Rising threat of cybercrime has claimed its first life

in October 8th, 2021

Here's what we emailed October 8, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.

Once primarily a concern for businesses, cyberattacks are now everywhere we look. From police departments to food suppliers to construction companies (who recently cited cyber risks as their number one business concern), these digital threats are quickly devolving into dangerous outcomes.

  • In 2019, a ransomware attack disabled hospital computers for eight days and a death might be pinned on it. Without the computer system, heart monitors failed to alert healthcare workers when a newborn baby‚Äôs umbilical cord wrapped around her neck during delivery. The baby was later diagnosed with severe brain damage and died nine months after. If proven in court next year, the death would be the first from a ransomware attack.
  • Last month, we reported on¬†ransomware attacks at schools¬†revealing sensitive student information online, including name, date of birth, social security numbers, health records, and even if they're an immigrant, homeless, or economically challenged. Worse still, students may not realize their sensitive data was exposed and used until they apply for credit as adults and are forced to deal with the fraud.

And the threat is only growing, with a new report showing a 40% increase in global cybercrime. While Africa continues to be the primary location of such attacks, the biggest rise in crime from 2020 to 2021 was in the U.S. and Europe.

Both are now launching efforts to improve prevention and response to attacks. Europe‚Äôs proposal includes the creation of rapid response teams that can ask other countries for help during cyber attacks. The U.S. is also looking into a global approach alongside domestic efforts, including a 100‚ÄĎday initiative to improve cybersecurity in the U.S. electric power system. So far, 150 utility companies have deployed cybersecurity protections.

But how do we protect ourselves?

  • Learn about phishing and how to recognize attempts. No security system can prevent a trusted account willingly providing a bad actor with access.
  • Maintain offline, encrypted backup files for important data.
  • Keep devices and software updated and regularly scan¬†them for vulnerabilities with security software.
  • Read tips on how to stay secure¬†from security software companies like McAfee.
  • And protect kids by freezing their credit¬†until they‚Äôre ready to use it as adults.

ūü騬†Take Action

Still a little lost? The most important step you can take today is to better understand what exactly the digital threat is, including terminology, tools, and tips.

Resource Center:

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Dad, what are clouds made of?

Servers, data, a constant threat to our privacy, really.

Art Credit: ASCII Art Archive

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