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Cyber Security Horror Stories

It’s October, and that means spooky season! So grab a flashlight, gather round, and I’ll spin you some truly horrifying tales of cyber criminals, their devious deeds, and the alarming aftermath that businesses are left to deal with once they’ve been exposed to a cyber attack or data breach.

Ghost in the Ether

It was 1903 and the “father of the modern radio,” Guglielmo Marconi was on the lecture stage at the Royal Academy of Sciences, preparing to send a communication using the first ever wireless broadcasting technology. As he was readying himself to transmit the message, the device began—seemingly of its own accord—to tap out a message in Morse code: Tap. Tap. Tap.

RATS. RATS. RATS, the message read, and kept repeating, over and over again. Was there a ghost in the ether? Nope! According to OpenMind, it was Marconi’s professional rival, Nevil Maskelyne, participating in what was referred to at the time as “scientific hooliganism,” but we know today to be the first ever case of hacking.

Hospital Horror Story

In 2016, a hospital in California was the victim of a ransomware attack. Hackers shut down the internal computer system at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center for over a week, encrypting protected patient files, emails, billing, and other sensitive data.

The hackers were demanding $3.7 million in ransom before they would relinquish control of the information obtained from the hospital’s server. Tim Erlin, a spokesperson from the hospital, said that the attack “seriously degraded their ability to deliver care.”

Related Reading: How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware

Office Nightmare

Just imagine—it’s a routine Tuesday morning at the office. You’ve just had your first cup of coffee and, as the VP of supplier relations, you’re getting ready to place that big order with your vendor. You’re considering whether a second cup of coffee will make you jittery, when you get an email from another vendor. It’s a company you’ve worked with before, but maybe they’ve changed their point of contact? The email is detailing a paperwork error—they’ve received payment of $20,000 from your company, but need to confirm what was ordered. They need your account information to sort it all out.

How on earth did you miss these details?! If you don’t fix it now, you’ll be in big trouble. So, you respond with your company’s account information so they can get you back on track. They respond saying it’s been taken care of. You breathe a sigh of relief and decide that you will have that second cup of coffee, after all.

A couple of weeks later, you get a weird call from one of your clients, claiming that their vendor’s order never arrived. That’s odd—you thought you’d taken care of the order a couple of weeks ago. You dig back through your email to confirm and tell your client that there must have been a mistake.

That’s when you realize that there has been a mistake—the email you responded to wasn’t from your vendor at all! You notice that the company email address that your vendor used is spelled slightly differently and that you have no previous record of having worked with anyone with that email address. It’s your worst nightmare—you’ve just handed $20,000 of your company’s money over to a cyber criminal, and exposed the organization’s entire network to cyber vulnerabilities.

Related Reading: Can Cyber Liability Insurance Be a Life Saver for Your Business?

Chilling Cyber Crime Statistics

Cyber attacks and data breaches have become an increasingly common trend in today’s society, and the most valuable currency is customer data. In the business world of sensitive customer records and data, virtually all consumer and company data is prized by hackers and worth protecting for your business. Here are some chilling cyber crime statistics from HostingTribunal, BlueVoyant, and Crowdstrike that pose a dire warning for businesses wanting to keep their data safe from attack:

  • There is a cyber attack every 39 seconds.

  • Hackers create 300,000 new pieces of malware daily.

  • Russian hackers can infiltrate a computer network in 18 minutes.

  • The cost of data breaches for U.S. companies is expected to increase to $150 million in 2020.

  • A whopping 66% of businesses attacked by hackers weren’t confident they could recover.

  • 80% of organizations surveyed have experienced a breach caused by a third party vendor in the last year.

  • The level of cyber threat activity observed in the first half of 2020 surpassed all of the activity recorded in 2019.

As breaches become more common and destructive, many organizations are still perplexed about coverage and, ultimately, uncertain about cyber insurance being a necessity. In this era of increasing regulation and public awareness of data security risks, you don’t want to risk critical information falling into the wrong hands. Every business should consider their exposure level in the event that sensitive data is compromised, and cybersecurity needs to be a top priority.

Watch the webinar to learn how to protect your company from a cyberattack

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Fraud & Cyber Security Technology

Brett Morgan

Brett Morgan specializes in alternative risk transfer programs, professional liability, Directors & Officers liability, and employment issues centered on protecting clients’ assets. He has an extensive background in understanding property exposures and a customer’s business processes. Brett has taught various seminars on business interruption, protecting your company while conducting business in foreign countries, and protecting your client’s internal controls from theft.

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