Cybersecurity Critical to Future of Business
Opinion — In a recent example of the vulnerabilities of the cyber age, major pharmaceutical manufacturer MERCK among other companies have been struck by a complicated ransomware attack. This "Petya" attack likely originated in the Ukraine and circulated on July 27 around the world in under 48 hours. The attack hit major industries along a wide range of specialties.
Major companies in the United States, Spain, India, and the United Kingdom have all been all seriously impacted. Merck released an update on its Twitter feed following the attack, “We confirm our company's computer network was compromised today as part of global hack other organizations have also been affected. We are investigating the matter and will provide additional information as we learn more."Internal memos instructed employees to disconnect their mobile devices and avoid social media. The attack came directly after stock prices had increased due to the release of news that a new cholesterol drug had passed significant milestones.
The attack was described as the largest in the history of the Ukraine. At the Boryspil International Airport, flight displays and the airport website were both severely impacted. Acting director Pavel Ryabikin posted to facebook that “The official site of the airport and the scoreboard with the schedule of flights aren't working!”
Affected ATM’s were disabled with a message left by the hackers demanding a ransom. This particular ransom demanded around $300 USD to regain entry to the system. It is believed that this was a new version of the WannaCry bug that infected tens of thousands of computers earlier this year. Attacks like this represent the new era of both individual and organized crime. This attack reveals the devastating speed at which cyberwarfare operates. This is a critical moment for business as history has shown even highly “secure” government agencies are not safe. It is imperative that the legislators at every level, as well as private businesses begin to look at smart infrastructure. The Department of Homeland Security released a memo outlining 16 critical sectors. All of them could be very vulnerable to cyber-attacks if serious development is not made. The final result must be informed legislators, and competent government officials working with experienced security firms.
Our ability as an economic and even military superpower depends on a strong cyberinfrastructure. If that becomes consistently compromised, we will suffer in ways we have not even realized possible. As the world turns more and more to cloud-based technologies, smartphones, and other internet dependent technologies, we can not afford anything less than the highest level of security. One of the major threats to both businesses and consumers is the departure from hard currency. Society is consistently turning away from cash. A cashless society cannot function without dependable security. The time to act is now. Any later, and we may be too late.