The rate at which sensitive data gets compromised is growing exponentially. In a recent series of tech articles, the Wall Street Journal examined how people in the public and private spheres are vulnerable to and seriously impacted by various cyber-attacks. Governments experience losses of upwards of fifty-thousand dollars from ransomware attacks, and that is just in ransom alone. Corporations are wrestling with protecting computer and network supply chains from information-stealing software. And individuals must now contend with new methods of phone hacking, such as when hackers swap SIM cards. The answer? An alternative secure communications channel that runs independently from your public, private or individual networks.
On Tuesday, May 7, Baltimore city employees came into work to find that their computer screens were locked. “We’ve been watching you for days,” the message on their screens read, “We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up!” The city of Baltimore had been hit by a ransomware attack; the hackers were demanding $100,000 in bitcoin to release their files.
In 2018 technology touches nearly every aspect of our life. But no innovation seems to come without some form of drawback or compromise. While technology has undoubtedly improved most of our lives, it has also brought new risks that we all find a way to balance – or in some cases choose to ignore. The number of cybersecurity breaches in 2018 speak to this risk.
The DNC email leak in 2016 revealed just how insecure email communications can be. It should be no surprise that government officials have been turning to other, more secure mediums, to communicate. White House staffers have reportedly usedthe encryption app Confide to communicate, French president Macron’s inner circle has reliedonTelegram, and former Australia Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull turned to Wickr and Whatsapp. But as government messaging solutions go, such tools are limited, and in most cases not as secure as one might think. They may offer encryption but they fail to secure messages on devices and don’t address critical compliance issues related to government communication.
On March 22nd the Atlanta Municipal government was targeted by a ransomware cyberattack. As governments become more reliant on technology, cyber security must be priority number one in ensuring that your services remain operational and the public you serve, and their data, remains safe.