Submitted by Don Doman
With the recent world-wide cyber attack, we all need to be more aware of potential problems that could not only cost us money, but embarrass us and those we try to protect and assist.
On May 20th, National Public Radio presented the story of Cancer Services of East Central Indiana, a small Indiana Nonprofit that fell victim to the ransom cyberattack. The mission of Cancer Services of East Central Indiana is to “reduce the financial and emotional burdens of those dealing with a cancer diagnosis.” They do “good work” for people in their community, but it didn’t matter once an employee clicked on the wrong link, which opened the door to the hackers.
Ransomware products lock up the information on computers and only release it when they’ve been paid to a non-traceable on-line monetary account with Bitcoin. In this case the fee was approximately $43,000. When the organization couldn’t pay, the hackers mailed letters to supporters of Cancer Services of East Central Indiana.
If hackers have no sympathy for organizations that do good work, how much sympathy do you think they would have for individuals, small business firms, or corporations? The message is simple, “We have your data and if you want it back, it’s going to cost you.” We are all at risk. It’s like the old health department advice for combating infectious diseases, “No one is safe until everyone is safe.”
For most people the only protection is awareness and keeping your computer system up to date on anti-ransomware and malware protection software.
This wide scale attack is just the current issue. As the “Internet of Things” expands, we are going to see more and more households and business devices as well as simple hand tools and more become “smarter” with two-way connection via the internet. Imaging bad people hacking into systems to learn how often you buy pizza delivery, which could effect health care coverage or rates, or discovered a refill order for a tube of prescribed “ointment.”
Individuals and small businesses must remain vigilant and protect their identification by destroying documents either by their own shredding machines, or commercial shredding companies. Be extra careful with old computers, hard drives and other memory devices – have them professionally shredded. Individual computer owners should keep security software updated. Small businesses should not only follow the same advice, but also begin a working relationship with IT (Internet Technology) professionals. Larger firms and corporations need to have their own IT people and follow advice and drill home the information to never, never, never open an on-line link of which you are not sure is safe.
Get used to online security, it’s only going to get worse.