Pretty scary situation with all these data breaches going on. It seems like every other week some data breach occurs at all levels of society from public companies, Fortune 500 companies, the entertainment industry, to Government agencies and highly classified information is compromised. This trend is accelerating and not much has been achieved in terms of putting a stop to it. All we hear is that cybercrime is hard to detect/ fight and that these attacks are coming from highly sophisticated individuals, organizations or even countries that put a high emphasis on these attacks to gain technology, money or compromise national security.
Most likely someone in your circle has been impacted by one of these cyberattacks because of the sheer number of records compromised- see chart below. Every time one of these breaches happen, one has to start asking if I was at that store or is there the possibility that I am included in the list of the affected company. With the recent attack to Anthem, which operates a number of divisions and is one of the largest health insurance organizations and I belong to, this is a very delicate situation and shows a trend of recent attacks. We used to hear how our health system here in the US had lagged behind and that it needed reform because it was very inefficient-not technology, but the system in general- in terms of how different organizations and physicians interacted with each other. Reform started a few years back to modernize the system and be more efficient, one of these modernizations being the all-important transition of medical files to electronic medical records so they could be shared by multiple parties and as a result provide better healthcare in a more efficient and less costly fashion. Guess what? Many of these records are now electronic and hackers have not lost anytime on this. Think of the amount of information that one of these records hold. Very frightening situation if they fall into the wrong hands, which is already happening.
Some recent attacks (last 18 months)
Anthem 80,000,000 Medical Records
Sony Pictures Contracts, salaries, budgets, emails
Staples 1,600,000 Credit Cards
Home Depot 56,000,000 Payment Cards
JP Morgan Chase 83,000,000 Households and small business
Comm. Health Systems 4,500,000 Personal Data
Michael’s stores 3,000,000 Payment Cards
Target 40,000,000 Debit and Credit cards
Cyberattacks, along with the increase of terrorism we are witnessing around the world constitute an alarming threat. These threats are on the rise and society as a whole around the globe have to unite to fight these menaces. This is serious matter that can destroy our way of life. Last week President Obama was here at Stanford University to address the issue of cybersecurity in a summit and this week the White House is hosting a world summit on Countering Violent Extremism. The problem so far with these summits-including the recent COP20 Global Warming summit in my hometown of Lima, Peru– is that there is a lot of talk but not much substance comes out of them in terms of deliverables on how to tackle the issues. Some steps are being seen to address the issues and let’s hope we see more concrete action in the near future.
Personally, I am in the process of developing a more efficient cyber-security strategy. Just think for a minute on how many passwords we have today to navigate around our frequented websites, be for work or play. A strategy is needed to juggle high and low sensitive passwords and authentication for different sites depending on risk, like financial transactions, social security and retirement, house alarms, social media, work related software’s, etc. It is very overwhelming to say the least on how to manage all these passwords in an orderly fashion and remember them every time we need to login. In today’s world, when everything is being done on the go and remotely, the possibilities for a hacker to break into your house, bank account or retirement fund are very real. The more I think about it, the more of an issue I think it has become and we cannot be passive anymore. We need a strategy, especially if you have a lot to lose in capital, assets, or classified information.
Let’s be more proactive about cyber security