Now that it’s the fall season and leaves are turning colors and dropping from the trees, it’s time for the two most important annual events of October. The first event is the last day of the month—Halloween—and the second event lasts all month. What is the second event? It’s the 18th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM)! National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a joint effort of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency(CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), and the event’s goal is to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity across the United States and help provide Americans with the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.
Because personal, corporate, and government cybersecurity is so important, on May 12, 2021, the U.S. President signed an executive order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity and protect federal government networks. Cyber crime is a huge problem for people, companies, and governments worldwide. Digital crime costs its victims billions of dollars in financial losses, along with the enormous additional losses of time and effort needed to try to repair the damage it causes and prevent future attacks from occurring. Cyber crime attacks people of all ages, but especially older citizens, who may have more money and less knowledge about the technology they use, which leads to them being victimized more than many other age groups.
This blog post is blending the two events mentioned above by featuring its first ever scary National Cybersecurity Month facts for Halloween. It’s time to lock your doors and windows, check your antivirus software on your computer, make certain your Virtual Private Network is active, remember to not respond to emails, text messages or calls from people and companies you don’t know, turn out the lights and turn on your flashlight—and find out how terrifying cybercrime is and why cybersecurity is so important:
The temporary closure in May 2021 of a major U.S. pipeline due to a ransomware attack led to panic-buying of gasoline, which then helped create gas shortages across multiple Southeastern states and gasoline price hikes. The pipeline supplies a major portion of the country’s gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 2020 Internet Crime Report noted that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received complaints of Internet crime losses exceeding $4.1 billion in 2020.
The FBI’s 2020 report also highlighted that last year phishing scams were also prominent, with adjusted losses of over $54 million.
In 2020, the IC3 received 105,301 complaints from victims over the age of 60 with total losses of more than $966 million.
A municipal water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida, was remotely attacked by a hacker in early February 2021. After gaining control of the plant’s operations, the attacker briefly increased the quantity of lye used to treat the water; if they had not been stopped, the hacker’s actions could have poisoned hundreds or thousands of people.
The IC3 received thousands of 2020 complaints reporting financial crime related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) stimulus funds, specifically targeting unemployment insurance, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loans, as well as other fraud associated with COVID-19.
According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) February 2021 report Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2020, text, email, website, apps, social media, online ads, and pop-up message scams reportedly cost consumers at least $919,000,000 in 2020.
In March 2021, multiple software code weaknesses were discovered in a well-known global software company’s computer program which manages many corporate email systems. By exploiting the weaknesses, an attacker could get access to all a company’s registered email accounts, or control the computer running the email software. Because those software flaws became known, there were tens of thousands of cyber attacks targeting organizations around the world with that popular email system.
The FTC Sentinel report also said that of it’s top 10 categories for fraud, “Online Shopping and Negative Reviews” was #2 on the list, and “Internet Services” was ranked #3.
Cybersecurity should be important to everyone, because it affects all of us. Whether at home, school, or work, an ongoing investment in cybersecurity awareness will pay back the time you put into it.
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