U.S. Department of Energy Secretary and former Texas Governor Rick Perry recently put the problem of cyber-attacks and cyber security in perspective. Perry said cyber-attacks happen in this country by the hundreds of thousands of times per day.
The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company (HSB) did a poll on the impact of data breaches. The survey found:
• 34% of us have had our data breached because of a cyber attack
• 20% have had their ID stolen
• 38% said they didn’t know their ID was stolen
• 26% found it was stolen online
Timothy Zeilman is a vice president and counsel for HSB. He said the stats show the risks consumers are taking when they store their personal information online. “Data breaches continue to expose millions of Americans to identity theft and fraud. On the positive side, forty-eight states now require that affected individuals be notified and more consumers are taking advantage of credit monitoring and identity restoration services offered by businesses and insurers,” he said.
Zeilman said close to 62% of those experiencing data breaches have been offered credit monitoring and restoration services. Over 40% took advantage of the offers.
The problem is so great that President Trump has extended the national emergency enacted by President Obama in April of 2015. It was to have expired on April 1st. This continues the effort by the president to keep up the battle. In December of last year, he issued an executive order to address the problem.
“Significant malicious cyber-enabled activities continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,” the president said.
Adding to the president’s concern is that of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Neil Chatterjee. He said, “Cyberattacks have the potential to cause significant, widespread impacts on energy infrastructure. Sophisticated hacking tools are becoming more widely available, and cyber threats are constantly evolving, making such attacks more versatile.”
How much more versatile? Lots. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security say Russian hackers have been attacking the nation’s electric grid, power plants and airports as well as commercial businesses and manufacturers.
Perry said all of this is akin to an act of war. “We are making I think every effort to protect the electrical grid from those types of attacks. I agree the United States and the rest of the world need to send a very powerful message to Russia relative to some of their activities.”
He — again — reminds us that there are hundreds of thousands of attacks per day in this country. The latest and most noticed is the ransomware attack on the city of Atlanta. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the hackers want $51,000 but the city refuses to pay.
At the time this is written — Monday, April 2nd at 5pm, 10 days after the SamSam ransomware attack — much of the city’s government is still paralyzed. The attack hit five of the city’s 13 departments. Huge numbers of city records remain encrypted.
City Auditor Amanda Noble said everything on her hard drive is gone. Police records and important case notes are gone or inaccessible. A list of similar problems are being revealed in department after department.
Officials say a high percentage of the city’s records will never be recovered.
Experts on SamSam say it is an advanced form of mischief. It exploits vulnerabilities by guessing weak passwords and seeking out other weaknesses. Once it gains a foothold, SamSam spreads via remote desktop protocols, Java-based web servers, File Transfer Protocols etc.
SamSam’s hacking group has targeted 30 organizations so far in 2018 and has extorted more than $1 million. Ransomware hacks in 2016 took in more than $1 billion.
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