Sam Gendusa July 18, 2019

Newsletter - July 2019

Cyber attacks are expected to cost organizations around the world $6 trillion annually by 2021.

You read that right: $6 trillion. With a T.

Who could forget the 2017 Equifax breach, which cost the credit bureau more than $4 billion and compromised the personal information of 143 million people? Or the 2013 Target data breach, which affected more than 41 million customers and for which the company paid an $18.5 million settlement?

But these costly attacks aren’t limited to global data companies and retailers: Local governments are increasingly being targeted. In fact, they are more vulnerable than corporate entities that have the resources to invest in cybersecurity measures.

In May, city computers in Baltimore, MD were affected by a ransomware attack that is expected to cost the city at least $18.2 million. (Ransomware is a type of malware — or malicious software — that locks the victim’s files and demands money in order to restore access.)

The city’s information technology (IT) office is expecting to spend $10 million recovering from the attack. The other $8.2 million will come from lost or delayed revenue, such as money from property taxes, fines, and real estate fees. (Atlanta suffered a similar event last year, facing an estimated $17 million in costs to repair the damage.)

Following the attack, the city relied on manual workarounds to restore services. For example, residents who had hard copies of their bills could pay what they owed by mail or in person using checks or money orders. What’s more, the event brought Baltimore’s real estate market to a screeching halt, with sellers being asked to sign paperwork promising to pay any outstanding bills once systems came back online.

Smaller communities are particularly susceptible to cyber attacks since most lack robust IT departments. In the last 18 months, local governments in Washington, Ohio, Alaska, North Carolina and Georgia have dealt with ransomware attacks.

"Ransomware gets in however it gets in,” said Johns Hopkins University computer science professor Avi Rubin. “Phishing, drive-by downloads, open ports, buffer overflow vulnerabilities — all are possible ways that attackers can get ransomware onto a system.”

Training employees and improving awareness are the best ways to avoid phishing attacks and other cyber crimes, but it’s important to be prepared. Let Blue Streak Docs manage your document retrieval and property reports to ensure you have all you need to protect your portfolio.

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