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Basic Cybersecurity Actions for Your Engineering Firm

Dale Wuokko, P.E.

Whether you are an owner, manager, or engineer at an engineering firm, cybersecurity should be a basic part of everyday business. Engineering firms today make extensive use of computer systems and software to maintain a website, prepare project bid documents, develop project estimates and schedules, prepare contracts, conduct data and literature research, perform complex engineering calculations, prepare computer-aided designs, prepare engineering drawings, track project progress, prepare bills of materials, maintain email contact with customers, bill customers, etc. Engineers can now use computers and specialty software to design, test and make changes to products efficiently and in a minimal amount of time. In addition, today’s use of the Internet allows engineering businesses from any location to enter new and wider markets. The use and reliability of computer information technology are crucial to an engineering firm’s success.

However, information technology systems are increasingly under cyberattack. In May 2017 the malicious “WannaCrypt” (also known as “WannaCry”) malware targeting Microsoft Windows operating systems spread across the globe. This cyberattack infected computers by encrypting data and preventing users from accessing their data unless they paid a ransom to the perpetrators using Bitcoin to obtain the decryption key. Earlier in March Microsoft had issued a security update to patch this vulnerability. However, many computers remained unpatched and, as a result, hospitals, businesses, governments, and computers at homes were affected. This included unpatched software at some engineering firms and their vendors.

Overall, the theft of digital information has now reportedly become the most commonly reported fraud, even exceeding physical theft. The Ponemon Institute’s 2017 State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses report identified that 61 percent of businesses experienced a cyberattack in 2017, signifying a 6 percent increase from the previous year. According, it is imperative that every engineering firm, regardless of size, should have a cybersecurity action plan, even if it is simply using email and maintaining a website, in order to maintain secure business operations. The purpose of this course is to provide a discussion of basic cybersecurity actions for implementation at engineering firms.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.