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Wherever you turn for news coverage online, Coronavirus alarm bells are ringing louder.
But users should not trust all of those bells, as fake news, phishing scams and even malicious malware is actively being distributed under the Coronavirus umbrella.
Sadly, a perfect storm may be brewing. As government officials and health experts appeal louder for calm, the public is actually getting more worried and searching the Internet for answers. For example:
On Friday, January 31, fears slammed the U.S. stock market, according to Axios. “Stocks saw the worst sell-off in months on Friday: the Dow Jones Industrials Average dropped 603 points (2.1%), while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq declined 1.7% and 1.5%, respectively. …”
Meanwhile, the BBC reported that the U.S. and Australia have joined Russia, Japan, Pakistan and Italy in closing their borders to all foreign nationals arriving from China. These actions were taken despite conflicting advice from global health officials. “Travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies,” the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
At the same time, Bloomberg news reported that China Virus Cases May Be Undercounted Even With 3,000% Surge. “The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in China has skyrocketed to more than 9,000, surpassing the official count during the SARS epidemic. …”
Coronavirus is a Bonanza for Online Scams and Fake News
As expected, the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, along with the expanded media coverage of surrounding events related to this global health emergency, has led to hoaxes and the spread of panic. According to CNN, “In Los Angeles County, public health officials warned residents Thursday that a letter claiming a potential coronavirus outbreak in Carson City is (Read more…)
Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans While the issue of cyber threats is consistently on the rise, there is a general perception that only metro cities may be prone to cyber-attacks. But in fact, research has found time and again that it is the other way around. Multiple cities in India and […]
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Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans The new home healthcare Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) released by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) goes into effect after January 1, 2020. With it, payment periods will be cut in half and therapy volume will no longer be considered when determining home health […]
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be made on April 1, 2020. For the first time, the United States Census will
offer a full internet response option, in addition to traditional paper
responses. The digitization of the census is meant to address the challenges of
counting an increasingly large and diverse population, while also complying
with strict cost constraints imposed by Congress. But as with most
technological breakthroughs, there are plenty of risky implications.
first for the U.S., other countries have hosted censuses online before. Most
notably, the 2016 census in Australia involved the country being hit with a DDoS
attack that brought down the system for 40 hours and caused a plethora of
data was compromised, but as the U.S. gears up for its inaugural online census,
there is pressure to get it right. Security experts and citizens alike find
themselves asking the tough questions: Do we truly understand the risks
involved in an online census? How can we prepare to face potential security
concerns, and what happens if we fail to do so?
critical that both citizens and government agencies are aware of the potential
cybersecurity threats that exist with this transition. From compromised
respondent devices to disrupted network access and data breaches, there’s
plenty of room for error.
operation that is nation-wide, has a strict deadline and involves sensitive
data faces some major technical challenges and malicious cyber threats. Given
the important implications of the census for the U.S. government and its
population, the most immediately concerning are attacks and vulnerabilities that
impact the quality or security of the data in inconspicuous ways:
Spoofing the census website in a handful of regions by attacking the caching name servers
and altering some of the responses could pose a significant threat. It is hard
enough to spot spoofing of known websites, let alone those we are not used to
Compromised network access is a less malicious but still damaging possibility, should
the U.S. Census Bureau’s IT infrastructure be lacking. If the infrastructure is
not equipped to be secure and reliable, the results of the census could be skewed.
Data theft isanother threat that would not impede or alter the results of the census,
but instead put U.S. citizens at risk. Such a concentrated amount of
information on U.S. residents would be valuable to many actors. A breach of
this database and theft of data may be timed after the census has concluded because
IT personnel may be more likely to let their guards down after a tense period
There are certainly
plenty of risks, but there are also steps and precautions that we can take now
to keep anticipated threats at bay and ensure an accurate, secure census in
the Best, Prepare for the Worst
that the U.S. Census Bureau has had a decade to prepare, but in today’s cyber
landscape, new threats and attack vectors are being developed that can’t always
be foreseen. With so much at stake, professionals are working around the clock
to identify potential mishaps and develop security strategies and mitigation
In terms of
precautions, there are several critical actions that can be taken to protect
our data and prepare for a successful and reliable census. First and foremost,
we must ensure that our internet service providers are not vulnerable to DNS
hijacking attacks and that all collected data is encrypted, both at rest and in
transit, in ways that are very difficult to decrypt.
making sure the internal and external networks have next generation firewalls
and advanced threat protection capabilities will mitigate the risks of
compromised network access, impersonation of U.S. Census Bureau websites and
to the precautions government entities must take, there is one important thing
the average citizen can do to protect their data – be aware of the timelines
of the census and suspicious of any phishing emails you receive prior to April
1 or afterwards, asking for similar information as the census. Any email
purporting to be from the Census Bureau requesting financial information,
social security numbers or specific birth dates, for example, should be
reported to the FBI’s internet crime center.
happens if we fail to adhere to these precautions? What is the potential
the “What ifs”
census holds extreme importance, in that it helps ensure citizens’ voices are
heard and everyone is represented. It has major implications for public decision-making
processes, including divvying up seats in Congress, dispersing public funding
and planning for Social Security.
properly prepared, we risk inaccurate, unclear or untrusted census results. In
this scenario, the faulty data would still be used to make decisions on
redistricting maps and funding allocations for community services and other
crucial programs that citizens need to thrive and prosper.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued seven recommendations for managing the risk associated
with conducting an online census, all of which are key to the program’s success
and integrity. However, with just half a year to go until Census Day, it’s time
to move beyond recommendations for planning and into action.
By placing a
renewed focus on the technology vendors and supply chains being used by government
agencies, and educating and preparing citizens across the country, we’ll be well
on our way to a successful 24th U.S. Census.
A city government on the verge of shutdown, with multiple city departments not able to function because of a massive technology breakdown. A crippled municipal court system that has stopped working. Millions in lost revenue because residents can’t paying water bills, and vital communications like sewer and infrastructure repair requests can’t be processed. Finally, all electronic communication systems for first responders is rendered inoperable for several days. The cause is a powerful computer virus released into a city system by hackers demanding payment.
If this sounds like the newest plot from a Hollywood disaster movie, think again. It’s the reality of a cyber attack that recently hit the city of Atlanta, and is likely the first of many more that American cities, counties and states are likely to face.
Just two weeks ago, Atlanta was hit by a “ransomware” attack known as SamSam, nearly bringing down all city operations. The city continues to be hobbled by the attack, with many of its systems still not fully functional. Atlanta like most major cities was caught flat-footed and unprepared. Attempted ransomware attacks against local governments in the United States have become all too common. A 2016 survey of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for jurisdictions across the country found that one-quarter of local governments reported that they were experiencing attacks of one kind or another.
With such an ongoing threat, you would imagine that cyber-security would be a major priority for municipal government. Shockingly, less than half the local governments surveyed said they had a formal cybersecurity policy, and only 34 percent said they had a written strategy to recover from breaches.
Simply put, American cities are unprepared to deal with the reality of cyber-attacks.
Atlanta is certainly not alone with its cyber preparedness issues. Municipalities often have very limited technology budgets, with investments funneled to meet immediate tech needs rather than focusing on cyber defense. With limited money and expertise, implementing the most basic security practices can be challenging, let alone cutting edge defenses in this fast changing and evolving threat. Compounding the problem is that hackers aren’t necessarily attacking cities specifically, but they are simply looking at vulnerable sites with poorly protected governments an easy target.
Houston may be particularly vulnerable for an Atlanta-style attack.
Webroot, an internet security firm, analyzed the malware infection rates for 2016, to evaluate which communities were most vulnerable to cyber attacks. Houston was the No. 1 ranked city with more than 60,000 infected devices, making it potentially the municipality most likely subject to attack in the country.
Against this backdrop, what if anything can be done to keep Houston safe?
Houston has in many ways led on the issue of cyber-security and protection. One of the earliest cities in the country to have a chief information/technology officer, it has since 2013 also had a chief technology Security officer who is tasked with maintaining a consistent and uniform security plan for the city’s technical infrastructure. Houston, unlike many other cities, does maintain a formal cybersecurity policy that is updated on a real time basis.
What’s missing however, is the budgetary flexibility to quickly update systems and software. In today’s world cyber-security is critically important to our daily lives. We need to prioritize software and critical infrastructure updates in the same way we prioritize first responders with the resources to protect us.
The city continues to operate on outdated systems that are vulnerable to cyber-attack. If we don’t update our systems, we could find ourselves in the exact same position as Atlanta.
In the modern era, maintaining a strong cyber security system is as important as making sure we have adequate police and fire protection.
As the convergence of physical and cyber threats continues to grow, companies in the energy sector need to work together to strengthen resilience and bolster response for the next generation smart grid.
Cyber attacks have dominated the headlines and devastated a slew of companies over the past few years – from Equifax to Yahoo, Deloitte to Merck – compromising millions of people’s information and costing billions of dollars in losses to those businesses.
But, of particular concern is the risk of attack on the electric grid, with one report showing that the US grid was being attacked as much as every four days by a cyber or physical attack – that’s nearly 100 times a year. What’s more, every year, the energy sector is among the top three most attacked critical infrastructure sectors in the US.
These repeated security breaches have raised concerns in the industry around the impact of a broader outage. Imagine how onewidespread outage lasting even just a few days could disable everything in our increasingly connected, digital landscape – from traffic lights to cellphones. It could even threaten lives, for example, of patients in hospitals or other healthcare facilities that may have exhausted their backup power supply.
Industry experts are warning the South Korean arms industry to ramp up security in preparation for growing cyberattacks in the coming years, while a number of industry sources say some of the previous attacks could have been state-sponsored. Similarities found between previous cyberattacks against the South Korean arms industry over…
The word “disaster” usually conjures up images of physical destruction: trees knocked over by gale-force winds, homes submerged in flood waters, bullet holes through a door. But last month’s WannaCry virus attack that infected over 230,000 computers in 150 countries was a reminder that the threat of disaster is sitting…
AS A VICIOUS new strain of ransomware swept the UK’s National Health Service yesterday, shutting off services at hospitals and clinics throughout the region, experts cautioned that the best protection was to download a patch Microsoft had issued in March. The only problem? A reported 90 percent of NHS trusts run at least one Windows XP device, an operating system …