the critical sensitive networks from the rest of the corporate network, or the unsensitive network.”

He pointed out one way to increase security is by using what’s called privileged identity management.

“Those that have access to sensitive systems are required to authenticate using multi-factor identification, which may be a password along with biometrics,” he said.

“In this way, even if a password is compromised, the bad actors would not be able to use that privileged users account.”

The motive in most cyberattacks is financial, but sometimes it terror related or just to steal intellectual property.

“The means, the motive, the opportunity, those three things that we see with any traditional crime, we also see in the cybersecurity realm and it’s up to us to limit those opportunities,” he said.

So who’s behind these attacks?

“By and large, you don’t need to be a nation state or a sophisticated actor, it’s not necessarily just Chinese or Russians, it can be anyone," he said.

The New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell puts out regular alerts to keep Garden State companies and governments aware of the ever-changing threat landscape.

“The bad actors take advantage of the weakest link in the chain, so those may be the ones that are unaware,” he said.

Geraghty added a lot of the attacks being seen right now are coming through third parties, which is significant because “we’re using cloud technologies, we’re using third party technologies, so we need to make sure those third parties that we do business with are as secure as we are.”

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