GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Gov. Roy Cooper signed Executive Order number 254 on Wednesday, formally establishing the State of North Carolina Joint Cybersecurity Task Force.

Response efforts will include both remote assistance and support for affected entities.

“It’s going to allow us to truly come alongside our critical infrastructure and key resources partners, both in the public and private sectors, to demonstrate and provide capabilities where there may not be capabilities to defend themselves. And also information sharing is absolutely essential,” said State Chief Risk Officer for NC Department of Information, Rob Main.

One Source Communications’ headquarters is based in Greenville. Senior Director of IT and security of One Source Communications, Chris Hope, said cyberattacks now target smaller businesses. That’s a change from the early 2000s and 2010 when cyberattacks would happen to large organizations.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only increased cyberattack threats.

“While they may not be directly sponsored by the Russian government or Moscow, they are using the activities and the interest and the engagement and the focus on the war in Ukraine as a smokescreen to conduct criminal activities that go unnoticed on reported under the wire,” said Hope. “And so we have seen a pretty dramatic uptick in targets and attacks over the past month.”

Hope said if being cyber attacked, it usually requires paying a ransom to get data back. And after being cyber attacked once, there’s a chance of being attacked again.

But the harder it is to get targets, the less likely it will happen. Some ways to reduce the chance of being cyber attacked as a business is to have cybersecurity insurance. Hope said to go ahead and look at insurance options now, before going into crisis mode.

It’s also encouraged to have multi-factor authentication set up and do not have simple passwords or similar passwords on different devices.

“Rather than trying to control the things we can’t, let’s focus on those pieces that we can implement those small steps now,” said Hope.

Criminals conducting attacks aren’t interested in challenging targets. They are going to pivot to somebody who is not taking precautions or making basic changes, Hope said.