Governments Hard Pressed by Ransomware and Other Cyber Security Attacks

Governments Hard Pressed by Ransomware and Other Cyber Security Attacks

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Cyber security threats are growing by the day. As people come to rely more on their smartphones and other digital devices, hackers are increasing their efforts to steal data, IDs, and more. So far this year, countless American cities have been targeted by hackers.

In recent days, Pensacola, FL has been hit by a $1 million dollar ransom demand after hackers took down their computer network. This past summer, at least 22 Texas towns were hacked and targeted by a group hackers. A mayor of one of those cities said the attackers are asking for $2.5 million to unlock the files.

Baltimore, Albany, Atlanta, and various other cities have also been targeted. All told, at least 70 different state and local governments have been hit with cyberattacks this year. On top of that, hackers have been going after hospitals, non-profits, businesses, and more.

Cybersecurity Attacks Carry a High Price Tag

The costs are mind-boggling. A single malware attack costs an average of $2.6 million, while a ransomware attack costs an average of $646,000 per breach. Web-based attacks, Denial of service (DOS), and malicious insiders can each cost organizations north of $1 million per attack. Further, from 2019 to 2023, experts believe that as much as $5.3 trillion dollars have been lost due to cyberattacks.

While governments have been generally tight-lipped about their losses, it’s quite possible that the costs are even higher. Even if a small local government is hacked, sensitive data for hundreds or even thousands of people could be exposed. Confidential contracts, financial accounts, and various other assets could be put at risk.

Hackers are aware of the stakes. That’s why so many are pouring resources into hacking governments, businesses, and the like. And while some organizations are being proactive and addressing security gaps, many are falling behind and remain vulnerable.

Governments, Companies, and Others Now Being Held Ransom

So-called “ransomware” has emerged as one of the most popular tools for hackers. How does it work? Basically, malware infects your computer and then encrypts your files. If you want to regain access to your files, you’ll have to pay an actual ransom to the cyber criminals. Usually, payments are made through Bitcoin and other hard to track methods.

Experts believe that at least 948 governments, healthcare providers, and educational institutions alone were targeted by ransomware attacks this year. The potential costs of these attacks is believed to have reached or topped $7.5 billion dollars.

Beyond the financial costs, the impact of these attacks can be even higher. Medical records have been lost, resold, or manipulated. Plus, other forms of sensitive content could be exposed or destroyed.

In response to these types attacks, many cities and organizations have pledged not to pay ransoms. But, that isn’t always the case. Some cities have opted to pay the hackers as their ransoms cost less than having to revamp their entire network comprised of new and legacy systems.

Nonetheless, hackers have responded with renewed threats. Now, not only will hackers encrypt sensitive data, they could also steal that data and make it public. Once this occurs, the damage will spread and countless innocent citizens could be impacted.

Risks Will Only Increase in the Future

Sadly, 2020 could bring even more pain and hackers could grow more sophisticated in their attacks. First, people are going to continue to become more reliant on digital devices. And, with the Internet-of-Things (IoT), an increasing number of devices, including your coffee pot, fridge, and more, will be plugged into the World Wide Web.

On the one hand, IoT could usher in a lot of convenience for consumers. However, it also creates more access points for hackers. As 5G rolls out, more devices will have the necessary speed to access the Internet. Again, great for convenience but also great for hackers.

Meanwhile, hackers are even starting to use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other advanced tools to probe for weaknesses and conduct attacks. This will speed up the big data race and soon even companies that take security seriously will be hard pressed to keep up.

The increasing propensity of cyberattacks and increased risks help explain why more governments, agencies, and other authorities are rolling out stricter security protocols and requirements. For individuals, businesses, and organizations, following these new requirements is often mandatory. For instance, take the GDPR, the CCPA, and a host of other regulations that countries and states are now rolling out.

Final Thought

There is no magic pill to stop sophisticated ransomware threats. But, if you can work with the right partner to detect ransomware before it proliferates, then you might have a fighting chance.

Reach out to us and see how we can help and ensure that your network is protected and running at full strength. Please make sure you have your Windows 10 and Cyber Security upgrades completed by now! Call us at 201-402-1900 or email us at [email protected]it.com.