The expanding loopholes in cyber defenses put sensitive data at risk, exhilarating the degree of damage due to malicious cyberattacks. A recent study states that almost 230,000 malware samples are produced by hackers every day; this number will continue to rise in the upcoming years, and the costs associated with damage caused by IT breaches may touch $5 trillion, by the year 2020.
Yes, the horrifying facts about these crooked attacks are indeed real! But, what if a cyberattack took over the IT network of a Government, taking an entire nation to its feet?
Does this seem like a hypothetical scenario?
From April 2018 when the Caribbean nation faced a total public shut down for an entire day, to a few months before when the state of Atlanta was crippled by a ransomware attack – Government agencies have always been hit with massive information security attacks.
…And now, Queensland government entities are also found to be vulnerable to cyber-attacks!
Qld Govt Cyber Defences Fail Moral Hack
The Queensland Audit Office conducts regular reviews on cybersecurity. In its most recent one, it found the three unidentified entities with different levels of security, are unsafe and are vulnerable to hackers.
The entities were left anonymous for their security; however, as defined by the report, these include state government departments, local councils, and statutory bodies. Besides these, four main groups are identified to pose a direct threat of breaching cybersecurity standards:
- Criminals – The group of individuals who robs personal data and use victims for financial gain.
- Hacktivists – They target computer networks to promote their political or social grounds.
- Insiders – These people steal info of their own organization for personal, or financial goals.
- Nation-states – These steal sensitive secrets for economic and political benefits.
As cyberattacks are becoming a hurdle, the Queensland government has allocated over $85 million in its 2019-20 budget to enhance digital services and safeguard government operations for the subsequent four years.
Government Agencies – Always a Prime Target?
When it comes to securing the valuable personal information of people, most governments are giant piñatas, because they are under constant, unrelenting attacks! Of these, let us take a glimpse at a few of the important cybersecurity incidents that happened since 2011:
- In 2011, a PDF infected with malware was attached to an email and sent around the French Ministry of Finance. The virus affected about 150 computers with access to the confidential data of the Paris G20 summit.
- Two attacks were launched separately between the years 2012 and 2015, on the US Office of Personnel Management. The hackers were able to steal approximately 22 million records, including addresses, social security numbers, and fingerprint data.
- In 2014, personal details of over 1 billion Indian citizens, including the email addresses, phone numbers, thumbprints, and retina scans, were stolen from the Aadhaar database and were reported to have sold online.
- Offices of 16 German parliamentarians were compromised, with internal data uncovered and mailboxes copied, in the year 2015.
- With the compromise of the personal email account of John Podesta – the chairman of Hilary Clinton’s US presidential campaign, more than 20,000 emails were leaked, in 2016, possibly derailing the campaign. In the same year, the Democratic National Committee was targeted, with round 20,000 emails with confidential party secrets leaked from the key staff.
- In 2017, hackers planted malware on a popular Ukrainian tax update site, which then spread over to finance and services sites in the US, UK, Germany, France and many other countries. The virus dubbed ‘NotPetya’ infected computers.
- A brute force attack hit the Northern Irish parliament, giving hackers access to the mailboxes of members, in 2018.
- And in 2019, a cyber incident frightened everyone at the worst! Hackers were able to infect 23 organizations connected to local government in the US state of Texas with ransomware.
The above events show nothing but the fact that “Government data is worth so much to hackers”, and this clearly indicates that all government agencies are frequently vulnerable to cyber-attacks. There are a lot of precautions you may take to hedge against this. Talk to experts at Cybernetic Global Intelligence (CGI) – the best cybersecurity company in Australia, for ideas on how to protect your private data against online threats.