Cyberattacks Now Target Governments

Once upon a time, criminals had to break into homes and businesses to gain access to valuables. In the outdated, offline world, the concept of “valuables” generally applied to cash, jewelry and other physical goods. Lock the front doors, conventional wisdom said, and you’ll be relatively secure.

Now that the Internet has redefined our lives and businesses, break-ins are virtual and the new currency is information — personally identifying information, to be exact. The rush to an online economy has stood conventional wisdom on its ear, and all the locked front doors on the planet won’t make us any safer.

They won’t protect our governments, either, as Virginia’s administration is now learning. Hackers claim to have broken into a state-run prescription drug database — run by the Prescription Monitoring Program — last month and stolen or deleted 8 million patient records and 35 million prescription records. They demanded a $10 million ransom for the safe return of the compromised data, or threatened to sell it to the highest bidder.

As the debate continues over whether this is the biggest cybercrime attack in history, the reality for regular folks is frightening: There are no safe havens anymore, and not even governments — who we entrust with our most private information — are immune. We can lock our doors at night, but we have no control over the myriad third parties that touch our data after we relinquish control.

To its credit, Virginia refuses to play ball. Much as the U.S. government…


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