When you hear about massive ransomware attacks, do you think that it’s only a problem for large corporations or government agencies? A month ago, my answer to that question would have been yes. I heard about unknown forces hacking into bank databases and unleashing malware on businesses around the globe, but I never thought that I was personally under attack. Even after the WannaCry ransomware attacks in May of 2017, I didn’t know that I had anything of value to attract cyber criminals.
My devastating awakening came on a sunny afternoon as I was working in my home office. I still remember the moment it happened because it involved an intrusion on my home that took me by surprise. I had the window open with a nice breeze blowing through the screen and was doing a bit of research online when my screen suddenly started blinking red and white. There was a message on the screen stating that my computer was under the control of another entity and I needed to call a phone number immediately.
I tried hitting escape. I tried hitting the back button on my internet browser. There was no way to regain control of my computer, and I panicked. This experience that I thought only happened to important people harboring valuable data or national secrets was suddenly happening to my family. It felt as if an intruder had busted through the front door and was holding my life hostage because that computer contained all of my banking information, data pertaining to my work, and a variety of information that could impact my children.
Ransomware Doesn’t Discriminate
Why is cybersecurity important? Whenever I hear this question asked, I think about my own experience with ransomware. Cybersecurity is important because the number of criminal attacks launched over the internet increases every year. This is no longer a problem just for banks and large corporations. It’s a concern for every person with a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Experts are predicting that cyber crimes could cost $2 trillion by 2019. That’s an alarming figure that becomes even more troubling when you realize that many of these crimes are preventable. I learned my lesson after one experience with ransomware, and I now protect myself with the Rubica personal cyber security app. Advanced technology now makes it incredibly easy to safeguard our devices from criminal intrusion, and the number of cyber crimes will only decrease when more people take advantage of the protections available.
Criminals are Getting Smarter
Cybercrimes aren’t just becoming more frequent and commonplace. They’re also hitting a larger number of people and are progressing in severity. As more businesses digitize their data and more people depend on their electronic devices to manage their lives, the more information is available for hackers and other criminals to target. If I was attacked by ransomware while sitting in my home office, then it can happen to anyone connected to the internet today. That includes you, every member of your family, your colleagues and your friends.
President Obama dedicated billions of dollars to cybersecurity. President Trump recently signed an executive order regarding cyber security risk management for the White House. It’s easy to shrug off these threats as if they’re only relevant to the government or large corporations worth billions of dollars, but that’s a misconception that you can no longer afford to embrace.
Criminals are now more sophisticated, and sometimes targeting millions of everyday people for small amounts of money is just as lucrative as going after those big targets. Sometimes collecting data on a smaller scale is easier and faster than hitting a bank or government agency. If a criminal believes that they’re more likely to get away with hitting you, then you will become the next target.