Just a couple of months ago, the Cartersville, Georgia school district experienced a data security breach when the “Robbinhood” ransomware infected their system. The malware left the personal information about the students open to hackers. And if this wasn’t enough of a wake-up call, just last month another attack came too close to home in Henry, Georgia. The malware attack impacted several departments within the county including the tax assessor’s office, the state court, and the board of commissioners… and all of the citizens that rely on those departments. And it caused the entire system to be out of commission for five full days. Since the government isn’t, do you know how to protect your personal information?

The entire georgiacourts.gov website remained inaccessible for an entire week, as IT professionals struggled to get things back online. Although the agency insists that no personal information was compromised during the attack, the fact that the system was so vulnerable, signals a problem in one more of Georgia’s public information systems. The only reason that personal data was not privy the attacks was that the database did not contain private information. 

Why Target the System?

The reality is that no one is sure what the hackers were looking for. Analysts believe that it was probably a test to find out how vulnerable the system is. Hackers often test vulnerabilities within one system to find out how to make their way into similar ones. And to identify the backroads to do so. But one thing is for sure; the hackers were able to find their way in. And that our information is not safe as long as public systems remain outdated and under-served. The City of Atlanta and the Georgia Department of Agriculture have, likewise, been subject to cyber attacks over recent months. Which begs the question, “Is any of your private information safe?”.

Who is Hacking? Where are the Cyber Attacks Coming From?

Although most of us think that hacking is just one guy, sitting in his basement, that is not the reality. When public systems are hacked, the most likely attackers are foreign governments. They do so to try to find the best route to cripple American businesses and harm our citizens. And to make us all vulnerable to some future attack. Unfortunately, governments all around the world are engaging in cybersecurity attacks.

And many of the methods used aren’t being developed overseas, but originate here, only to come back to bite us. The Cyberattack on the City of Atlanta’s systems last year, which rendered it completely useless by Atlanta officials and citizens for days, was perpetrated by two Iranian natives. Once they compromised the systems and deployed ransomware, they demanded $6800 per endpoint to remove it. They City didn’t pay the ransom, but their damages, due to the incident, is estimated to cost more than $17 million. 

So how can you Protect Your Personal Information?

 If you feel threatened by this, you should. The government has the right to collect personal data about you, and when it falls into the wrong hands, it can cause financial and personal damage to you. But after they collect your personal data, which is technically your property, they may not guard it as well as you, or as well as they should. The good news is that you can demand that government systems holding your private information be updated and secured. But you also must know the right questions. The only way to create change in public computer systems is to demand it by ensuring that administrators are following certain procedures. If a public system is holding the key to your financial and personal information, insist that they have cyber security monitoring in place today!

Are You Safeguarding Client Data?

For more information about how to keep your clients’ information secure, contact us today for a cyber security assessment!  Cross Link will identify the vulnerabilities and provide remediation steps in as little as 24-hours.