You probably remember the headlines from around this time four years ago, when a data breach at Target resulted in the capture of thousands of payment cards and personal data (and in Target paying nearly $70 million to financial institutions to cover their losses and the cost of reissuing all those cards). Or perhaps you more easily remember the recent data breaches at major health insurers that resulted in the compromise of nearly 80 million medical records across the country.
These breaches forced businesses to ask some tough questions about payment card technology, network security and personal privacy; however, there’s another aspect to these breaches that have far more serious implications for you as a private citizen.
With all these breaches, it means that for millions of Americans it’s almost a guarantee that a cyber thief somewhere in the world has your social security number and address information, as well as your medical history, including daily medications.
Up until now, criminal organizations operating online have mostly targeted businesses, as they are provide a more profitable opportunity. One popular method of attack is practice known as “cryptolocking,” where criminals will breach a network and lock (encrypt) the organization’s files. To make money, they will then proceed to blackmail the organization, threatening to delete vital information if the fine is not paid.
Now that so much personal data is in criminal hands thanks to the healthcare breaches, I am left wondering how long it takes before these thieves figure out how to scale their blackmailing techniques to the individual person. It isn’t happening right now because, frankly, it’s pretty time consuming, but the lure of big blackmail dollars means these thieves are motivated to find ways to threaten individuals on a mass scale.
Current security protocols at health care companies aren’t anywhere near what they need to be, because they haven’t been a target up until now. They’re making changes, sure—but this is a classic case of closing the barn door after the data has already gotten out. The good news is that the security market is making rapid advancements, and we at Tempered Networks are working daily to build security and trust into the backbone of global business and communications. We’re taking away the excuses for inadequate security that usually accompany these headlines, with the end goal of making the internet more secure for all of us.