The threat of cyberattacks, especially from nation-state hackers, has grown exponentially over the last decade. As the number of data breaches in 2021 has surpassed that of 2020, Cybersecurity Ventures analysis predicts that there will be a new attack every 2 seconds as ransomware perpetrators progressively refine their malware payloads and related extortion activities.
We should not only be concerned about the number of attacks, but also that hackers are becoming more systematic in their targeting. These attacks, directed at all levels of government and businesses, across countless industries, are resulting in data and property destruction, and theft of proprietary data, intellectual property, and sensitive financial information. The bottom line is that no individual or organization should think they are immune from cyberthreats.
Consider the 2019 cyberattack of SolarWinds, a major U.S. technology firm. According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the attack on SolarWinds was dramatic and extensive because when Russian hackers penetrated the firm’s software development environment, they installed malware that the company inadvertently pushed out to its customers via security patch downloads. The company estimates that approximately 18,000 of its customers were infected with the Russian malware. Extrication of this malware took more than a year to complete and cost the U.S. government hundreds of millions of dollars.
Cybersecurity awareness and prevention is the responsibility of everyone.
We can all play a part in the defense of our personal data and our employers’ network and digital assets. Polls indicate that about two-thirds of Americans say they are very or extremely concerned about cyberthreats. We must learn to turn that concern into action.